Many people describe coping with infertility issues as one of the most stressful life experiences they’ve had to endure.
Understandably, few couples are prepared for the diagnosis and it is therefore very important to actively prioritise and engage in behaviour to take care of yourself to ensure your fertility journey doesn’t negatively impact on your mood, self-esteem, relationships, family, social life and work.
The power you have over your own emotional wellbeing should not be underestimated.
The better care you can take of yourself, the better able you are to cope during this challenging time.
Taking care of yourself means doing things that add to your sense of wellbeing and help relieve the stress associated with infertility.
Coping strategies that are helpful make you feel better and can make a difficult process more manageable.
Each person handles the stress of infertility difficulties differently. Some people find comfort writing their thoughts in a journal, while others choose yoga or other exercise as a stress reliever.
Another vital part of this process is to grieve the many losses that make up the infertility experience. You may be still processing the realisation that you are unable to conceive naturally, mourning a failed IVF cycle, miscarriage, or something as elusive as the dream of parenting, but it’s important to acknowledge each loss and to grieve in a way that is right for you. Remember, each person grieves differently and that’s okay.
Finally, don’t forget to have fun! Often people experiencing infertility deny themselves pleasures such as travel or a night out on the town. They spend so much time consumed with treatments and planning for the future that they ignore the importance of finding joy in the present.
Make time to focus on your relationship and strengthen your connection with each other
Talking openly, and remembering why you were attracted to each other before you started trying to get pregnant can help to keep your relationship strong and help to weather the stress together as a united unit. Many couples have said when they emerged from infertility treatment their relationship was actually stronger after having to deal with something stressful together.
Plan time together
Sometimes life can feel out of control when trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant. Scheduling dates where you both agree not to talk about medical appointments and infertility can help to refocus back on the two of you as a couple.
Respect each other and the way you each choose to cope
If one partner is quite emotional following an appointment or test result and the other isn’t, it doesn’t mean that both aren’t hurting. Try to understand that this may be his or her way of coping with the situation.
Bring intimacy back into your relationship
This means setting a goal that’s not just about falling pregnant. Months of timing intercourse can take their toll on both partners, and one thing people often express when they start infertility treatment is the relief at being able to hand over some of the stress and worry to a specialist and go back to having sex when you want to, not just when you should!
Focus on the things that you can control
This is related to good self-care. Eat well, exercise as recommended, and sleep well. Try to be as healthy as you can without being too rigid and hard on yourself.
Develop and regularly use a self-care plan
Fertility treatment can deplete all of your resources – physical and emotional. It’s important to actively care for yourself to try to restore your resources, enabling you to continue your journey. Self-care is different for everyone but could include activities in many areas of your life such as physical, emotional, social, creative, spiritual, and professional. Examples include various types of exercise, relaxation/mindfulness, time with friends/family, eating well, journalling, reading, and listening to or playing music.
Get active together
Exercise is a great way to help with stress and worry. Seeing infertility as a time to improve your diet, fitness and overall health can help to make the process a positive one.
Take a break if you need to
Sometimes it helps to take a month off, where you actively choose not to focus on getting pregnant and not to worry about dates.
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