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The Best Tips You Need for Self Care During IVF
The tips you need to get through IVF treatment.
February 4, 2021
In vitro fertilization (IVF) involves taking eggs from a person’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm outside of the body. The embryo can then be frozen or implanted into the uterus. IVF is used as an option for couples or people struggling with fertility as another method to attempt to get pregnant. Fertility issues are very common, with around 15% of American couples struggling with their fertility. In 2018, it was estimated that eight million babies have been born successfully through IVF.
While this is an exciting number, IVF is not super accessible, as it is very physically and emotionally taxing, and it is very expensive. An average IVF cycle costs around $12,000, and with a 29.5% success rate for first time IVF treatments, it’s pretty likely you’ll end up spending much more. The combination of the emotional and physical burden with the financial one makes it incredibly important for all people going through IVF to prioritize themselves through self care. Here are some top tips and ideas for managing self care during IVF treatment.
Clear Your Schedule
When you’re going through IVF treatment, there are a lot of things going. There is the physical aspect of getting the injection of the embryo, there is the mental and emotional aspect of hoping that it will work, and there is the fiscal aspect of shelling out a lot of cash. Keeping your schedule relatively clear is important for several key reasons. For one thing, it will help you get into a relaxed and unrushed headspace for appointments. For another, it will give you the space necessary to recover, process, and grieve if the cycle is unsuccessful. This does not mean you should be planning for the worst case scenario, but it allows you to be in the best position possible if that does happen, minimizing discomfort and pain. Clearing your schedule will also allow you to focus on yourself in a time that is sure to be stressful.
Get a Therapist
If you do not have one already, find a therapist. Specifically, a therapist who has experience with or is familiar with the process of IVF. As has already been mentioned, IVF takes a huge toll on your mental health, making it extremely important to practice and prioritize taking care of yourself. Finding a therapist will allow you to speak openly and honestly with another person. You will be able to tell them all of your deepest concerns and biggest fears, no matter how upsetting, confidentially. This will also allow you a space away from loved ones and friends to feel your emotions and cry if you need to. Therapy and allowing yourself to feel your emotions in a supportive space is an incredible way to rid yourself of emotional burden.
You, or maybe you and a partner are in the middle of a very emotional process that involves a lot of stress and emotions. If you are going through the process with a partner, it can be hard to communicate your feelings out of fear of stressing them out or upsetting them further. Seeing a therapist will also provide you with tools to manage the high stress of the treatment as well as the many emotions that come with any potential outcomes.
Yoga and Meditation
When you are gearing up for and going through IVF treatment, it may be wise to avoid vigorous exercise. Make sure to check in with your doctor about what level of exercise is going to be tolerable for you during the process. Yoga is a great habit because it is a wonderful workout while not being too strenuous. Yoga is great for strengthening muscles and keeping your heart healthy which will help you through pregnancy and also in giving birth. Yoga also centers around relaxation and mindfulness, making it a powerful workout for your brain as well as your body.
You can incorporate meditation into your yoga practice to keep yourself centered and emotionally in tune with yourself. Meditation can be as simple as sitting in a quiet room and allowing your thoughts to gather. There are many apps available for those who feel they need more guidance with incorporating meditation into their routine, but the number one thing to keep in mind with meditation is centering yourself in the present moment. This means that when you are meditating, you are forcing yourself to be in a space that does not factor in any of the future stress that is inevitable with IVF treatment.
Put Yourself First
More than anything else, this process is about you. When going through IVF treatment, it is easy to lose sight of yourself in all the emotions, worries, and ups and downs, especially when paired with the existing struggles of your usual life. Practice putting yourself first. You’re on the path to hopefully becoming a parent, and prioritizing yourself is going to be an important skill to learn for parenthood as well. Putting yourself first means something different to everyone, but doing things like maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, scheduling specific time for yourself, and doing gentle movement are good places to start.
Getting on a good sleep schedule will help your body stay in the best possible shape to support you through treatment, negative outcomes, and even pregnancy. Prioritizing sleep can mean turning down social opportunities. This can be hard to do, but it can also be very important. Forcing yourself to maintain your usual social life during a time as stressful and emotional and exhausting as IVF treatment is usually pretty unattainable. Your friends might be let down in the moment, but they’ll be happy to see you taking care of yourself and putting yourself in the best position to become pregnant and have a baby. When you’re trying to get pregnant, being around friends and family members with babies can be very emotional, and there is no need to put yourself through that unnecessary pain. Opt out of any situations that will not alleviate your growing stress. You will feel better, and everyone around you will too.
Above all else, try not to feel guilt or blame towards yourself for your fertility struggles. Many people struggle with the same issues, and there is nothing specifically wrong with you. Seek out people who have experienced infertility, and use their stories and experiences to remind yourself that while what you’re going through is stressful and painful, it is not unique to you. You should be the main focus of this process. Put yourself first.
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