HELPING WOMEN ON THEIR FERTILITY JOURNEY: INTERVIEW WITH SARAH HEYWOOD
It was former banker, Sarah Heywood’s journey into motherhood that gave her the impetus to launch a science and evidence fertility and early years parenting website called The Journey. Here she talks to ParentFolk about discovering her company.
‘It wasn’t until I started my own fertility journey that I realised just how misinformed I had been on what it meant to be ‘healthy’. I had always been fit and healthy but when I got into my mid 30s I discovered I had an undetected and increasingly common hormonal imbalance: PCOS which could impact my chanced of having a baby. Delving further I realised many of the ‘healthy’ things she had been doing were inadvertently off balance.’
‘This initial realisation was the very start of ‘The Journey’’, she says. ‘I quickly realised how misinformed we as a modern society are on how our modern lifestyle choices and environment can impact our hormones, our fertility, pregnancy and the development of kids. We are a resource constrained world, we are having kids much later, plus our environment, food and lifestyles are vastly different to those even 50 years ago. All of this can (and is) impacting our bodies and ability to have healthy kids. Yet, the advice we are given simply hasn’t evolved.’
So, can you explain The Journey? ‘The Journey is all about updating the way we approach every stage from fertility through to the early years. The most crucial part is that everything we do is based on the latest published medical and evidence-based research, plus a comprehensive advisory board full of experts for both the mind and body. We want everything to be practical and positive. We also believe the mind and body matter equally and are fundamentally interconnected’.
We have a quest to find compelling, credible science, evidence and experts to help unpick some of the contributing factors behind all of this. We don’t want people to have to spend hundreds of hours wading through medical texts or network to meet all sorts of medical professionals to get this information. The Journey is an amalgamation of everything we have learnt. Hopefully all in an easy to digest practical and positive way!’
What have been your highlights so far: ‘By far and away the highlights have been meeting some incredible minds in the world of health. People like Professor Gideon Lack who is a pioneer in allergy research in children and Dr Natasha Campbell McBride who is a former neurosurgeon turned microbiome specialist. Plus, the wonderful people who support The Journey day to day that sit on the advisory board.
We have also had inspiring people share their own brave stories around things that many of us now experience miscarriage for example. The actress Claire Holt has bravely shared her story in a bid to make sure women who experience it do not feel so alone. The reality is everyone has their own set of unique challenges.
The challenge frankly is probably the same that most new businesses face. So much to do, not very much money to do it with. I’ll be honest that I have good days and I have really crushing days. It can be relentless, particularly when you have a family to juggle. That being said, I am so passionate about it all seems worth it in the end…I hope! ‘
And your challenges? ‘I’ll be honest. I don’t think I manage it that well! I really struggle some days. I struggle with the weight and challenges of a start-up against trying to be the best mum, partner and friend I can be. I am also really fortunate to have a great support network and frankly I’d be lost without it. My son Matteo is at an amazing Nursery five mornings a week which he loves. I have a lovely nanny to help me too plus the most understanding and helpful network of friends and family who are supportive in every way. Without all of this I’d be a bit lost.
What are your plans for the future? ‘I want to empower the next generation of women and parents-to-be with information they can trust. Information that can empower them to get to know their bodies better. To be their own advocates for their health. With awareness that helps aid healthy, proactive decisions and reduces the stress, cost and anxiety that can come with this process. To me accurate knowledge is always power!’