For many Americans, COVID-19 has completely destabilized daily life and disrupted the support systems we rely on to maintain our health and well-being. Today, the challenges of caring for loved ones have become even more complex. People are being spread too thin as they juggle the responsibilities of caring for elders and young children while also doing full-time work.
Fertility Fit Kit: My IVF Self-Care Toolkit
I’ve not yet come across any of my patients who have said “IVF was great and it was so easy!” Most of the time I hear “IVF is so much harder than I thought it would be…” So as I enter this process, I’ve got a few important tools that I’ll need to support me along this journey.
They won’t make IVF painless but they will help me to find more ease, relaxation, courage, and resilience physically, mentally, and emotionally so I can better navigate through it.
Eat Well and Drink Well I’m doing my best to get in a variety of whole foods a day. I’ve eliminated caffeine and minimized my sugar, dairy, and soy. Because I’m feeling more dehydrated, fatigued, and constipated with the medication I’m taking, I’m paying special attention to increase my water intake.
Sleep I’ve always been a very light sleeper so it’s even more important that I make an effort to sleep well during IVF. To help me, I have a nightly ritual: kava or valerian tea to help both muscles and nervous system relax, shower or lavender epsom salt bath to further induce circulation and relaxation, almond oil and lavender oil foot massage, stretch in the living room to unwind the body, meditation to clear the mind, ringing of Tibetan singing bowl to finish the day, dim the lights, cuddle with husband, sound machine on and lights off.
Stay in Partnership with my Husband IVF can be extremely tasking on your relationship. To keep us strong and connected, we take time every night to eat together, meditate together, talk, cuddle, and sometimes perform a living room dance together. Before beginning treatment, I also let him know that there’d be plenty of moments that I’d feel very fragile and emotional during the journey and that I’d really need his support.
A year ago when we got married, we also created an affirmation together as a couple. Although not a daily ritual, we’ll repeat our affirmation together out loud before we go to bed. It’s simply made up of a series of statements and requests of what we desire, envision, and strive for in partnership together.
Yoga and Qigong practice These two practices uplift and align my body, my mind, and my spirit. They also help with more subtle things like strengthening the immune system, relaxing the nervous system, balancing out the hormones, and aiding digestion and circulation.
When I don’t practice regularly, I notice right away how cranky I get. If I can’t get to a class, I’ll do my own personal practice.
Meditation Almost every night, I meditate for 10 minutes. It’s a great way to help me find being in the “present moment” when I can focus my mind on just breathing in and out. During IVF, the mind drives you nuts with the endless questions of “what if this? what if that?” This practice helps me to create a discipline to accept what is just in front of me right now and to not project my fears into the future. Believe me, it’s not easy! My mind is so messy…
Acupuncture I’ve noticed it extremely helpful to receive weekly sessions to help curb the fatigue and anxiety. Additionally, if you work with an acupuncturist that specializes in fertility, they can align their treatments according to where you are and what your needs are before and during your IVF cycle.
Sensory Deprivation Tank This has been a great way to completely decompress. You literally float in a tank full of dense salt water with no light, sound, or technology. Not only is it a great way to relax the mind, get away from any distractions, it’s a wonderful way to heal the body. However, I’ll need to give it up once I begin any sort of vaginal capsules during treatment.
Sunday Nature Walks There’s nothing better to get out of my own crazy mind then to commune in nature. Every Sunday, my husband and I go for a long walk wherever we can feel the ocean breeze.