By Dr Parul Agrawal
When you experience fertility-related issues, the stress, anxiety and loneliness that accompany it can be difficult to manage. And once fertility treatments begin, those feelings can magnify. Going through hormonal injections, blood tests and scans can be physically demanding and mentally draining. This journey needs patience, generosity and a positive attitude. Whether you’re about to begin your fertility journey or are currently in the middle of a fertility cycle, self-care can provide a great way to cope with, what can be, an emotionally-draining experience.
The experience is different for everyone. Some sail through smoothly, some have rough patches in between; so it becomes important to get committed to self-care during an IVF treatment to make this baby-making journey a happy and fruitful one.
How to practise self-care during an IVF treatment?
* Trust your doctor. It is vital that you feel good about your doctor, feel connected to them, follow and trust their protocols and advice. You should feel yourself to be in safe hands. Most of the anxiety vanishes when the patient-doctor relationship is strong.
* IVF cycles must not be planned amid chaotic working patterns. Clear your calendar of anything non-essential during IVF cycle. This creates a space you need for appointments and relaxation.
* The course of treatment should be discussed in detail with the fertility specialist so that there is no anxiety of the unknown. Learn from your doctor which component of self-care would contribute to the highest success rate and what all factors contribute to its failure.
* Delete what depletes you. Purify your life by eliminating toxic things which drain you completely. Don’t take the burden of certain people, commitments, and relations which are not working for you and are negatively affecting your mental and physical health. Conserve your energy and focus on your goal.
* Be kind to yourself. There is nothing to feel guilty about not being able to bear a baby. Life has its own ways and positivity flows only when you feel positive about yourself. The first thing to remember is to be kind to yourself. A lot of times, people feel isolated and put a lot of pressure on themselves. Do not do that.
* Yoga is a life-transforming habit which not only makes you physically and emotionally stronger, but also elevates you spiritually. Starting yoga six weeks prior to IVF cycles can help the couple to overcome the anxiety of the treatment. People with infertility problems often report feeling better, stronger and more powerful and confident about their body after yoga practice. The well-toned up, flexible and strong muscles also help you go through your pregnancy and labour smoothly. There are certain asanas and pranayama which destress your mind and increase blood flow to the pelvis organs, helping overcome infertility.
* Practising meditation and other relaxation techniques can do wonders for you in this journey of parenthood. During stress, the cortisol and adrenaline levels increase. Practising meditation helps you to eliminate stress.
* Follow your leisure time activities to keep your mind relaxed. Listening to your favourite music, reading books, and gardening, watching movies, going for a walk with your partner, talking to your friends, etc., can make you feel cheerful. Laughing out loud with your friends is a big stress buster. Never forget to pamper yourself. A relaxing spa, manicure or pedicure at home can make you feel good. Pursue your hobbies such as painting, playing musical instruments, knitting etc. Completely immersing yourself in an activity that keeps you focused is beneficial.
* Better communication with your partner also helps. Togetherness can make things much easier, and the journey becomes smoother.
* When feeling stressed, one craves comfort food. But food with empty calories should be avoided. Diet should be more focused on green vegetables and fruits. Fertility food, as advised by your doctor, should be followed but that doesn’t mean you cannot indulge yourself occasionally.
* Proper sleep is important for restoration. It strengthens and invigorates you for another day. It is essential for physical and emotional stability.
Dealing with the outcome — whether success or failure — with great maturity and sanity is vital. Self-care provides you with strength. It improves the success rate, so take care of yourself and prepare for your bundle of joy.
(The writer is a senior fertility and IVF consultant at Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Noida)