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Photo Courtesy of Natalist

Need Help Getting Pregnant? This Female Led Startup Is Breaking The Stigma Around Infertility

4 Min Read
Health

It seems that most people are more interested in how not to get pregnant these days, but where can you turn to when you actually want the opposite? That is where Natalist steps in. After experiencing the struggles of IVF first-hand, Natalist founder and CEO, Halle Tecco, (former founder of venture capital fund Rock Health) was inspired to start a company that connects women with basic fertility support and education.

The startup's flagship product, The Get Pregnant Bundle, is a reproductive health kit that is delivered directly and discreetly right to your front door with products and resources including prenatal vitamins, ovulation tests, pregnancy tests and a complete conception guide, Conception 101. It retails for $90 as a one-time buy or $81 if purchased as part of a subscription. This bundle is the culmination of all of Tecco and Natalist's work thus far and is the key to helping this one-of-a-kind startup achieve its mission of helping women get pregnant by supplying them with doctor-approved essentials and resources.

Tecco got in depth with Swaay about her new company, her journey and what she hopes to achieve through Natalist.

What is your educational background? What got you started in the healthcare field?

In college I majored in finance while volunteering at the Cleveland Clinic and interning at the Columbia University Medical Center. The intersection of business and healthcare is in my DNA. Neither of my parents graduated from college, but my mom worked in the healthcare field and my dad was a small-business entrepreneur. I ultimately went to business school to merge these interests, where I had the opportunity to work for Apple covering the healthcare segment of the app store. That experience inspired me to start Rock Health—the first venture capital fund dedicated to digital health. From there, I went on to teach the first MBA-level course on investing in digital health at Columbia Business School, start my MPH at Johns Hopkins… and most recently started Natalist!

You mentioned you started this company after going through the IVF process. Tell us more about that experience. What did you find the most frustrating in your fertility journey?

My own personal fertility journey opened my eyes to the huge opportunity to rebuild the experience. I was probably most frustrated by the sheer amount of junk science being peddled to women. Creating a new human is one of the most exciting, yet vulnerable, times in your life. I look back at the products and services I fell for and just cringe at all the wasted time and money. I wanted to build something that helps women cut through the crap and makes their experience a little more beautiful.

What do you hope Natalist and your team would accomplish in the first year?

We want to help make babies, lots of them!

How does Natalist manage the gender dynamic of fertility issues?

We do have two men on our team, and one of them is a dad. We've learned that men are motivated to be part of this journey as well. They also deal with fertility complications (about half of infertility is male-related). Also of course both men and women grieve when a miscarriage occurs. We recently brought on a content contributor who is a urologist to help us build out content specifically around male fertility.

You mentioned one of the goals is to educate women on conception because a large number of women don't have the correct information. What do you believe is the most significant shortfall of the current health education system for women?

There is a lot of federal funding for sex education (and unfortunately also abstinence-only education, which we know doesn't work). But most of us do not get educated on how to get pregnant when we want to, so we turn to the internet. There's an insane amount of misinformation out there, and our OBGYNs don't have a ton of extra time to debunk ever myth we read during our annual visits.

What has been the response of the traditional medical community when it comes to your company's product? Has there been any push-back from licensed practitioners?

If I've learned anything in this industry, it's that the best way to improve healthcare is to work with the experts. For example, we don't plan on entering the D2C fertility drug space because we think these decisions should be made in concert with your OBGYN and not by a faceless, remote doctor who is paid per prescription.

We follow American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) guidelines and refer to them often in our content and in our first book, Conception 101. We also used ACOG and Academic Pediatric Association (APA) guidelines to develop our prenatal Duo, which includes a Prenatal Multi and Omega DHA.

I hope that by taking these steps to protect patients and not bypass the patient-provider relationship, we can build trust with the broader OBGYN community.

Why do you think there is such a stigma around infertility?

Because we don't talk about it! Once I started opening up about my struggles, I learned that so many of my friends had gone through similar experiences. One of my good girlfriends even did IVF not once, but twice. And I had no clue!

You have been pretty open about your IVF journey. Do you believe there is power in sharing your story?

I hope so. It's a balance for me. There were other women who really helped me in my journey by sharing theirs. I want to share enough that I can hopefully help carry others through their journeys. But I also want to respect the privacy of my family. In a lot of ways, my IVF journey belongs to my children and not me.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.