There is lots of evidence out there that infertility groups can help relieve some of the stress associated with dealing with infertility, which, in turn, can help couples restore their fertility. If you are interested in being part of a group like this but can’t find one in your area, it’s time to take the initiative and start your own. This is not as intimidating as it sounds, and with a few simple steps, you will find yourself giving and receiving support in a group of like-minded individuals and couples.
Get the word out
You may already have some idea of what type of support group you would like to form, but keep your mind open. There are many different ways the group can be structured. Some infertility support groups focus mainly on conversation and expressing emotions. Other groups may include activities as part of their format such as the practice of stress-relief techniques like yoga and meditation in a comfortable setting. One group created by two Vanderbilt Medical Center nurses combines all of these options into one twelve-week group. Their support groups practice yoga, learn relaxation and visualization techniques, and support members through conversation and lectures.
If you have a strong preference and a person who will be leading the group, you may wish to set up the group with the intention of having a specific structure. Or, if you want to allow the group to form more organically, you can first get the group together and then allow the group members to collaborate on a format that would best meet the needs of most of the participants.
To start having people contact you about the group, put together an advertisement. This can be as simple as a poster that you put up in local grocery stores, an announcement on social networking sites, or an advertisement in the newspaper. You will get the most coverage if you use a combination of these techniques. This advertisement doesn’t need to include days, times, and exact purposes, but it should let people know that you are interested in creating a support group for individuals and couples struggling with infertility, and it should include several ways to contact you.
As people begin to contact you about the group, start writing down information. You’ll need their basic contact details, but you may also want to dig a little deeper. Ask why they are interested in the group, and find out what days and times work best for them. As more people contact you – which they certainly will if you get the word out – you’ll be able to form a picture of what the group might look like and when it might meet.
Set a date and some goals
Realize that you probably won’t be able to find the time and date on which everyone who called you can meet, but try to schedule something that will work for most people. Be sure to contact everyone who called a week or so before that date so that they can get it onto their calendars. It is up to you to decide if you would rather have the meetings in someone’s home or choose a neutral location like a library, a church meeting room or a coffee shop.
Keep it going
One of the toughest parts of forming an infertility support group is keeping it rolling. Ask that if the members of the group decide to join that they make a complete commitment. People who are constantly popping in and out of meetings might cause a disruption to relationships forming as well as they otherwise might. In order to successfully keep your support group going, stick with the same day and time as much as possible, and keep encouraging people to bring new ideas to the table that all the members can try together.
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