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Carey Cook wants queer couples to know their childbirth options

She helps LGBTQ couples manage the emotional and medical hurdles of pregnancy.
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Carey Cook

· 4 min read

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This week’s Making Rounds spotlights Carey Cook, an LGBTQ fertility coach who runs Embodied Pride, a North Carolina-based practice that guides queer couples through the childbirth process.

Cook focuses primarily on coaching queer families through the emotional complexities they may face when trying to conceive. Because that process frequently includes medical procedures a straight couple may not need to become pregnant, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI), where sperm reaches the uterus through a catheter, Cook’s work also centers on helping clients navigate the medical world.

Cook spoke about how queer and straight fertility may differ, social progress in how the public sees queer families, and the expanding array of options available to queer couples who want children.

This article has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How does the job of an LGBTQ fertility coach differ from the work of a coach focused on straight couples?

Straight families have fertility challenges that come up, also, so I’m definitely not saying that these challenges are only specific to the queer community. Straight couples may have to go do IUI or [in vitro fertilization] at some point.

For a queer family, in the very beginning, it’s very much in the medical world. You start with some sort of process where you often have to use artificial reproductive technology and medication. You have to go into a clinic. You have to find a donor. It’s just a lot of logistics. So that is one of the top differences. Not to mention accessibility, like finances and insurance coverage.

My coaching service is around the stressors that go into that roller coaster.

What’s the best change you’ve seen in your field?

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Normalization is probably the best answer. There are some outdated misconceptions. I feel like it’s rare that I come across these within the queer community, and they’re still guiding a lot of the problem. Like same-sex families, non-traditional families are not real families, or the LGBTQ community cannot have biological children. These are misconceptions that were really big for a while. A lot of people are starting to say, “That’s not true.”

What about your own contributions to positive change in a workplace?

Being able to help people really honor their own feelings.

Even though I do specialize in the emotional wellness and mental health of people, it is really cool to also share so many resources with them. Because I work with so many different types of people—even though I’m not a medical professional, and I certainly don’t offer medical advice—I can often say, “Hey, I have heard of this thing; you can ask your doctor about it.”

Science has come so far—there’s so many options. Women can carry each other’s eggs and trans men can freeze their eggs and implant them in a surrogate or partner. Being able to just offer up different ideas for people to navigate the healthcare system.

This is something I didn’t expect. I thought I would come up with this amazing program to help people through big feelings: the anger, the resentment, the boundaries, the grief that goes into queer fertility. And what I didn’t know is how much I would spend time helping people doing various, small, nuanced things, like having conversations with medical professionals, getting organized around a plan, figuring out who they want in their inner circle of who they share their journey with. So that has been a really kind of a surprisingly cool aspect of this job as well.

Navigate the healthcare industry

Healthcare Brew covers pharmaceutical developments, health startups, the latest tech, and how it impacts hospitals and providers to keep administrators and providers informed.