By Kate Brian, journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility
Before they start fertility treatment, people imagine that the medical aspects will be most challenging – the injections or the drugs or the regular visits to the clinic. In fact, what is generally hardest to handle is the emotional highs and lows of a treatment cycle, and in particular the two week wait after embryo transfer to find out if you are pregnant.
When you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to conceive for some time, the two week wait to find out whether your treatment has worked seems a very long fortnight. Your doctors will talk to you about the things they suggest you avoid during the two week wait, but it’s mostly down to common sense as there is little you are likely to do that will reduce your chances of success. You may find yourself worrying that your normal daily activities could have an impact on the outcome and feel you want to wrap yourself up in cotton wool or take to your bed, but you can rest assured that research shows that there is no benefit to bed rest after embryo transfer.
So what can you do to help yourself get through the two-week wait?
• One thing which will help you to feel better is to make sure that you eat a healthy, balanced diet during the two week wait, avoiding junk food. Knowing that you are nourishing your bod with all the vitamins and nutrients that it needs will be good for your wellbeing too.
• If you have told your friends and family you are having treatment, it can be helpful to limit the number of people who know exactly when you are starting and when you will be waiting to find out whether it has worked. Having others around you forever asking whether you have “any news” can be trying.
• Keeping busy is key to coping during the two week wait. For many people, being at work and leading as normal a life as possible is really helpful as it means that they have to focus on something else. Others prefer to take this time off work, but you should ensure that you have plenty to do if you are going to be at home – sitting around wondering whether or not treatment has worked can be more stressful than going to the office!
• Make sure you get some fresh air and exercise. You may not want to be running marathons, but a walk in the park or the countryside will help you to feel refreshed.
• If there are things that you know help you to relax, now is the time for them whether it’s meditation, manicures or watching funny films on TV.
• It’s easy to start obsessing about pregnancy symptoms during the two week wait, but remember that most women don’t have any signs of pregnancy, such as morning sickness, until later on. Not having any symptoms doesn’t mean that the treatment hasn’t worked.
• Try not to give in to the temptation to do home pregnancy tests half way through the two week wait. The tests are very accurate when used at the right time, but a positive result may not show up if you test too early.
• Be kind to yourself. Buy yourself the latest book or DVD, stock up on your favourite glossy magazines, go to the cinema or theatre, make time each day to practice the piano, sing or do some gardening – the things that bring pleasure are different for each of us, but filling any spare time with your favourite things will help you to a less stressful two week wait.
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.