The value of self-care during fertility treatments.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio
Fertility treatment can be a uniquely stressful time — for your body and mind. It’s essential to have healthy ways to cope so that you feel your best and keep yourself in good physical shape during treatments.
Self-care is always important. You can prioritize your physical and mental health to show up as your best in your daily life. Particularly in stressful times, self-care can prime you to cope more effectively.
Here are some self-care tips to inspire you on your fertility journey.
Spend time outdoors
Getting outside can improve mental health and even sharpen your cognition. When you aren’t resting or at an appointment, try to pencil in some time with nature. There are various ways to enjoy the outdoors, such as:
- Taking a long walk;
- Taking your dog to a park;
- Finding an outdoor yoga class;
- Boating and fishing;
- Taking photos of nature.
Use your imagination, and invite friends or family along if it may be an arduous trip or just for the company. Try to hone in on what outdoor activity would enrich your soul the most and schedule it as part of your fertility self-care routine.
Many outdoor activities incorporate a bit of exercise. Regardless, you should incorporate some form of physical exercise into your fertility self-care. There are many benefits of being active while trying to conceive (TTC), including everything from improved cardiovascular health to newfound confidence.
Contrary to some beliefs, exercise isn’t detrimental to your reproductive health. Depending on your current physical activity level, you can start where you are comfortable. Don’t push yourself too hard, but try to find an exercise routine that you enjoy. Yoga, pilates, walking, running, hiking, and cycling are all great options to keep your weight down and strength and endurance up.
Eat and drink well
Physical activity typically works best in conjunction with a healthy diet. Limiting alcohol and caffeine intake, as well as grubbing on healthier, lower-fat foods can help you manage your weight, maintain your health, and feel your best. After all, taking care of yourself now will help you on the path to health during your pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Practice healthy sleep
Getting outside and exercising can help you feel tired when it’s time to go to bed every day. Especially when TTC, sleep is crucial.
Fertility and sleep are connected in several ways. Research has shown that sleep, sleep disturbance, and circadian dysrhythmia can all factor into the potential for infertility. Sleep is, of course, not the only reason for infertility, with the study citing lifestyle, disease, and environmental factors as other possible pathways. Sleep dysregulation can even be the result of infertility, which activates the HPA axis required for stress adaptation.
Improper sleep can also lead to the suppression of or changes in reproductive hormones. It can also cause inflammatory responses and an increase in melatonin, all linked to infertility. In essence, attempting to get proper sleep is beneficial all around when TTC.
Everyone needs adequate sleep, and adults should get seven or more hours per night. Don’t stress about getting enough sleep, or your efforts will be counterproductive. Incorporate a wind-down routine as part of your self-care habits to train your brain to want to go to sleep. This can include calming scents, relaxing baths, shutting off devices and lights, and reading a book.
Go to the spa
Calming scents are abundant at the spa. If you are an avid spa-goer or have never been, undergoing fertility treatments could give you a great reason to book a spa day or two. Acupuncture and massages are great ways to relieve tension in your body, making you feel rested and rejuvenated. Treating yourself will also give you confidence and help you destress in daily life while TTC.
Practice psychological self-care
Self-care involves taking good care of your body, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that your mind is a big part of that. Psychological self-care is just as important as physical self-care. Effective self-care should leave you feeling nourished, healthy, and grounded.
If you improve your mindset during fertility treatments, you can banish doubt and reframe how you think about TTC. This may even decrease your stress levels and increase your chances of successful conception.
Self-care is key to a healthy delivery, so starting these practices during fertility treatments can only help you get ahead of the game. If you’re having trouble finding inner peace, you can set aside some time to meditate and adjust your surroundings to help. Your mental and emotional health may fluctuate when TTC and meditation can help ground you. There are guided meditation routines, or you can come up with your own in a quiet space.
If you have friends or family that have gone through fertility treatments, it can be helpful to reach out to them during this time. Sharing your experiences can give you a sense of relief knowing that you’re not alone. It may also quell your anxieties about what to expect.
If you don’t know anyone personally who has gone through fertility treatments, you can look for local support groups or online forums. You can read blog articles about TTC or talk with others online to get their perspective. You can even write about your own experience to get it off of your chest and process things more clearly.
Self-care looks different for everyone. Don’t be afraid to ask for support and experiment with different practices to find what works best for you in this uniquely challenging yet beautiful time in your life