Going through fertility treatment, you may wonder about the best path to self-care during IVF, especially as embryo transfer day approaches. You may be worried about what effect your actions can have on the process, and you want to make sure you do everything in your power to ensure success. The good news is that caring for yourself before and after your embryo transfer procedure isn’t complicated.
Here are ten simple tips for taking care of yourself during this exciting time.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet and Stay Hydrated
If you already eat wholesome meals, keep it up. Now is the time to cut down on sweets, reduce alcohol, and add more fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. There’s no “embryo transfer diet” to follow, but eating as if you’re already pregnant is a good idea. Drinking fluids is also crucial since proper hydration is essential to optimal cell functioning. You want your body to be in optimal condition.
2. Take a Prenatal Vitamin (and Make Sure You Get Enough Folic Acid)
Now is a good time to start taking a prenatal vitamin — following your doctor’s instructions. If you’re taking an over-the-counter prenatal rather than a prescription brand, ensure that it includes DHA omega 3, vitamin D, calcium, and folic acid. While most prenatal vitamins contain adequate amounts of folic acid, your doctor may recommend an additional supplement. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in your baby and may also reduce the risk of heart defects.
3. Avoid Chemical Exposure from Everyday Sources
Modern life is full of products containing endocrine-disrupting chemicals or EDCs. These chemicals may interfere with your hormones, and some can cross the placenta and build up in your unborn baby’s bloodstream, causing developmental issues. Become a label reader and avoid products that contain the following:
- Bisphenol A (BPA, common in plastics)
- Parabens (common in cleaning and personal care products such as shampoo)
- Triclosan (found in anti-bacterial products).
Avoid EDCs both before and after embryo transfer or, better yet, cut them out of your life entirely.
4. Take it Easy on Transfer Day and Immediately After
While there’s certainly no need for bed rest (the embryo isn’t going to fall out, after all), relaxing and pampering yourself on embryo transfer day and for a couple of days after is a good idea. This is as much for psychological and emotional reasons as for physical ones; post-transfer days can be an emotional rollercoaster, and rest, relaxation, and pampering can go a long way toward reducing stress.
5. Relax — but Not in the Hot Tub
While pampering yourself in the days after an embryo transfer can be good for your mental and physical health, avoid the sauna or jacuzzi, and pass on a long soak in a hot bath for a few days. Some research suggests that activities that elevate your core temperature might interfere with implantation. Just to be safe, stick to showers or warm baths rather than turning up the heat.
6. Keep Taking Your Medications
Unless your doctor advises you differently, continue taking your prescribed medication. Progesterone is vital as it helps the embryo implant and ensures it stays implanted. Don’t stop any medicines unless your doctor recommends a break.
7. Abstain from Sex Until Your Doctor Okays It
If your doctor has suggested that you refrain from sexual intercourse for a short time after the embryo is transferred, you may wonder why. The answer? Sex can cause uterine contractions. This can affect the embryo’s ability to implant and, in a worst-case scenario, could theoretically lead to a miscarriage. Most experts agree that abstaining from sex for 10 to 14 days is sufficient.
8. Pay Attention to Your Body
You know your body best, so pay close attention to what it’s telling you. If anything feels wrong or “off,” inform your doctor immediately. There’s probably nothing to be concerned about, but a quick consultation can relieve your mind.
If you’ve been taking fertility drugs, keep your eye out for the following symptoms:
- Sudden weight gain
- Abdominal pain
These can be symptoms of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or OHSS, and it’s important to let your doctor know immediately.
9. Don’t Rush Out and Buy a Pregnancy Test
Taking a pregnancy test too early isn’t a good idea, no matter how tempting it may be. Pregnancy tests measure the amount of pregnancy hormone in your urine, and it takes some time for this hormone to build up to measurable levels. You might get a false-negative or even a false-positive result if you take a test too soon. So, settle in with a stack of good books, binge-watch Netflix, or find another way to pass the time until your scheduled pregnancy test with your fertility doctor.
10. Use Stress-Reduction Tools to Make the Wait Easier
Finally, do what you can to de-stress while you’re waiting. This is a good time to sign up for meditation, a beginner’s yoga class, or embark on a stress-reduction course.
The time before and after your embryo transfer can be a template for how you plan to advance during your pregnancy. Forming good habits now and learning to care for yourself with compassion can create a firm foundation to build on in the future. If you’re just starting your fertility journey, if you have questions, or if you simply want to learn more, we can help.
Contact Reproductive Gynecology and Infertility today and speak to one of our fertility experts.