The process of trying to have a baby can be long and challenging for those experiencing fertility problems. In addition to seeking treatment support, it can be helpful to establish a self-supportive plan to resource yourself. This will provide you with the resilience and energy to go through treatment and manage the tests rather than feeling completely overwhelmed by it all. We can only draw water from a well with water in it. Running on empty can lead to feeling out of control, anxious and emotionally depleted when faced with the more challenging aspects of IUI, IVF, donation or coping with friends and family announcing their pregnancy.
Taking time to nurture yourself also ensures that you optimise your physical and emotional health and wellness. This naturally leads to increased self-confidence – which can often take a knock when experiencing fertility problems. Investing in a self-care plan also promotes a sense of closeness to ourselves and others which increases self-acceptance and personal fulfilment.
Self-nurturing support can include:
- Relaxation techniques. Find one that works for you and aim to practice it every day. My favourite free app, ‘Insight Timer – Meditation App’ has over 10,000 guided meditations to choose from. Try it!
- Compile a relaxation CD of your favourite music. You may also wish to listen to this when undergoing medical procedures such as scans, transfers etc.
- Allow ‘time out’ to just ‘be’ rather than always ‘doing’ or planning. Perhaps, allocate some time to spend in nature or take a quiet walk (no headphones!)
- Mindful activity. Focus your attention fully on an activity or job in your ‘today, right now’ moment rather than focusing all your attention on the future.
- Be with others. Contact a supportive friend or an understanding family member. Have date nights with a promise not to discuss fertility problems. Trust you are most likely doing all you can and need some fertility free areas in your life.
- Do something different. Observe how you respond when challenged and try to modify your response and learn a more helpful approach, e.g. what would I recommend to a friend in this situation?
- Grounding techniques. Often we can become caught up in our internal world and self-dialogue, and we become disassociated from the reality of our day to day experience. Turn off your automatic pilot mind and divert your focus to your environment, taking it in with all your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, taste and feel? Think of an imaginary safe place that you enjoy and take yourself there by visualising it. Draw on this visualisation to elicit feelings of relaxation.
- Hold a comforting object or a favourite picture/photograph before going through a procedure.
Learn to communicate assertively (rather than passively or aggressively) and write down your questions for your medical practitioner or doctor.
- Engage in a hobby or other interest. What have you enjoyed in the past, before you became aware of fertility issues? Remember that fertility problems are not 100% who you are.
- Learn some deep relaxation skills such as breath work, the body scan or mindful movement (e.g. gentle low impact yoga). This will help to calm the nervous system and bring equilibrium to your mind and body. Over time, this can help in balancing hormones and releasing endorphins, to positively influence your mood.
Try these nurturing activities in the lead up to and during your treatment and you are likely to feel more empowered and grounded whilst also enjoying the other important areas of your life.