Taking care of yourself, mind, body, and soul is always essential to a healthy life. This type of holistic self-care is never more important to your personal well being than when you are going through treatment for infertility.
It’s widely known that stressors of all kinds-emotional, physical, spiritual-take a toll on health. There’s a direct connection between stress and female reproduction. Trying unsuccessfully to conceive is a huge stressor. In fact, your body may perceive the stress you’re under as too dangerous for supporting a pregnancy.
It may not be enough to simply relax and get away from the day-to-day frenzy that often accompanies fertility treatment. In order to prevent stress and worry from taking control of your health and your body, it’s necessary to treat the entire person, mind, body and soul.
Caring for Your Body
Your body takes the brunt of your stress, whether its emotional stress, or your infertility has left you feeling spiritually adrift. That’s why it’s important to keep your immune system strong and your physical wellness front and center on this journey. Taking care to make your own physical health a priority will help provide a positive experience for you and your future baby. Here are some of the ways to keep your body nurtured during fertility treatment.
Diet: A diet rich in whole foods, organics, plants, and whole grains, along with plenty of water, is really key to remaining healthy. Certain supplements are necessary especially if you haven’t always been maintaining the most nutritional diet. Supplements help guarantee you’re getting enough of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals essential to your physical wellbeing.
Sleep: Often the first thing that suffers when we’re even the least bit stressed is sleep. If you don’t get the optimum 7-9 hours of restorative sleep your body needs to function, even for just a night or two, you’re irritable, you lack motivation, you don’t feel like socializing, and you aren’t able to focus. After more than a few nights of missed sleep you may begin to gain weight (in many people, the need for sleep is often mistaken for hunger, and your body tends to crave those high-calorie comfort foods when you’re exhausted), and the longer you go without proper, restful sleep the more your immune system suffers leaving you susceptible to colds, the flu, and even chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Get your zzzz’s.
Exercise: Exercise is vital when it comes to your overall physical and emotional health. It’s a great way to unwind, burn calories, get your blood pumping, and exercise is a great stress-buster. And you will sleep better. Talk to your physician about the right ways to exercise while going through fertility treatment. Brisk walking, gentle yoga, biking, and easy swimming are some wonderful ways to get moving.
Relax Your Mind
Clearing your mental space of the negative clutter and toxic thinking isn’t just a way to feel better emotionally, it sends a signal to your body that it’s a good time to conceive. Emotional stress can manifest in so many physical ways, from hair loss to weight gain or loss, to decreased libido (sex drive). Simply trying to conceive and the frustrations that accompany infertility can really take a toll on your emotions.
While it’s not very realistic to expect a stress-free mind all the time, especially while undergoing fertility treatment, you should make every attempt to get ahead of the stress before it gets to be too much. Find a support group. Talk to your physician about your concerns and learn to practice some tried and true techniques for dealing with this emotional roller-coaster ride.
Does Your Soul Need a Tune-Up?
Your soul probably needs some self-care right now. You’ve been through a lot just getting to this point. Prayer and spirituality have long had a calming effect on those who subscribe to such a practice. For those who truly believe, prayer and connection to a deity often help ease the loneliness and hopelessness associated with infertility. If you have a regular place of worship consider talking to a member of your clergy for some additional support.
Not into organized religion? Try a morning meditation practice. Get out in nature and appreciate the world around you. Although now may not be right for a huge time commitment, consider volunteering to serve your community in some way. Anything that brings you a sense of hope and purpose will help to soothe your soul.
Be Your Own Advocate
You are central to this journey through fertility treatment. No one else can do this for you. Your loving partner means well and is likely dealing with similar stress, it’s not the same. Unfortunately you carry the burden of stress and worry in your body, and that can be counterproductive to a happy, healthy pregnancy. Now is the time to make yourself priority one.