When you meet Naava, the founder of The Fertility Support Company, the first thing you notice is her contagious energy. The second, her extraordinary knowledge of fertility and her passion for supporting men and women on their journey to becoming parents.
Naava has an amazing track record that keeps filling her webpage with the cutest baby pictures and grateful parents’ testimonials. There are many aspects to her success including her experience as an acupuncturist and Chinese herbal medicine practitioner and her insatiable appetite for learning. But to me, the key to her success is that she really does care for her clients’ wellbeing, to the point that she has created a network of like-minded practitioners in the fertility field including highly qualified and experienced doctors and therapists to further support her clients.
Naava is one of those rare health practitioners that has a deep understanding of Western medicine and uses it as a diagnostic tool while she treats with traditional Chinese medicine and supports with alternative therapies like nutrition. And she loves to spread the knowledge and that’s why she lectures in the UK and abroad – and gets booked up to talk at conferences years in advance!
One important lesson I’ve learnt from Naava is to never forget to take a step back and look at your life’s balance, ensure that you make time for the important things in life like family, friends and, of course, you!
I love catching up with Naava and hearing about her life as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and an amazing mum. And then I thought: Why not share a little bit about her life as an acupuncturist in North London, her approach to supporting fertility and how she manages to beautifully balance it all? So, please meet Naava!
I had a bout of sickness in my late teens which involved crushing migraines and joint aches which nothing touched – except a needle in the top of my head. Now I know that the person who did the acupuncture for me was woefully underqualified and undertrained, and had they been competent I may well have recovered much sooner than I did. That is why I chose to become a member of the British Acupuncture Council (www.acupuncture.org) as this is the only way to ensure that the standard of training and practice is of a safe standard. I went on to train as a herbalist and joined the Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine (www.rchm.co.uk) for the same reason. It was a bit of a deviation from Plan A – at the time I started studying acupuncture I was also at University doing a BA in History of Art and planning to do a law conversion course after that. I finished both degrees, and I’ve never regretted changing career plans; now I can help people and I’m never at a loss for good dinner table chit chat!
I didn’t set out to specialise; I feel that this specialism found me. I had a lady in the very early days come and see me having been told she wasn’t going to be able to conceive. Without going into the very personal details, she and I worked together for 3 cycles (during which she bought the drugs in preparation for beginning her IVF cycle) and at the end of the third cycle, to both our surprise, she fell pregnant naturally! After that experience, I knew what I was meant to do. I then, at the request of a client at the time, went on to train as a Doula so I could have the unique honour of being present at the birth of babies whose parents I had supported.
I would describe this approach as root and branch. The herbs work every day, guiding the client’s qi, keeping them on track, dealing with the underlying issue, while the weekly acupuncture is like a fulcrum. By this, I mean that I can respond at the time to how they are feeling, and also intervene at particular times in particular ways and turn the tide hormonally or metabolically if needed. For example, if I am trying to bring ovulation forward or push it back, then the herbs will support this process but the acupuncture will allow me to guide the body’s Qi to respond quickly.
I think medicine is a spectrum, from which we choose the tools which work best. Why restrict myself to just Traditional Chinese Medicine, if an understanding of western medicine can help? So, if I use and understand Western medicine as a diagnostic tool, and Traditional Chinese Medicine as a treatment tool, then that is a potent and effective combination. For example: from a western medical point of view, it takes three cycles for an egg to be recruited, grown in the body, and ovulated. So, it makes sense to me that I have to work for at least three cycles with a woman to change the internal conditions so the egg itself can be matured from then on in a different, improved, environment. Too, I’m interested in measureable change; if I test a woman’s progesterone levels and find them lacking, then I need to be able to treat her, retest, and see a concrete improvement. If I’m doing it right, and in partnership with my clients, then I know that the difference won’t be ephemeral, but very concrete and easily measured, from an absence of PMS, to an increased hormone level or improved response to an IVF cycle.
Yes; I will very often work with a nutritionist such as yourself or a counsellor of one kind or another for example, as you cannot pull the hormonal, metabolic and emotional away from each other without disadvantaging the client and the results you are trying to achieve.
I am super-organised, and welded to my diary! I have also recently acquired the habit of a bullet journal, which I’ve found very helpful in tracking my day to day plans, whilst not forgetting about monthly teaching or writing obligations or my year-goals. At the beginning of each year, I take the time to review what I want to achieve, and put plans in place to try and achieve this; I think that this practice helps to keep my work fresh, and my focus on customer service alive and responsive. I believe in practicing what I preach, so I make sure I have a regular treatment of some kind or another, and attend a regular clinical supervision session. My motto is: never ask a client to do something I wouldn’t or don’t do myself! Finally, I couldn’t do what I do without an excellent support system. I have a brilliant husband and family, and am really strict with myself so that when I am with my little one I am fully present as his mum, and when I am with my clients I am fully there with them.
Most of my clients are aged between 38-45 years old, and most of them are what I would describe as ‘Type A’ women (being one myself I recognise it in others very well!). This means they are driven, goal-oriented, bright and used to being in control. Often therefore, fertility issues come as a great shock, and after embarking on multiple unsuccessful IVF cycles which they have been told are the way to solve the problem, they come away at a loss to know what to do next. My preference is always to try and help create an environment in which a natural conception can occur, and I’m lucky enough to say that most of the time this does happen, and in the very tiny minority in which it does not the ART (artificial reproductive technique) on which they embark is usually successful first time due to the preparatory work we’ve done. In those women where natural conception is not possible, or simply has not yet happened, then Traditional Chinese Medicine holds a special world of possibilities. We can make real change, measurable change, and when the variables change so does the outcome. In 18 years of doing this work, I have seen miracles occur on a weekly basis and can safely say that this job never gets boring!
Naava’s clinic is in North London and she can be contacted via email or telephone, her details can be found on her website. I’d encourage you to take a few minutes and have a look, it is an inspirational website just like her Facebook page and Instagram feed.