Hello my fellow 1 in 8! I bet you never thought you’d be here- I know I didn’t. We grow up thinking that getting pregnant is the easiest thing we’ll ever do. Thanks in part, to our high school health education- I seriously believed that if a sperm was anywhere near my vagina, I’d get pregnant accidentally- now I know how absurd that is. And, side note- why the heck did it take 2 doctors, 1 acupuncturist and a whole lot of online research for me to even begin to understand how you get pregnant? Isn’t that what we should’ve been learning?? But, I digress.
By the time you’ve got your life in order & feel responsible enough, like you’re finally ready for a baby, you realize it’s actually not that easy to get pregnant. And you’re not alone, even though it might feel like it sometimes. There’s a huge community of women speaking out and trying to change the stigma associated with infertility. But no matter how much support you have, you can still feel all the things- inadequacy, frustration, depression, anger, jealously, and the list goes on. So when you’re having a bad day, what can you do to feel better?
I’ve used my experience over the last 2 years- what did & didn’t work, and trust me I tried it ALL- and put together a list of the top 7 tips to help you deal with infertility. These suggestions are meant to lighten your step, release yourself from the pit you’ve put yourself in, and bring a little positivity to the journey.
7 Tips to Help You Deal with Infertility
TIP 1: Journal
Oh man, have I had some rough times on this infertility rollercoaster! From being told I might be in very early menopause to potentially needing a donor egg, the emotions are intense. Or experiencing contradicting statements from your medical team (mine was OBGYN vs. Reproductive Doctor), things can be confusing and down right frustrating.
I found that writing down my experiences in a journal helped me to not only remember the exact wording and directions, but also to process what just happened. And I didn’t always write immediately after an appointment, usually it was the night of, but writing it out in a private place gave me the ability to express anything I was feeling at the same time. Afterwards, I was able to move forward more easily, feeling like I had processed it and put it behind me.
Plus, I have this idea that it’ll be something to look back on once I have a baby (fingers crossed) & actually see the journey for what it was- and maybe even find some solace in it. Hindsight is always 20/20.
TIP 2: Meditate
This has been so important for me. I never believed in meditation or the metaphysical much. That is until I tried it. And let’s be honest, most of us on this journey are willing to try anything!
Meditation is like a breath of fresh air for your brain. If your brain is on overload, full to the brim with information and tasks, there’s not much room for processing. It’s like when your computer starts running really slow- you shut it down and give it a break. This is the same concept. Shut it down and give yourself a break, so that when you restart, you’re ready to handle anything life throws at you.
If you’re new to meditation, start small with 5-10 minutes a day (or as many days as you can- don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day, just start again the next). I recommend doing a guided meditation because it helps you learn to breathe and relax into it. Meditation is a skill- quieting the brain is a very difficult thing. We’re training & strengthening a muscle, and practice makes perfect.
It’s also a wonderful stress management tool. That’s why I like to meditate at the end of my day- to meditate the day away. It puts me in a much more agreeable mood while I’m making dinner and dealing with house chores. But, I know a lot of people like to start their day with meditation, so find a routine that works for you.
Here’s a couple fertility meditation recommendations: Belleruth Naparstek (or search iTunes, she has a bunch of other titles too), and Anji have some great guided imagery meditations and affirmations for fertility. I’ve been listening to these multiple times per week for the last year and I’m still not tired of them!
TIP 3: Express Gratitude
Gratitude and focusing on what we have versus what we don’t have, makes our life look and feel a lot more full. Practice expressing gratitude in your own way every day.
This can be taking a few minutes to think about all the things you’re thankful for, or writing them down in a gratitude journal. Personally, I prefer to write mine down each day. I’ve been doing this for the last year and it’s fun to look back at the full pages and realize how blessed I am.
Right before bed, I write down 10 things I’m grateful for that day ranging from big to small, career to personal, activities to accomplishments. Some people like to think about this as writing down “wins” for the day, which totally works too. It’s just for you, so do whatever makes you feel good.
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TIP 4: Healthy Body
Besides being good for your body and mind set, eating the right things can actually help your fertility. I’m not a dietician or medical professional, so please check with your doctor- and this topic could be it’s own entire post- but I’ve learned about the “fertility diet” and have been following it for the past year.
So, here’s a few things to keep in mind. Think gluten- bad, protein- good. If you’re familiar with the Paleo diet, this is your best guide. You want to eat mostly brightly colored veggies and animal proteins. Make sure you’re cooking with healthy fats, like ghee or coconut oil. Use olive oil for dressing salads, but not heating.
Consider eliminating dairy and cutting back on coffee. Definitely limit or eliminate alcohol. You want to be the best vessel for life you can be, so make sure you’re paying attention to what you’re putting in your body.
Cut out chemicals
I had no idea until my acupuncturist educated me on this, but all the beauty and household products we use are full of chemicals, some of which can be harmful. I downloaded this app- Think Dirty, and proceeded to check every product in my house. Long story short- I replaced almost everything I was using with a less chemically alternative. You don’t have to throw everything out, but before you replace products, you might want to check if there’s a better option. And this is something I’ll continue doing throughout my life, not just for fertility reasons.
Ok, there’s so much conflicting advice about how much exercise is too much and what types of exercise are ok. Just do what is right for your body. Know your limits. My doctor told me if I start to feel like I’m pushing myself, that’s probably too much and I should pull back, but if my body is used to certain types of workouts, they’re probably fine. But always check with your doctor, especially if you’re doing any medicated cycles.
Any type of movement is great for circulation and helps your mindset too. Even just a walk around your neighborhood is a good place to start. Or light yoga. Again, it’s what feels right for you.
TIP 5: Focus on Your Own Journey
Step away from the social media feeds- they’re doing more harm than good usually. When you’re trying to conceive, it seems like everyone else around you is pregnant or just had a baby. You can go mad comparing, envying and despising. It’s important to focus on your own journey and no one else’s.
You can even get caught up in other TTC journey’s and freak out about the possible things that could also happen to you. Stop. Just stop. Focus on your journey and know that it’s ok to be selfish right now. Your journey, your body, your partner and your future- that’s what’s important- the rest is just noise & it’s not helping.
TIP 6: Acupuncture
Not gonna lie, the idea of getting needles inserted all over my body once a week is not my idea of fun. I was hesitant to try this, but I have to say it’s been a really great experience. At first it was kind of weird and awkward, but now I actually look forward to it. She puts the needles in and then I listen to a guided meditation for about 45 mins. Sometimes I even fall asleep because I’m so relaxed. Afterwards, I feel refreshed and super zen.
She’s also given me an herbal regimen to help me get pregnant & even though I haven’t, I know a lot of her patients have success getting pregnant naturally just through the acupuncture treatments and herbal supplement combination. There’s a lot of herb recommendations on the internet, but you want to make sure you talk to your doctor before starting to take any vitamins or supplements. I trust my acupuncturist as a licensed Chinese medicine practitioner- so this is something to look for when you’re searching for an acupuncturist. I found mine through a friend and then looked at her yelp reviews, but yelp is a great place to start to find local acupuncturists.
TIP 7: Self Care
Take some “me time” to recharge and clear out your mind. Carve out some special time to do something you like that takes your mind off the day to day. This could be taking a nice soothing bath, or putting on some classical music and reading a book, or doing a face mask. It’s really about taking care of yourself on an emotional level so you balance out and become mentally ready to tackle the emotions you may feel later.
One Last Bonus Tip
Give yourself grace. Allow yourself some space to feel whatever it is you feel- everything is valid. Just know that you are not alone, and you have the tools, the strength and the perseverance to keep pushing forward on this journey. I’m sending you positive vibes for success- whatever that looks like for you. Let’s stick together sister.
I’m excited for you to test these out & see what works for you. Everyone has a different journey, so experiment and tweak it until you find a formula you like. Then, let me know how it went in the comments. If I can use my journey to help even one person, that’ll make me happy.
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