My top 10 tips for IVF – your IVF preparation checklistMay 24, 2021
IVF is not something we dream of. Injecting ourselves in the stomach with a needle is a far stretch from that romantic picture we had in our head of conceiving a baby and becoming a mother.
But for a lot of us, we head down that path. And it is SO daunting. The paperwork alone is enough to make you hyperventilate. And then you get told how much it’s going to cost!!!
Here are a few things I wish I had known when we were going down the path of IVF. It would have made our journey a lot easier.
My top 10 tips for how to prepare for IVF:
- Write down all the questions you’d like to ask your fertility specialist BEFORE you get to your appointment. When you’re in your appointment, your emotions will be high, which means that you’ll probably forget things. And there’s nothing worse than remembering a question you had AFTER you walk out the door.
- No question is a stupid question. ASK THEM ALL! I used to feel silly asking questions or getting clarification from my doctor, so I’d walk out of my fertility appointments feeling even more confused and lost. But the truth is, you’re not an expert in fertility, nor are you supposed to be. There are SO many acronyms and different terms in the IVF process, it’s impossible to know it all. You’re not expected to be the expert. If you can’t understand something, it may mean that your specialist isn’t explaining it well enough. A great way to ensure you’re understanding properly is to explain it back to them i.e. “So what you’re saying is….”
- Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call your specialist. Remember - you're paying them A LOT of money. This process involves a lot of waiting. Waiting on the correct protocol or IVF injection schedule. Waiting on the drugs to be issued. Waiting on the appointment times. Waiting on the results. It used to drive me crazy because, well, I’m not the most patient person. So, I would sit by the phone waiting for it to ring. The longer it took, the more pissed off and anxious I became. Then the stories in my head and speculation started – maybe no call means bad news? When I couldn’t wait any longer, I would call, and my question was resolved. As it usually turned out, they hadn’t called me earlier because they were busy. Save yourself some stress – if you’re waiting on something, take the initiative, pick up the phone and call them yourself.
- Don’t just rely on the IVF process. I naively went into IVF thinking that this was ALL I had to do. That IVF alone was my solution. I thought they’d pick out my eggs, and choose the best of my husband’s sperm, and create an embryo. What I now know is that IVF isn’t a fail-proof plan. It isn’t the only thing you should be doing. The laboratory that is creating your embryo can only work with what they have. In order to increase your chances of success even further, you need to provide healthy specimens. Your partner can do things to increase the quality of their sperm. And you can do things to increase the quality of your eggs.
- In most cases, Google is NOT your friend. And while I love a good support group, asking them about their symptoms, results and advice will probably not help you either. The only person who knows your challenges, the protocol you’re on, and the answer to your question…….is your fertility specialist. If you have a question, ask them (refer to point 2 & 3, and remember - that's why you're paying them). We tend to get so caught up on comparing our symptoms with others, it can lead us astray. Your IVF journey is unique to you. Stay in your own lane.
- IVF is not a sign of failure. I know it isn’t the way you pictured your path to pregnancy happening. On my honeymoon when my husband and I started trying to have a baby and fall pregnant, the picture in my head was NOT of me injecting myself in the stomach. Nor was it carry his sperm sample in my hand bag on the train to our fertility specialist, on my way to work (yep - true story!). None of us imagined this. And while it is disappointing (and very expensive), for some of us, IVF is the next step in the process. A place you get to where you’ve exhausted all other avenues, and would like to try something else. YOU are not a failure and there is no need to punish yourself.
- What can you delegate or STOP doing? The appointments and everything you have to DO through the IVF process can make you feel overwhelmed. If you thought your life was busy beforehand, you’ll wonder what you complained about before. IVF can be a full-time job! Between the forms to be filled out, the tests to be taken, the appointments, the scans and of course the injections and medication, you’ll feel like you’re chasing your tail. Now is NOT the time to take on more duties at work or prove to anyone that you’re superwoman. What are some things that you can STOP doing? Does the house really have to be spotless right now? What are some time-savers you can implement while you’re on your cycle? Can you order groceries online? Buy pre-prepared meals? Delegate some chores to your partner? Ask your mum for help?
- Build emotional resilience (preferably BEFORE you start). This journey is an emotional roller coaster. I don’t think anyone who has been down this path would disagree. Between the high levels of hormones running through your body, the extra things you have to do, and the money invested, you can find yourself hanging by a thread some days. It’s like a simmering pot of water just waiting to boil over. THIS is what I work with my clients to achieve – emotional resilience. It allows you to handle the bumps in the road with more ease. Building resilience can also be referred to as self-care. Things that you’re doing to re-energize yourself. It could be going for a walk in nature, yoga, reading an inspirational book, journaling, having a warm bath or a massage with essential oils. It doesn’t have to be monumental, but it definitely helps through this process.
- Keep your expectations of yourself reasonable. If you lose your shit at a work colleague or your partner, don’t punish yourself. IVF is hard. Infertility is hard. No one does it perfectly (even if it looks like they do on Instagram or Facebook). Forgive yourself and see these outbursts as a sign that you need to go back to point 8.
- Get the support you need. I wish I had asked for help on my IVF and fertility journey. But I thought it was a waste of time and money. I thought I could handle it by myself. What I have learned is that NOT processing our emotions has a physical affect on our reproduction. And considering studies have proven that mind-body programs can increase your fertility by more than 50%, it seems crazy that I didn’t look at this avenue. We spend hundreds of dollars on acupuncture and other fertility treatments, so why don’t we spend the same amount on looking after our emotions and how we FEEL? You don’t have to travel this path alone.
There you have it! Your IVF preparation checklist.
I know it seems daunting.....but you can do this!
If you’re just about to embark on your IVF journey and are feeling completely overwhelmed.
If you’ve done a few rounds of IVF and haven’t been getting the results you’re after.
If you want to make sure you’re doing EVERYTHING you can to make your next IVF cycle a success.
If this journey is taking a toll on your emotional health, your relationships and your life.
Don’t waste another minute (or dollar).
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