Coping with Infertility and Fertility Treatments
Going through fertility treatments in Singapore can be a roller-coaster ride for any couple. You feel like your life is on hold, and despite the fact that so many things are outside your control, there are some useful tools you can use to help manage your mental well-being so that you can empower, enable and help yourself through this.
Tina Padia, a Fertility Coach in Singapore, shares her advice on how to cope with the challenges of battling infertility and fertility treatments:
Set a daily intention
"Energy Flows Where Intention Goes"
During the infertility journey, we often feel out of control, overwhelmed and become sensitive or reactive to what is happening around us.
The practice of setting a daily intention is a powerful tool to keep you aligned and focused throughout the day. It helps you pay attention to your thoughts, words, actions and behaviour with the intention in mind, and ensure that you are living the life that serves you well and helps calm any uncertainties associated with your fertility treatment, whether it is a miscarriage, IUI or IVF or any other treatment.
Daily intention setting is about taking back control of your emotions and thoughts and aligning your behaviour with the conscious positive intentions that you set yourself for the day.
Here are some simple guidelines on how to set yourself positive intentions for the day (Source : Rhonda Britten’s ‘Fearless Living’)
Don’t use words like ‘should’, ‘must’, ‘have to’ and ‘but’
Speak in the present, in the here and now
Be internally focused by responding rather than reacting to the external and everything that’s going on around you
Speak with conviction and commitment
State your intention in the positive - focusing on what you want to manifest, rather than what you are afraid of or want to avoid and ignore
When you set your intention for the day to align your mind and body to the intention, adjust your physiology if you need to, breathe deeply and straighten your posture and be natural.
At the end of each day, always reflect back on the intention that you set yourself and give yourself a score out of 10 on how well you feel like you maintained that intention throughout the day.
Start your intention setting today and take back control.
Here are a few examples of intentions that follow the guidelines above:
My intention today is to be calm and focussed
My intention today is to be kind to myself
My intention today is to be mindful and aware of my feelings and stay calm
My intention today is to give myself the space and time I deserve to be present
My intention for today is to be open and honest about how I am feeling and thinking
Write down your thoughts / mind dump
If we allow them to, our thoughts can and will control us. They will determine how our body’s react, how we respond and ultimately how we behave. Allowing our thoughts to spiral out of control into a negative space, will affect how we behave and we will find ourselves in a self-sabotaging space.
One way to try and take back that control and not let your thoughts dominate your day is to do a mind-dump - write everything down on a piece of paper or journal. A mind-dump will help all those emotions that are trapped inside your head to be written down so that they no longer occupy that space. The thoughts become something you observe as an observer so that they no longer become part of you.
Some people also like drawing out their thoughts.
Do what you feel works for you.
Do yoga, meditation or take a nature walk
During fertility treatment, our stress and anxiety levels can reach such high levels sending our bodies into ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ response mode. During this time it’s so important to try and find ways to keep yourselves calm and manage the anxiety. Meditation and yoga is a great way to help put you into a place and mental state of calmness, tranquility and stillness so that you can observe your breathing, thoughts and find a happy place to escape to.
We talk about Fertility Yoga in our section on Holistic Approach. There are useful home practices which you can do to help center yourself and increase blood flow into your reproductive system. I am not making any claims that fertility yoga will guarantee a couple will fall pregnant. Rather, it is a way of doing yoga that helps calm you and keep you focused.
You can also use self-affirmations daily to help keep you strong and guided. There are also many meditation apps you can use that have guided meditations and calming music. See a few examples below:
CALM which I use sometimes for nature sounds that calm me and help me sleep
Insight Timer which also includes 10 min for10 days fertility meditation courses
If you feel that neither yoga or meditation are for you, find something else that helps you to feel grounded, calm and in control. It could be reading, taking a walk in nature or listening to music.
Self nurture and self love
Self Care is so obvious but when we get caught up with the trauma of our fertility journey we often neglect ourselves.
Be kind to yourself. During this time, you can become too consumed with everything going on around you and the responsibilities you take on. It is therefore so important to take time out and give yourself time and the breathing space.
Say No. Saying No is an important aspect of self care. If you do not feel like making dinner, say no and order in. If you don’t feel like going to that dinner party you’ve been invited to, say no. If you want to sit around and watch Netflix do it and if you want to spend the entire day walking around in nature then do so. Remember that you don’t need permission from anyone but yourself.
Pamper yourself and your couple. Go to a massage together, watch a movie together, walk to the ice cream store and grab an ice cream, go for date night. Do what makes you and your spouse happy and feel special.
Regularly do what makes you feel happy. In the earlier part of my fertility journey, I couldn’t help but think about all the things that IVF took away from me, my love for life, my love for exercise and my love for socialising. I soon realised that there were still things I could do that I loved doing and made me happy. I enjoy cooking, socialising, hosting and travelling. Now the pandemic has forced all of us to stop travelling but there are so many things you can find that you enjoy doing that makes you feel alive and happy. Try to engage in these activities on a weekly basis so that you don’t lose who you are and lose yourself in this entire process. Happiness releases all those feel-good endorphins and your body into a naturally relaxed state, which helps and support the ongoing fertility treatment.
Give yourself the love, care and attention you need to get you through this time. Sometimes self care and self love isn’t easy during this turbulent time and things that can help are daily affirmations that you can write to help yourself. I often remind myself that this phase I am going through is temporary and I have lived a full and happy life before this and I will continue to live a full and happy life after all of this.
Read to learn more
Some of us find reading is a good escape from reality. I read many books during my fertility challenges, some were good escapes into a different world and others became useful resources that I tap into from time to time for information on my treatments. Check out our book reviews page for a list of books our team has found useful to understanding fertility challenges, and getting through IVF and learning different ways to cope.
Talk about it
Many women and couples find it really tough to talk about their infertility challenges and struggles. Some suffer in silence due to fear of being judged or just simply because you feel that people don’t and won’t understand you.
You don’t need to tell all your friends and family but if you can find a few select people that you trust and can confide in to talk to, it can really help you manage your emotions and build a strong support network around you. There are also online support groups on social media that are there to support you through this journey if you really don’t want to talk to anyone you know.
You may be pleasantly surprised at how supportive friends/family can be and your openness and willingness to talk about your struggles may encourage others to talk about their own challenges.
For my personal experience, I was quite open with people and met quite a few ladies within the IVF community. Regular lunch dates and coffee chats make the world of difference and helped me feel less alone and scared. There are so many of us out there willing to help and support.
Managing your mental health and well-being, I feel, is one of the most important things to invest in and take care of during your infertility journey. I personally had a fertility coach that helped me and my husband through some of our darkest moments. The couples’ sessions really helped us open up more and be really honest with ourselves and each other about how this journey has affected us and what emotions and feelings have been manifesting. We invest so much in our treatment itself and holistic care that most of the time we forget to invest in ourselves and our well being which will only be supportive of our overall treatment.
If you are looking for help and support, there are trained specialists based in Singapore that can help.
These specialists are trained and are experienced to help support you through your fertility challenges by working with you on ways to manage your feelings, emotions and behaviours. They can help you shift your state of mind from one of a negative and destructive one to one of optimism and hope, and to empower and enable you to take back control of your journey and yourself. You no longer have to feel alone, hopeless or helpless.
Here are a few specialists that are based in Singapore that you can contact:
Ralista Peeva, Counsellor and Coach