We don’t know if stress impacts fertility but we do know that infertility causes stress. That said, it is helpful to develop some coping skills to get through your treatments. And maybe these new skills will help you sail through all of life’s upcoming hurdles with flying colors.
First off, know that anxiety and stress alone do not affect fertility. So if you freaked out once or twice or even more, it is not the reason you’re having trouble building a family.
However, if over-eating, smoking, drinking or drugs is how you currently deal with stress, let’s get you some healthier tools. It’s important to discover what works for you, as an individual. And now is the time to learn how to successfully steer yourself towards good decisions.
1. Make a time to worry
Allow yourself an hour to focus on your commitment to having a baby and the struggle your going through. We suggest writing in a journal. Jot down all the questions and concerns you have. Sometimes getting them out of your brain and onto a sheet of paper is a tremendous stress reliever. Write down your emotions, what you’ve tried, your concerns and take time to address them one by one. As you progress through your treatments, you’ll learn an enormous amount about fertility and a journal is an excellent way to keep track of all the information as well as create a keepsake for your future self.
You can also take your questions with you so you remember to ask your provider all of them and fill in their answers.
2. Breathing Exercises
Focusing on 10 large, expansive, belly-filling breaths is a central practice in many calming routines because it has instant effects on the body. Harvard Medical School notes that it can “can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.”
Set an afternoon and evening reminder on your phone to breathe. Wake up with ten deep breaths. Or, take deep breaths before meals or another daily activity. Harvard Medical School recommends getting ten to twenty minutes of deep breathing, per day.
Mild to moderate exercise is one of the best relaxation techniques, especially for those with anxiety. You may be nervous about exercising with IVF, but low-impact exercise is a good thing. There may be certain days to skip activity(like retrieval or implantation day) but taking walks in nature does miracles to soothe the mind, body and spirit. Overall, work within your comfort zone, avoid high impact exercises, stick to moderate levels of activity, and always ask your doctor if you have questions.
4. Tense up to relax
Progressive relaxation is one of the best IVF relaxation techniques that you can practice anywhere. It allows you to notice where you’re storing your muscular tension. Once you notice it, you can relax it during the day.
To perform a progressive relaxation routine, start at one end of your body (typically the toes). Slowly tense up, or tighten each area. Then, focus on relaxing
it and letting the tension go. Pair it with deep, belly breaths. Move to the next section until you’re at your face and head. Mayo Clinic recommends holding muscular tension for five seconds and relaxing for 30 seconds in between.
5. Find self-care activities that relax you
Carve out time to do the things you love. The previous IVF relaxation techniques are foundational. Pair them with self-care activities that bring you delight in order to truly learn how to relax during IVF therapy.
6. Add something healthy into your diet
We don’t recommend that you change your eating habit completely; if fact, some strict diets can do you harm. But add a healthy snack you can feel good about each week. These small acts can work like a catalyst to help you feel more positive and in control of your life as you go through fertility treatments.
Try a handful of raw almonds to replace chips or an antioxidant-filled, low fat berry smoothie to replace ice cream.
7. Get your vitamins tested and make adjustments
Not all IVF treatments are successful the first time and there are plenty of reasons to make sure you are in tip-top shape before you spend the money. Get your blood work done to see if you have any vitamin deficiencies, and if you are low in iron find a supplement that works for you. Your clinic’s recommended prenatal vitamin is of the utmost importance but you may need a boost in another form. While B12 shots are trending most Seattleites are Vitamin D deficient especially in winter and adding a liquid form to a glass of water is an easy and efficient way to get more sunshine nourishment while you hydrate.
8. Get your blood moving
Low impact exercise is great for reliving stress but you also may want to take up fertility yoga or see an acupuncturist that specializes in fertility. These activities focus on strengthening the way your blood moves through your whole body and can provide a more holistic approach to fertility. We don’t know if they have a positive effect on the outcome, but we do know many of our patients feel more in control of their destiny adding these things in to their routine.
9. Get Out and Enjoy an Active Social Life
Go to new restaurants or out to hear live music. Have a cocktail in a trendy bar. Travel or make a spa day with friends. Host an adults only dinner party. Once you have a baby, these things will feel deliciously indulgent because they will become almost impossible. It may feel difficult to celebrate life at this moment, but now is an opportunity to really focus on enjoying your partner and spending time with them. Also relish your alone time and pamper yourself.
10. Learn more about your IVF journey
Some patients find it is like earning a degree in fertility treatments. You’ll most likely understand human bodies and conception better than 99% of the population by the time you’ve completed your first IVF. While it is stressful, it’s also a lot of valuable information in a field that is exciting and cutting edge.
The more you understand each process, the most empowered you’ll feel about going through it. Educate yourself and ask lots of questions. Join a group of other fertility warriors so you feel less alone and can share your knowledge, struggles, and success.
At Overlake Reproductive Health, our team knows that IVF and other fertility treatments can be stressful. We aim to guide our patients through treatments, while meeting both their physical and emotional needs.
If you have more questions about how to relax during IVF or are interested in getting started, contact our team to get started. We’re always here to answer your questions!