When starting to plan a family, most people don’t consider that infertility will bean issue.
We often think it’s going to be an easy process. I mean most of us have spent our lives thus far avoiding getting pregnant, how hard can it be?
Starting a family can be more of a challenge for some couples since infertility has more that doubled since the 1980’s. According to Stats Canada “Roughly 16% (or 1 in 6) couples in Canada experience infertility”.
Advancements in fertility care have made it possible for more couples to overcome infertility. We often don’t honour the emotional impact of all the medical interventions, hormone therapies and the ups and downs of waiting for a positive pregnancy. The stress of treatment and potential for disappointment can impact our self-esteem and potentially even strain our relationships.
Speaking from experience, a lot of women can hold the shame and heartache inside along the journey. It can be a struggle to be happy for friends who get pregnant easily and often forget that fertility issues carry similar symptoms to those associated with grief and loss. It’s also a tough cycle. Stress can impact our ability to get pregnant, but infertility stresses you out!
It’s important that you take care of yourself during this emotional rollercoaster.
Here are some fundamental self-care things to consider if you are struggling to get pregnant:
Establish and Maintain Strong Social Supports
Going through any struggle alone can amplify feelings of shame, emptiness and stress. It’s recommended that you find social support that work for you, whether it’s online support groups such as the Infertility Support Group Network or seeking out local support in your community. Often meeting with women and couples experiencing fertility challenges can be a normalizing experience that may validate the feelings and thoughts you’ve been having.
Going through this experience alone is not recommended. Whether it’s talking to friends and families or a support group, normalizing your experience can ease stress and feelings of shame and guilt.
Seek out Counselling and Psychotherapy Support
You may not be comfortable sharing the intimate details of your fertility experience and how you’re feeling with friends or family. Counselling provides a safe, non-judgemental and confidential space to discuss your experience. Counselling can help you process the feelings you are experience, provide relief if you’re suffering from mild to moderate depression, and explore strategies to challenge the distorted or negative thinking. Counselling can also help increase coping strategies and help with making decisions regarding your fertility.
Practice Daily Relaxation
Considering fertility challenges can cause substantial stress, it is recommended that you build your stress management tool kit. A study completed in 2010 by the National Institute of Health determined that women experiencing higher levels of stress were less likely to conceive.
Maybe people have told you “just relax and it will happen”. Just hearing that can stress you out! However, practicing daily stress management and monitoring your stress levels is essential. Activities like mild to moderate exercise, spending time with close friends, enjoying a relaxing bath, journaling your thoughts and feelings, or taking 30 minutes to read a book, can all help manage stress. Also, keep in mind proper sleep patterns and eating habits. Consider speaking to a Counsellor or Psychotherapist if you’re struggling with stress management.
Mindfulness has proven to be very effective with managing anxiety and depressive symptoms. It is recommended that you consider incorporating daily mindfulness into your routine. A big part of mindfulness is taking a non-judgmental and radical acceptance stance when faced with a problem. Mindfulness empowers people to accept their painful emotions, rather than engaging or reacting to them. All in all, mindfulness can help people gain a better perspective on negative or challenging thinking patterns.
A Counsellor or Psychotherapist can introduce you to mindfulness, or you can also check out some great apps available on your smartphone. I’d recommend Headspace or Calm- a guided meditation exercise is always readily available your phone. You can set a reminder to do a practice, or use it when needed.
Keep your partner in the loop
Fertility issues can take a toll on your relationship, whether it’s one partner unsure of what to say or do, or the other partner not saying anything at all. It’s crucial that you have an open dialogue with your partner about how you’re feeling and what you need. Don’t leave them in the dark assuming things are fine. Be open and honest, and you may actually find the experience brings you closer together.
Don’t blame yourself
It’s easy to blame ourselves for our fertility challenges. You may be struggling with thoughts like, “I should have started trying sooner”, “why did I stay on the pill for so long?” and “I’m being punished for terminating a previous pregnancy”. People often get caught in this cycle of negative thinking which will amplify feelings of sadness, guilt and shame.
When you find yourself thinking about the past or the “should ofs” and “could ofs “, it’s important to remind yourself that your fertility challenges aren’t your fault and the past can’t be undone. Rather harness that energy towards focusing on the present and taking care of your mind and body now.
Whatever you choose to do, it’s important that you take care of yourself and don’t go through this experience alone. If interested in seeking out professional support book an appointment with our resident therapist. Psychotherapy and Counselling services are available at Bronte Wellness Boutique.