If you’re doing fertility treatments, chances are pretty good that you’re stressing the fuck out. Not only do you have the logistics of appointments and medications (and physical/emotional weirdness from said medications), but if you found your way to fertility treatments after dealing with infertility, then you’ve got the emotional burdens from THAT whole awfulness.
And then, as if the whole process wasn’t stressful enough, then you have to stress about STRESSING, because everyone tells you that anxiety will negatively influence your chances of getting pregnant. Not stressing isn’t just an issue of sanity — it’s an issue of treatment effectiveness. AARGH!
So, that’s all fine and good: DON’T STRESS. But how? How can you keep yourself calm and non-anxious during the mind-fuck that is fertility treatments? The key: SELF-CARE.
Here were the self-care steps I took for myself during my own process of fertility treatments:
- Weekly talk therapy
- Weekly massage therapy
- Twice-weekly baths
- Made a weird bargain with myself: if the treatments didn’t work, I would get a special consolation prize. In my case, it was a trip to NYC. The goal is to have something to look forward to no matter what. Pregnancy or … something else awesome!
This might sound like a LOT of self care, but I needed it and still had a few days where I just laid in bed and cried, thanks to the combo of the fertility drugs and the stress/anticipation. If you have the resources to pay for treatments, I highly recommend scheduling time at the spa and with every gentle body-worker/woo-woo practitioner you know and trust. Is reiki your thing? BOOK IT. Sound healing? SCHEDULE IT. When you’re knee-deep in invasive Western medicine fertility treatments, the more holistic/spiritual treatments can feel deeply healing and do a lot to keep you sane.
Ok, fine. But what about when you DON’T have those resources? Fertility treatments are expensive, and having budget left-over for aura cleansing can be a serious challenge. My personal self-care plan definitely reflects the extreme privilege of the great health insurance I had at the time, which covered stuff like therapy and massage. Even if you don’t have the resources for paid mellowing treatments, you can prioritize free self-care like:
- frequent baths or showers
- scheduling your day to be in bed for at least 8 hours each night
- calling in on any and all support you may have from friends & family
- taking frequent breaks during the day to close your eyes and breathe slowly, even if it’s just for 30 seconds
- being intentional about food so that you don’t find yourself starving and frantic
- scheduling gentle, relaxing physical activities like walking around the block or stretching at home
- singing to yourself
- making your house as comfortable as possible — reduce the kinds of clutter that freak you out when you walk in the door. Make a little clean, quiet corner for yourself.
- truly prioritizing the deeply relaxing activities that mean the most for you.
When I did IVF in 2009, I also did acupuncture immediately before/after the embryo transfer. There’s research to suggest it helps with implantation rates… but for me personally, the value for me was in book-ending something so emotional and heavily charged with some extreme relaxation. I did 45 minutes of quiet acupuncture in a dim room, then drove straight to the brightly lit fertility clinic, and then drove straight back for 45 more minutes of relaxing acupuncture. I’m not sure what I would have done OTHER than stress out during the time immediately before and after my embryo transfer.
My goal during the heinous anxiety of fertility treatments was to worry and fret as little as possible by doing overkill amounts of self-care. So, whatever self-care makes you feel calm? Prioritize it the same way you prioritize your invasive fertility treatments and medications. Whatever resources you may or may not have available, schedule a ton of self-care during fertility treatments — and then DOUBLE IT. You cannot be too calm.