Everyone has dreams. Your dream may be to buy a house in Singapore or write a book or get out of debt. Many people have the dream of having a baby, but some people struggle with attaining that dream. When experiencing trouble trying to conceive, It can be easy to get so consumed in the fertility treatments and doctor’s appointments that you forget to take care of yourself. Sometimes becoming pregnant can seem like a full-time job in itself.
Stress levels can take a toll on your physical and mental health, so it is important to incorporate self-care exercises that can help you deal with the roller coaster of emotions that you go through when trying to conceive. Stress may even be the leading factor in many cases of infertility. Making a plan and following through will help you manage the stress and anxiety and feel your best while you try to attain your dream. Here are a few tips:
Each month, you will have about two weeks between ovulation and when you can take a pregnancy test. This time can seem to drag out forever as you anxiously await to see if the results are what you want. It is important to make plans during this time to help take your mind off of the upcoming pregnancy test. You should make plans with people who support you and care about you. You can use this time to go on dates with your partner to help strengthen your relationship or you can plan a night out with friends. It is important to not spend all your time waiting and to go out and have a little fun to take your mind off things!
Listen to Your Body
During times of stress, it is easy to stop following through with your routine healthy habits. It may even be very easy to slip into bad habits to try to combat the stress instead of dealing with trying to conceive in more in healthy ways. Keeping your body healthy is not only important for your everyday life, but it will also increase your chances of becoming pregnant. If your doctor has prescribed supplements or medications, or recommended a dietary change, be sure that you follow them carefully.
With all that is going on in your life right now, it may seem difficult to get enough sleep, but try to get as much high-quality sleep as possible. Having enough rest will increase your energy levels and help you deal with stress effectively. A lack of good sleep can also negatively affect your hormone levels. Keeping a regular sleep schedule, getting a little bit of exercise each day, and avoiding technology right before bed can help you get the rest you need.
It may seem natural to put your hobbies on hold right now and just deal with the task at hand, but don’t give up on the things you love! Eliminating the relaxing things that make you happy is only going to make this time harder. If your hobbies are active, that is even better! Moderate exercise is very helpful for fertility and helps the body deal with stress in a healthy way. You can also play games, read books, learn to cook new recipes or explore a new crafting hobby. The things you used to do to relax are more important than ever, so keep doing them!
Your body’s working overtime right now. In addition to dealing with added stress in your life due to doctor’s appointments and tracking schedules and cycles, you are also probably doing hormone treatments that can take a toll on your body. It is important to realize how amazing your body is and how hard it is working right now, and treat yourself to some pampering. Going to get a manicure or a pedicure with a friend or by yourself can help you relax and treat your body to a little extra pampering. You may also want to consider going to get a massage. Massages are great for releasing stress and relaxing. Regular massages can also help you eliminate built-up stress that you are holding in your body that may be causing deeper aches and pains.
During times of stress, it is really important to practice mindfulness in order to gain some perspective and be in tune with what your needs are at the moment. Trying to conceive, especially when it is not happening when or how you envisioned, can cause a lot of stress. Pausing to focus on what is happening right now and doing breathing exercises is a great way to keep stress levels low.
Infertility and trying to conceive can also take a toll on your relationship with your partner. It is important to make your relationship a priority. It can be easy to only talk about the latest doctor’s appointment or schedule or medication, but try to put all those things on hold sometimes and just focus on each other. You used to do things together that did not revolve around trying to have a baby, so don’t stop now! This can even be good practice for making time for each other after the baby comes, and life becomes even more hectic!
Evaluate Your Plan
It is important to periodically evaluate your plan for becoming a parent. There are many ways to become a parent, from fertility treatments to IVF to surrogacy to adoption. Just because you are not able to become a parent in the way you envisioned does not mean that you have to give up on your dream. You and your partner should have serious conversations with your doctor about what may be alternate courses for you to take and adjust your plan as needed.
Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy. In her role as a physician caring for high-risk pregnancies, she has counseled and treated hundreds of women over the years in her very own situation, and has found a whole new respect for the challenges and complications a woman may experience when trying to have a baby later in life.
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