Erin Butzer, Whole30 Coach who shares her story of infertility, treatments, and her health journey as well as 6 ways you can prepare for an IVF transfer. These tips to apply to anyone going through the trying to conceive journey.
I am a wife and mom to three miracle babies: a 6-year-old son and almost 4-year-old twins (boy/girl). I am also a special education teacher, Whole30 Certified Coach and PCOS warrior. After the birth of my first son, following 12 IUIs and 2 fresh IVF cycles, I found Whole30.
I struggled to breastfeed, as many women with hormonal issues do. I hoped to improve my milk production with this whole food approach. My experience ended up being about so much more than milk production. It began a shift in the way I thought about myself and the foods I was providing for my family. In March of 2015, we were facing our 5th and final round of IVF in hopes of giving our son a sibling. I once again returned to the Whole30 because I knew it would provide me with the mental clarity, stabilized moods, and a decreased state of inflammation that would make me as prepared as possible to go through this final treatment. Since then, I having been navigating my (sometimes messy) Food Freedom with more balanced hormones and the mental clarity and sustained energy it takes to keep up with three very busy children!
The world of infertility is full of diagnoses, procedures, hope, and loss. The ups and downs take a toll on women, their partners, and daily life. In a club that I had never wished to belong to, I found incredible support and friendships that will last a lifetime. Here, I will share with you my six tips to prepare for an IVF transfer.
Find Your Support System
Finding your support system is crucial to your mental well-being during the infertility journey. Due to the stressful nature of this process including the appointments, medications, and side effects, it is important to have more than your partner to support you. It may be difficult for your friends or family to understand exactly what you are going through, and this may be very frustrating. Try to understand that they probably have good intentions, but they may not have the experience to know just exactly what you are experiencing.
Seek out friends of friends who have been through or are on this journey. Search for local fertility groups or ask your doctor’s office how to connect with a local group or even one other patient. Many times, nurses can help make this connection for you! Having just one person to celebrate joy and lean on during heartache can make a world of difference.
Eat Nourishing Food
Feed yourself with love, not punishment. It is difficult to understand why you are having to struggle with something that comes so easily to other people. This is normal. One way to show yourself love and to prepare your body for transfer is to consume nutrient-dense, whole foods that lower inflammation. Whole30 is a great way to nourish yourself with nutrient dense foods. Your doctor or nutritionist can provide you with more specific information on the proper nutrients you may be lacking and need to add into your diet during this time.
Practice Intuitive Movement
Moving your body in a way that feels good to you is important to maintaining your physical and mental health during your IVF journey. Personally, I found it important to stay connected with my body leading up to transfer because it gave me a sense of control at an otherwise chaotic time. Low impact exercises like swimming, walking, or stretching/yoga can provide stress relief. This was one of my favorite times to listen to motivational TED Talks, podcasts, or audiobooks. Remember to always follow your doctor’s recommendations for exercise.
Engage in Self Care
Self-care is a buzz word, however, you are hearing it for a reason–because it is so important! When your life is consumed with appointments, shots, medications, and what ifs, it is difficult to remember who you were before all of this started. What makes you feel calm? What brings you joy? Make time each day to engage in one of those activities.
For example, after your egg retrieval, take a long bath to help your body relax and begin to heal. Schedule a pedicure before your transfer. You might like to have lunch with your best friend or date nights with your partner throughout the process. Say no to stressful situations if you can, whether social or professional. Doing any one or all of these things will go a long way in helping you maintain a healthy mental state leading up to transfer.
Establishing boundaries during the week leading up to transfer, or at any point during your infertility journey, is extremely important. There is no right or wrong answer here, but consider the following questions. How much are you willing to share with your friends and family? Are you and your partner private people? Do you feel supported when you tell people what you are going through?
Post egg retrieval, think about these questions: Do you like to have your mind occupied? Maybe maintaining your busy work schedule is best for you. Do you need to have quiet time to process your feelings? Maybe keeping your social obligations for the week at a minimum is best for you. No matter your personality type, prioritize your sleep. Establishing a nightly routine and bedtime will help your body rest, repair, and prepare for transfer and what it to come post-transfer.
Having and maintaining a positive mindset can be one of the most challenging things about infertility. The fear of the unknown is real. Again, this is normal, and it is also important to find ways to stay as calm and positive as possible. There are a variety of ways you can actively work on mindset. Visualizations and meditations are helpful. Guided meditations can be found by searching online or using an app on your phone, like Insight Timer.
Using positive affirmations that appeal to you and make you feel strong and powerful are also hugely beneficial. Reaching out to a trained professional like a therapist to discuss your worries can also help you push through mental blocks and improve your mindset. It is worth exploring options because mindset can have a huge impact on your overall health and happiness along this journey.
If you are on your own infertility journey, please know you are not alone. Find support through our Whole Mamas Pregnancy Program community. If you have specific rituals or other ways that you prepare and focus during an IVF cycle, we’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation on Facebook or Instagram.
Erin is a wife, mother to 3 young children, and a special education teacher in Western New York State. She found the Whole30 in 2013 while dealing with food addiction, symptoms of PCOS, and battling infertility. Erin continues to use the tools of the program to navigate her Food Freedom and her experience has inspired her to share her journey with others as a certified coach. Connect with Erin on Instagram or through her website: erinswholejourney.com.