By Kate Brian, journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility
When a woman gets pregnant, one of her biggest worries is that something could go wrong. In the case of women who have been struggling with fertility problems for some time, these fears can be exacerbated. Will everything go as expected? Will I be able to deal with pregnancy? Will the baby be all right?
Some women who undergo assisted reproduction treatment are particularly concerned, partly because they may have have heard that the risks during pregnancy, such as having a miscarriage, are greater in women who have had in vitro fertilisation. Even though there may be some truth in this statement, there is no evidence to show that the risk of not carrying the pregnancy to full term has anything to do with the treatment itself.
The risks are partly due to the fact that women who’ve had fertility treatment know that they are pregnant from the very start, while women who get pregnant without help can sometimes have a miscarriage early in pregnancy without ever having realised that they were pregnant. Age plays a role too, as women who have fertility treatment are likely to be older and the risk of miscarriage increases with age. Finally, there’s the fact that certain fertility problems can themselves carry a risk.
If you’ve had a history of fertility problems, your fear of miscarriage may be heightened by the worry that you might not be able to get pregnant again should anything go wrong. Miscarriage is not uncommon, affecting around one in four or five pregnancies on average, but you are still far more likely to have a healthy baby than you are to have a miscarriage.
Try to lead a normal life
Sometimes women who’ve become pregnant after fertility treatment can feel an urge to wrap themselves up in cotton wool so that they don’t do anything which could put their pregnancy at risk. In fact, there is actually very little that you could do which would cause problems at this stage. We don’t always know why some pregnancies miscarry, but it is highly unlikely that it is down to anything a pregnant woman did or didn’t do. It is clear that there would be no advantage to taking to your bed for weeks at the start of your pregnancy unless there was some other medical reason to do this; it’s actually best to try to lead a normal life as far as you can.
The best advice, although it’s not always easy to follow, is to try not to dwell on your fears, or to let them dominate your pregnancy. It would be easy to spend your entire pregnancy worrying about miscarriage, but worrying is not going to stop you miscarrying if it is going to happen. What it can do, however, is mar what should be a really happy time in your life by making you miserable if you let it.
When you’ve spent so much time longing to be pregnant, it would be sad to let the joy of finally achieving your goal be dominated by anxiety. Think back to how much you wanted to be pregnant, to how amazing you imagined it would be to have a positive pregnancy test – and try to enjoy the fact that you have reached this stage.
Make as much time as you can for the things you enjoy in life, especially the things that you know help you to feel more relaxed whether that’s walks in the country or trips to the cinema. If you are leading a generally healthy lifestyle, if you are eating sensibly and avoiding smoking or drinking excessive quantities of alcohol, you are likely to be doing the very best that you can for your baby. Keep this at the forefront of your mind, and focus on doing all that you can to ensure you enjoy your long-awaited pregnancy.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.