Self-care during IVF is rarely the first thing on an expectant mother’s mind, but it can’t be the last either.
Infertility comes with a whirlwind of difficulties, downfalls, and disappointments for many parents. Even leading up to the process of IVF can prove to be a harrowing experience. During the IVF process, schedules are usually tight, as are budgets. There are a million questions that need to be answered and obstacles to be overcome. It’s not unusual for an expectant mother to lose sight of her own well-being during the process. But, for the health of your baby, you must be mindful of your own.
It’s rare that friends, or even family member will know what to say or how to act, which can be extremely disappointing during such a tumultuous time. However, as an expectant mom experiencing IVF, remember that it’s a learning experience for everyone. Keep lines of communication open and be realistic with your expectations.
Some of the most important things to keep in mind is what you can expect from the process and how you will react. From diagnosis through to embryo transfer, every stage brings its own challenges. Make sure that you find ways to mitigate your stress levels and carve out quality time to spend with those people that are most important to you.
What to Expect
The process of IVF can be emotionally, physically, and financially exhausting. For many women, it can mark one of the most distressing times of their lives. It’s important during this process to talk with other mom’s that have experienced the situation themselves and prepare yourself for the difficulties that lie ahead.
Hormones, hormones, hormones
Emotions will be flying during the steps leading up to egg retrieval and after implantation has taken place. Many women joke about hormonal changes and mood swings during pregnancy, but throughout IVF, prepare yourself for the added intensity. Throughout the process there are multiple fertility treatments and hormonal medications that you’ll have to take.
No Pain, No Gain
While often quick, fertility treatments can cause some women pain. Pain during procedures, pain at injection sites, headaches, cramping, achy joints, fatigue… while extreme bouts of pain will need to be monitored by your doctor, the inherent discomfort that goes hand in hand with typical IVF treatments will have to be weathered by yourself and your loved ones. Make sure they’re aware of what to expect and be ready to provide extra support and sensitivity during this time.
Becoming overwhelmed with everything that’s going on is completely understandable. Many women report difficulty concentrating and focusing during the early stages of IVF. Prepare yourself to take some time off work if you have a mentally or physically demanding job. Make sure that even though people will naturally have a ton of questions, that they respect your limitations and boundaries.
Outside of the normal hormonally mitigated mood swings, IVF treatments put most people on edge. With the weight of financial responsibilities, and the uncertainty surrounding the pregnancy, it’s completely natural for women in this position to be a little more touchy than usual. While it’s important to find ways to relax and take calming moments, it’s also equally necessary to allow yourself to vent some steam from time to time.
Providing the Best Care
Dealing with these natural and perfectly normal difficulties can feel debilitating at times. To ensure that you’re able to provide yourself the best care possible, find ways to relax that work for you.
Set boundaries early
It’s good to be firm with people early about what they can expect from you, as well as what you need to be able to expect from them. It’s important to be clear without being rude, but let people know early that you may not be able to easily compromise on your needs during this time. Create a solid support system early and be open and honest with the people that mean the most to you, keeping them abreast of the situation as it unfolds. This way they are better equipped to supply you with the care you need.
Everyone has an activity that they can just lose themselves in. Whether is reading, drawing, or just watching some trashy TV. Find what it is that will help you to zone out. Meditation is something that works for many expectant moms, but don’t feel pressured to perform activities that don’t speak to you directly. Whatever mini vacation your mind wants to take, let it go. Take inspiration from your everyday life as well as from friends and family.
Find a therapist or counselor. Reach out to friends and family often. Many clinics can suggest support groups in your community where you can go and talk to other families that are experiencing similar obstacles. If you’re feeling less than social (which is perfectly okay) reach out to any of the large number of online communities. There are forums, support groups, Facebook groups and blogs. The internet is filled with positive and supportive communities founded by people who can closely identify to what you’re going through.
Create a Rewards System
You’ll undoubtedly be spread thin running to appointments and procedures, reading, researching, and interacting with all of the people who will want to closely follow your journey. Make sure that you create small holidays or stay-cations where you and your partner can send time together. Create positive moments throughout the process. Try and create a semi-regular schedule for these excursions so you’ll both have small milestones to look forward to. From weekends away or just a spa day at home, create time for just the two of you.