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The 3 Essential Things You Should Do During IVF
Best practices for your maternal well-being when undergoing IVF
September 7, 2020
When undergoing IVF, it’s essential to practice self care. Here are three essential things that you can do during this time to get you feeling your best!
1. Take Care of Your Body
During IVF, it’s crucial to take care of your body. Stress can get in the way of self care, so it’s important to stick to good habits. Here are a couple of oldies-but-goodies to slip into your daily routine.
Eat well: Your body needs nutrients, especially when undergoing IVF! When you’re stressed, it’s easy to throw healthy eating out the window and opt in for comfort food. Just remember to enjoy comfort food in moderation. If you pay attention to what you’re eating, you’ll no doubt feel more energized, and maybe even a bit less stressed.
Get plenty of sleep: Another unfortunate side effect of being stressed is not getting enough sleep, or even getting too much sleep. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day can help you regulate that sleep cycle, and keep your physical health in ship-shape. And, if you’re having trouble getting to sleep, try to cut down your blue light exposure before bed!
Exercise: While it’s a good idea to cut back on the vigorous activities for now, there are still lots of great ways to get moving and release some endorphins! Whether it’s going on daily walks, doing some yoga minus the inversions, or some light swimming, reduced impact activities can have a great impact on both your mood and your quality of sleep.
2. Make Time for Mental Health
With all the anxieties surrounding fertilization, IVF may be a stressful process for you. During this period, it’s really important that you attend to your mental health, and keep a positive outlook.
Not only that, mental health is actually also crucial during pregnancy itself, IVF or no. It turns out maternal mental health and infant health are more correlated than you might think. According to recent studies, prenatal maternal mental health has been shown to affect infant behavior and temperament.
Why? Scientifically, the periods of pregnancy and postpartum actually overlap with a rapid period of child brain development. Besides just depression or general anxiety, anxieties about birth logistics have been reported to affect birth outcomes (such as premature birth, or the infant’s birth weight). These types of anxieties can vary, but they could be anything from concerns about giving birth, to whether a child would be handicapped, to changes in appearance like gaining weight.
It’s also crucial to point out that if you’re not feeling your best mentally during this period, you’re definitely not alone. About 15-20% of women will experience depressive symptoms over the course of their pregnancy. That means during the pregnancy itself, too, not just the postpartum part that we most commonly hear about!
With all that in mind, here are some mental health practices you can try if you’re unsure of where to start, or just want to branch out to try something new.
Keep a journal: Not a diary, per say- for mental health, it’s becoming more and more common to do something called Freewriting. Start writing and just let your thoughts flow- no punctuation, and no time spent worrying about spelling. You could start with a prompt, or what happened today, or just dive right into what you’re stressed about! Plus, it helps to make it a habit- set a time every day where you can journal (even if it’s only ten minutes) and stick to it. You’ll be able to see results in no time!
Try a meditative activity: It’s great for your mental health to take time out of your day for something you find calming. You could try meditation if that’s your thing, but it could also be something as simple as a repetitive task. Some great meditative tasks include:
-Crafting (embroidery, crochet, you name it!)
-Painting or drawing
-Baking or cooking
-Washing the dishes/ tidying up
Try a soothing activity: These kinds of activities are things you can do to feel physically calmer, too! Why not clear your thoughts and indulge in some of these soothing practices:
-Drawing a warm bath
-Drink a cup of tea
-Curl up in a blanket
-Cuddle with your partner
3. Revive the Romance
While maternal anxieties have been shown to affect infant behavior, there’s actually more to the story. In a study using the Pregnancy-Related Anxiety Questionnaire (PRAQ-R2), there was only one subset of questions that reliably predicted negative maternal mental health and the resulting infant temperament issues.
And those questions were all about worries about oneself and one’s partner.
If you’ve experienced these kinds of anxieties, don’t stress! Here are some ideas of how to move forward and improve your mental health.
Address your concerns: Talk with your partner about your worries about co-parenting. It always helps to talk and establish a good dialogue, especially before the due date.
Revive the romance: Studies have shown that focusing on one’s romantic relationship can help with mood changes, and help prevent postpartum depression. So why not make your relationship a priority? Go to your favorite spots, get in all those one-last-time-without-kids moments- really enjoy time in each other’s company, and get back in touch with the spark that brought you together.
Seek outside guidance: If you feel like you might need a little extra help in this department, it’s definitely worth seeking it out. Couples counseling can be a great way to give you and your partner a space to air grievances and concerns in a healthy, mediated way.
Whether your thing is a hot bath or a swim in a cold pool, the most important thing is to listen to your own needs and take good care of yourself. Don’t leave anything unchecked- talk your feelings out, and make yourself a priority. And, of course, the 4th ~secret~ essential thing you should do during IVF is communicate with your doctor. If you have any concerns, questions, or need some resources to help you through this time, don’t be afraid to reach out. They’re there for you, and they’re here to help!
There are tons of resources available to promote physical health for people during pregnancy, but less conversation about the mental side of staying in shape during pregnancy. Pregnancy is one of the biggest life changes a person can go through in their lifetime, and it is important to realize that and treat yourself with care, admiration, and love during it.
How to prioritize your mental health during pregnancy.
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