Q&A Series: Meet the Hosts of Fertility Forward
Rena Gower and Dara Godfrey are the hosts of Fertility Forward, RMA of New York’s recently launched podcast. With careers in the fertility space, and former infertility patients themselves, both Rena and Dara saw an opening to share their knowledge of and experience with reproductive health in an accessible way. Their podcast consults clinical experts, wellness gurus, health advocates, and even former patients with the intention of providing a 30-minute, digestible, and informative discussion. In today’s blog, Rena and Dara explain their reasons for getting into the podcasting space, the things they have learned from this experience, and their dream guests.
1. In the second episode of Fertility Forward, you both discuss how your personal experiences with infertility influenced your desire to start a podcast. Can you elaborate on that and other reasons that led you to create Fertility Forward?
Rena: I saw a trend with my patients turning to “Dr Google” or crowdsourcing in online groups or social media to find answers from people that didn’t necessarily have the appropriate background to provide the information they were looking for. There are a lot of wonderful podcasts already out there with patient stories and I thought there was a need for a fertility-focused podcast where we could provide accurate information from reliable sources. I hope we are filling that gap!
Dara: When struggling with my own fertility, I noticed there was a lack of credible information out there and wished there had been a ‘one- stop-shop’ on quality information. Starting a podcast was a natural progression when Rena and I both realized that we had the community and the resources at our fertility clinic to create something for others that could be educational, meaningful, and comforting to those on their own fertility journey.
2. What were your initial goals for the podcast?
Rena: I hope that we can provide a reliable and informative avenue for patients and others curious about infertility and the umbrella that encompasses.
Dara: To find and disseminate exciting and relevant information in the fertility realm and help try to answer people’s burning questions.
3. How does Fertility Forward fill a void in the female health podcast-sphere? What is unique about your podcast?
Rena: I think we do a nice job of providing listeners with a wide range of topics from both eastern and western medical perspectives, fitness, wellness, mindfulness, and patient stories. I also think we get pretty real with our guests about how difficult this process can be.
Dara: We are so fortunate to have such a varied group of people on our show – from doctors and patients to advocacy groups, therapists, and people in the wellness space. This diverse group of people makes our platform extra special.
4. How do you prepare for a podcast? Do you research the individual you’re interviewing? How is the process different if the guest is a friend versus someone you’ve never met before?
Rena: We always come to the podcast with an outline and notes of things we might want to discuss, but we try to stay away from micromanaging or scripting the session. We approach each interview with the perspective of trying to ask questions we think someone with zero knowledge of the space may want to know. We try to make the session conversational and to dive deep into a specific fertility-related topic and see where that takes us.
Dara: Rena and I usually do some research on the topic at hand and the interviewee and collectively come up with questions that we think would interest our listeners. However, we’ve noticed that often the less prep and the more free- flowing conversations we have are the most impactful, whether they are our friend or someone we’re meeting for the first time.
5. You’ve had at least two former infertility patients recount their own journeys. How do you make them feel comfortable and safe to share their stories?
Rena: Once someone agrees to come on they have at least some level of comfort sharing since they know what they’re getting into. I try to be as gentle and kind as possible with the questions. I am also very open about my own journey and I think when both people in a conversation are disclosing personal information and being vulnerable it makes it easier to keep it real and genuine.
**Dara:** We always let our guests know that this is a safe-space. We let them tell their story and reveal as much as they feel comfortable. However, I think knowing that we have our own fertility stories can be comforting to them, which, in turn, helps them open up a bit more.
6. The podcast is a new endeavor for the two of you. Now that you’ve recorded many episodes, what has been most surprising or unexpected from the whole experience?
Rena: I have very much enjoyed the feeling of empowerment that has come out of these episodes and hearing our patients’ gratitude (we like to end each episode by saying something we are grateful for). As difficult as it was and is to go through infertility treatment, I think it’s very inspiring to hear other women speak up and be a part of this amazing community that is sharing its voice.
**Dara:** I’m usually the one being interviewed, so being the interviewer, at first, was overwhelming. Now that we’ve had so many recordings, it’s much easier to help lead the discussion and make our guests feels more comfortable so they can be themselves and open up. What’s also so surprising is how many resources there are out there for people. It makes me so happy to see! I’m learning so much with every guest.
7. As you’ve interviewed guests, are there any strategies or things you’ve taken away from your interviews that you now apply to working with your own patients?
Rena: I have certainly learned something from each and every guest and so I definitely take that knowledge with me into any conversation I have with a patient. You never know when it may be applicable!
Dara: YES! I’ve learned so many more mindfulness techniques to help my patients lower their stress levels. Wellness encompasses so much more than what we put in our bodies. The mind/body connection is so fascinating. I also feel like I have much more compassion for my patients and more patience to really hear them!
8. Who is your dream guest?
Rena: That’s a tough one…I am going to go with Brene Brown!
Dara: I’ve already had one of my dream guests (Dr. Jorge Chavarro) who spoke about his in-depth research on nutrition and fertility, but it would be incredible to have Dan Harris (from Ten Percent Happier) since I use his app to meditate. He has helped expand and normalize meditation, making it less overwhelming or intimidating. I think fertility patients would benefit from that.
9. What are some future topics you’re hoping to discuss?
Rena: I would love to keep talking about the importance of mindfulness and the power of positive psychology. I have seen firsthand the concrete difference it makes in how patients respond to treatment (and other life stressors) and the practice is so powerful. I am a huge believer in it and want to keep spreading the gospel so that it can change other people’s lives as well!
Dara: I would love to have a discussion on how the environment we live in today is negatively impacting our body and ultimately our reproductive potential. From the food we eat, to the packaging we use, to the air we breathe – how we take care of the earth plays a role in infertility.
10. What do you envision for the future of the podcast? What are your hopes for it?
Rena: I would love for the podcast to continue to grow with listeners. I cringe every time a patient tells me they have been on “Dr Google” or they’re seeking out information on a social media platform and I just want them to get accurate information and know that they aren’t alone! I would also love for this to grow and evolve into a nurturing community of strong and empowered women.
Dara: My hopes and dreams are to continue providing informative content to our listeners to give them some guidance and support throughout their fertility journey. And to have fun throughout it all!
11. In your own practices, both of you recommend that your patients exercise mindfulness or the act of being present. Are there any resources you find particularly helpful when practicing mindfulness?
Rena: For apps I love Headspace, Calm, and Stop Breathe & Think. I also highly recommend the book Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change by Pema Chodron or anything by Pema Chodron. The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer is another favorite of mine. It really taps into the tradition of mindfulness and how it can help us live in the present and let go of memories or thoughts that keep us from achieving happiness. There are two meditation centers in New York City I have visited – Woom Center and Inscape – that I find really help get me into a mindful zone.
Dara: I really like the apps Ten Percent Happier and Insight Timer. Both apps lead you through guided meditations that help calm your mind and manage stress. The book Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday is also a great read on why slowing down is actually the secret weapon to get ahead.
Fertility Forward is dedicated to bringing listeners cutting edge and accurate information on different aspects of fertility. If you are interested in hearing from a wide range of experts on a variety of relevant subjects, subscribe and listen today. New episodes launch every week rmany.com/podcast.