Inspirational Woman: Sarah Banks | Personal Development Coach & Author, The IVF Positivity Planner

Sarah BanksAfter completing my Marketing and Retailing degree, I was working in my dream job as a Senior Buyer within the retail sector. I was very ambitious, but privately I wanted to fulfil my ultimate dream of becoming a mum. 

I met my hubby when we were both aged 18, and after we got married seven years later, we soon decided to start a family. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen as planned, and it took us a heart-breaking 6 years and 2 cycles of IVF to get our longed-for baby.

During this time, I became very disillusioned with my job, which was accelerated by a change of management, and my inability to get pregnant meant I was unhappy on a daily basis. The experience was so overwhelming.

When I finally got pregnant through IVF, I knew it was my opportunity to make a change. After having my son, I retrained as a personal development life awareness coach so I could help those who were still struggling with infertility.

I set up support groups and now work with clinics and fertility professionals to help them understand the deep emotional impact of infertility and how they can further support their patients.

More recently, I wrote and published the IVF Positivity Planner, a unique coaching journal that helps people feel happier and stronger whilst going through IVF. It’s now an international best seller.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

Following my own personal experiences, I would never have imagined I would be supporting other people through infertility, have written a bestselling book and be talking at national events.

I had the idea to create the planner a few years before I eventually did it – I knew I wanted to produce a support resource, and was really passionate about my goals, but was scared to take the plunge. But since making the decision, I’ve never looked back.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Starting a business in a very niche market has been difficult – there’s still limited understanding of the benefits of coaching, and even less understanding about coaching within the fertility sector.

It’s a very medically led sector, so it’s been a challenge to raise awareness of the importance of emotional support – also to become recognised, respected and trusted within the sector.

I’ve spent a lot of time establishing key relationships, supporting patients and staff and building trust in both myself and my expertise.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Professionally, it would have to be creating and publishing my planner, and growing the sales to be an international best seller and achieving 5-star reviews.

I wanted to follow this path for so long and knew the journal could make a real difference to people’s lives. I put so much into it and sold my first copy within 5 minutes of going live. But my first thought was whether people would like it!

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

My personal experience means that I’m trusted and listened to. People know that I’m talking from the heart and from a position of personal understanding, so they’re reassured that they won’t be judged. This sets me apart from some of the fertility professionals who are treating them.

The planner has been designed to help people in a way I understand and acknowledge, which I believe is why it has been so successful.

What advice would you give to someone just starting the IVF process?

Ask for support – this is so important. You don’t need to struggle alone and there are options to suit everyone, from counsellors and support groups to Instagram accounts and blogs. Getting help validates your emotions, gives you an outlet to talk through how you’re feeling and in return you’ll receive honest, non-judgemental support.

And take control of what you can – your lifestyle (eat well, get enough rest, cut out/down caffeine and alcohol), your mindset (coping strategies, managing negative thoughts, focus on self-care) and practical (researching treatment, planning for treatment).

What can companies do to support women during their fertility process?

A common worry of those going through fertility treatment is the impact on work. Fertility treatment is a very intensive process, with a requirement to attend lots appointments. Many people worry about needing time off, having to tell their employer and also how it will impact their career.

Organisations need to be understanding of the emotional and physical impact that infertility and IVF can cause – research what it is like, talk to people about their experiences and offer genuine support. This could be:

  • Providing a safe and confidential space for employees to confide about what they are going through, so they can talk through their options and get workplace support
  • Training managers on how to support their employees
  • Offer resources to help employees cope – support groups, blogs, webinars
  • Allow flexibility around treatment as much as possible, whilst helping them focus on work at the same time.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Personally, struggling with infertility I would tell myself that what I was feeling was normal and very real. To be kinder to myself so that I could get support, feel happier and take back control of my life. This would have made my younger years a happier time.

Professionally, I would remind myself that I’m capable of doing whatever I set my mind to. To believe in myself and to create a plan. It may feel scary at times, I will doubt myself lots of times, but I can work through it and succeed because it’s something so important to me.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future? 

I want the book to be a support resource to as many people as possible, so that everyone can feel happier, stronger and more in control whilst going through IVF.

I would love for fertility clinics – in the UK and internationally – to provide the planner to patients as part of their IVF package, so they get 24-hour emotional support through treatment.

And lastly, to continue to raise awareness and support to those struggling with infertility.


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