Ways to Cope With the Challenges of IVF

To say that in vitro fertilization (IVF) is an emotional rollercoaster, is a bit of an understatement. You’ll be full of hormones, nerves are shot and there’s an abundance of waiting and trying to not put the rest of your life on hold when you’re desperate to move this part of your life forward. It’s grueling. It’s gut-wrenching. It’s all-consuming. It takes an incredible toll on people – physically, mentally, emotionally – and you can never truly be prepared for what’s to come. And that’s just the nature of the IVF process. But there are ways to survive the ups and downs of IVF. These are the things that, when it’s all said and done, you’ll look back and wish you would have done to survive it. Here are several ways to cope with the challenges that come with IVF.

Choose your IVF team carefully

There are major financial risks associated with IVF, and the time to think about them is before you’ve begun the process so that you can make a decision with a clear mind, rather than one that has just experienced massive disappointment. Look for profiles similar to your own and research the success rates of the clinic. When you visit with the team do you feel comfortable asking them questions? Do the team members make sure that you’ve adequately understood their answers? Learn as much as you can about the process so that you know what to expect at every stage.

Talk to people who have been there

The medical team can help you navigate the practical aspects of the process, but someone who has been through it can help you with the emotional side of IVF. If you can find someone who has been through it and is willing to answer your questions, you’ll feel a sense of relief at finding someone who “gets it.” If you can’t find an individual to speak with, there are also support groups you could join full of couples in the same boat as you are.

Find a mental health professional who specializes in fertility issues

Having a team of support is invaluable to wading through IVF, but you may consider adding to your team a professional therapist or counselor who specializes in fertility issues and mental health. It’s even better if that professional has been through IVF herself. Remember, it’s her sole purpose as your therapist to help you work through the mental challenges that come with your IVF journey.

Discover stress management techniques

Look for ways to reduce and release stress while building resilience as you go through IVF. Yoga, meditation, mind-body breathing techniques and healing massage are all excellent ways to maintain a positive outlook on the whole process. It also goes without saying that rest and taking care of your body are critical components of surviving the IVF journey. Give yourself permission to say yes to the things that build you up, create positive energy states and are rewarding. And don’t feel guilty about cutting out the things that do the opposite. Take a nap, a walk, a break or a short vacation. Taking care of yourself is one of the best things you can do to build patience and grace during an otherwise challenging time.

Have things to look forward to

The IVF journey is often a long one, with months of doctor’s appointments, medical procedures and shots. Consider adding fun trips to your calendar that give you and your partner something to look forward to. It doubles as much-needed time away, and could be a good respite if the treatment fails. Having something to look forward to, like a fun trip, a new pair of shoes or a fancy dinner during each stage of the process can keep your spirits up and your mind off the stresses that come with treatment.  

Keep a close circle of trusted support members

Be wary of who you talk to during the process, as having the wrong kind of energy or too many people checking on you can add unnecessary stress. You may unknowingly subject yourself to insensitive comments or constant questions if you don’t set the right kind of boundaries from the beginning. Be open and honest with your trusted circle about how much and when you’ll share details. And then ask them for what you need in return throughout the journey. Having ground rules means that YOU get the help that you need.

Take it one day at a time

The nature of IVF is that it’s a waiting game. There are many ways to cope with the challenges of IVF. You’ll have good days and bad days. There are ups and downs. You’ll desperately want to control the outcome and pray that it works. It’s so easy to be consumed with questions and the anxiety about whether you’re doing everything possible to get a positive result. The best (and only) thing you can do is take it one day at a time and focus on bringing the best energy you can to the whole journey. That’s all you can do. We’re rooting for you, mama.

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