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

4min read

Photo Courtesy of Natalist

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.

3 Min Read

Help! Am I A Fraud?

The Armchair Psychologist has all the answers you need!

Help! I Might Get Fired!

Dear Armchair Psychologist,

What's the best way to be prepared for a layoff? Because of the crisis, I am worried that my company is going to let me go soon, what can I do to be prepared? Is now a good time to send resumes? Should I save money? Redesign my website? Be proactive at work? Make myself non-disposable?

- Restless & Jobless

Dear Restless & Jobless,

I'm sorry that you're feeling anxious about your employment status. There are many people like yourself in this pandemic who are navigating an uncertain future, many have already lost their jobs. In my experience as a former professional recruiter for almost a decade, I always told my candidates the importance of periodically being passively on the market. This way, you'd know your worth, and you'd be able to track the market rates that may have changed over time, and sometimes even your job title which might have evolved unbeknownst to you.

This is a great time to reach out to your network, update your online professional presence (LinkedIn etc.), and send resumes. Though I'm not a fan of sending a resume blindly into a large database. Rather, talk to friends or email acquaintances and have them directly introduce you to someone who knows someone at a list of companies and people you have already researched. It's called "working closest to the dollar."

Here's a useful article with some great COVID-times employment tips; it suggests to "post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters." If you're able to, try to steer away from focusing too much on the possibility of getting fired, instead spend your energy being the best you can be at work, and also actively being on the job market. Schedule as many video calls as you can, there's nothing like good ol' face-to-face meetings to get yourself on someone's radar. If your worries get the best of you, I recommend you schedule time with a qualified therapist. When you're ready, lean into that video chat and werk!

- The Armchair Psychologist


Dear Armchair Psychologist,

I'm an independent consultant in NYC. I just filed for unemployment, but I feel a little guilty collecting because a) I'm not looking for a job (there are none anyway) and b) the company that will pay just happens to be the one that had me file a W2 last year; I've done other 1099 work since then.

- Guilt-Ridden

Dear Name,

I'm sorry that you're wracked with guilt. It's admirable that your conscience is making you re-evaluate whether you are entitled to "burden the system" so to speak as a state's unemployment funds can run low. Shame researchers, like Dr. Brené Brown, believe that the difference between shame and guilt is that shame is often rooted in the self/self-worth and is often destructive whereas guilt is based on one's behavior and compels us to do better. "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it's holding something we've done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort."

Your guilt sounds like a healthy problem. Many people feel guilty about collecting unemployment benefits because of how they were raised and the assumption that it's akin to "seeking charity." You're entitled to your unemployment benefits, and it was paid into a fund for you by your employer with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Also, you aren't committing an illegal act. The benefits are there to relieve you in times when circumstances prevent you from having a job. Each state may vary, but the NY State Department of Labor requires that you are actively job searching. The Cares Act which was passed in March 2020 also may provide some relief. I recommend that you collect the relief you need but to be sure that you meet the criteria by actively searching for a job just in case anyone will hire you.

- The Armchair Psychologist