“Your IVF Survival Guide: getting through your cycle calmer, more positive and in control” | myMindBodyBaby
You have a hundred questions, worries, and concerns and an IVF Survival Guide would really come in handy. What can you focus on to not only feel calmer, more positive, and in control – but know you are doing everything in your control to maximize the chances of success? We will take a look at three key areas. But first…
This is a big decision
The decision to proceed to IVF is a big one and often comes after significant soul searching. You want to grow your family so desperately. Fertility and becoming pregnant have probably started to consume all of your thoughts, energy, and dictates so many of your decisions. Each month has brought such hope and optimism initially, only to have it all come crashing down again with your period or negative pregnancy test. You are ready to get off of this awful rollercoaster and while you know IVF will not be easy, at least you feel more confident it will be the step to lead to pregnancy.
Rough waters of infertility
Sound familiar? Infertility can feel like you are swimming in rough waters, with the waves crashing over you and you just can’t catch your breath. IVF seems like maybe it could be a lifejacket – something that can help you reach the shore.
You have probably spent a long time researching the procedure, budgeting the costs, and analyzing the odds of actually becoming pregnant through IVF. Not to mention the stress of contemplating managing a daunting medication schedule and then self-administering injections. All that, plus wanting to ensure you are doing ALL you can do to support the success of the IVF cycle. We’re sure you’ve asked yourself, “what else can I do to make this a success?” and probably wished for an IVF Survival Guide. Let’s look at what the research says below.
The IVF survival guide: controlling the controllable
So, what can you do to take back a little more control – and get off the IVF rollercoaster for a smoother ride? How can you do to support your fertility and mental health as you prepare to embark on this next step in your fertility journey? Research has shown that key lifestyle factors like nutrition, exercise, and reduction of psychological stress, among others, can play a role in supporting your fertility.
Key lifestyle changes you can make
When you already have a lot on your plate, contemplating lifestyle changes may seem overwhelming but they do not have to be. Even small, simple changes can help to support your fertility, increase your chances of success, and minimize the stomach-dropping heights of the IVF rollercoaster. And making small, simple changes can help you feel that YOU have a little bit of control again. Here are some examples of lifestyle changes:
- Eating simple, whole-foods
- Incorporating regular, moderate exercise into your schedule
- Practicing mindfulness
- Reducing exposure to potential toxins
- Reducing or eliminating the consumption of harmful substances
Seems simple right?
These are all great ways to support your fertility and start to feel a little bit of control back. But we get that while this list looks simple in theory, it can be hard sometimes to figure out how to apply these changes in your actual life – to feel like IVF is not a rollercoaster.
What exactly does fertility nutrition look like?
Research has shown that diet and body composition may have a significant impact on fecundability – that means the chance you will become pregnant in any given month that you are TTC (trying to conceive).
Eating for fertility looks like this:
- reducing your glycemic load (check out this recent study)
- increasing your fiber intake
- higher intake of fruits and veggies
- incorporating healthy fats (think nuts, olive oil, and avocados)
- using whole grains
- eating plant proteins (lentils and beans) instead of meat sometimes
Small changes, big impact
Now we know what you’re thinking… you said SMALL changes! This is an entire list! For some, it may be just a matter of making a few little changes to your diet. For others, a bigger commitment to nutrition may be required. Either way, we have you covered. To get you started, our in-house nutritionist has designed a super easy-to-follow IVF meal plan, loaded with delicious and simple recipes to provide IVF-focused support. Click the button for your free 1-week meal plan.
The free meal plan is based on your menstrual cycle and delivers the nutritional support you need as your cycle progresses. What do you have to lose right?
How do you exercise safely during IVF?
Regular, moderate exercise helps to support fertility. In fact, exercise has been shown to improve IVF pregnancy rates. A 2018 study concluded, “Female physical activity before IVF/ICSI cycles was associated with increased rates of clinical pregnancy and live births.” In addition to supporting pregnancy rates, for many, exercise is a form of stress relief. With IVF being a major life event that can cause a significant amount of stress, many women want to know if and how they can continue to exercise.
If you’ve searched “exercise during IVF” you probably walked away feeling more confused than you were before. Your clinic may have even offered conflicting advice. The fertility doctors we work with have admitted that exercise guidance for patients is tricky. Exercise is not their area of professional expertise and each patient is different in terms of their physical starting point. While most reproductive endocrinologists know that exercise supports fertility and there are safe options during IVF, appointment times are short and they have told us it is too difficult to get into details of safe exercise.
So, what is advised and how can keep moving?
Leading up to your IVF cycle you can continue regular, moderate exercise. The recommendations state 150 minutes of exercise per week, broken up over at least 3 days of the week. Activities like running, brisk walking, fitness classes, spinning – all good options! As you begin and progress through your IVF cycle you will need to be conscious of the changes to your body. The medication involved in IVF is stimulating your ovaries to mature many more follicles than you would so normally, causing your ovaries to increase significantly in size. High-intensity exercises can put you at risk for ovarian torsion and so care is needed as your cycle proceeds.
Exercise during IVF
You can continue to enjoy low-impact exercise options that do not involve inversions or twisting. Some people find bending at the waist uncomfortable due to tender abdomens. Always listen to your body. If something is uncomfortable, stop. Some good options during an IVF cycle include:
- Yoga (again, no inversions or twisting)
- Swimming (do not flip at the end if you are doing lengths)
- Low impact workouts (squats, etc. can still be done!)
We created our myMindBodyBaby IVF Fitness & Nutrition Guide to provide you with day-by-day guidance during an IVF cycle, including fresh and frozen transfers. The guides take into account the medications you are on and what is happening in your body. The guides come complete with instructions on how to adapt the exact schedule so that it matches your cycle, as timing usually varies from patient to patient. The guide delivers the workouts in an easy-to-use, motivating video format and provides a ton of different modifications. If you are a beginner exerciser – we’ve got you covered. If you’re a regular at the gym and want to ensure you keep moving, but safely, during IVF – we’ve got your back (and your abs, legs, arms – and your ovaries…!) too.
Supporting your mental health through IVF
Mental health is an important aspect of your self-care during IVF. We know you have a lot on your mind. IVF requires such a significant mental, emotional, physical, and financial investment. Many women say they feel like they have lost control of their lives. Of their timelines. Of their thoughts. The What Ifs and worries take root and it’s hard to stop your mind from spiraling into a dark place.
Taking back control
Knowing you are doing everything you can from a medical, physical, and nutritional perspective should help you to feel a little bit calmer and in control. But many people find they need more help. Meditation and positive visualizations can provide significant help and support during the rollercoaster that is an IVF cycle. In fact, research has shown that mindfulness practice can increase the success of IVF.
It’s good to experiment with different techniques to find one that serves you the best. Some options include:
- Quiet meditation
- Guided meditation
- Positive visualizations
Our IVF guide provides you with meditation and positive visualization support. On key days in the IVF cycle, you will be given specific positive visualizations or meditations to help you reign in your anxious mind.
Some people enjoy taking a few minutes each day to set a positive intention or focus on a positive mantra. You can try some of the following:
- I am strong and healthy and am doing everything I can to support this IVF cycle
- My body is healthy, my mind is strong and I am ready to support a healthy pregnancy
- My body can and will get pregnant
Others enjoy playing a soothing song and allowing their mind to clear of the What Ifs and nagging, anxious thoughts. Michelle and I enjoy Long Time Sun by Snatam Kaur.
We know this is a stressful time in your life. You didn’t expect to be here and you are looking for the tools and support to get you through this very trying time. We are here for you – to support you, to answer questions, and to cheer you on. If you need a little extra help send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. You are strong. You can do this. When you’re ready to take back a little control we’ve got a special code to get 15% off our the simplest IVF Support Guide out there – just use code IVFcontrol15. Click to get started!
And remember to download your FREE 1-week meal plan and at least start taking control of your nutrition in preparation and during IVF!