It was getting on to 3 years of trying for a baby when we had our son Fox through IVF. During that time, we tried endless tricks to try and help us conceive. Eating pineapple core to aid implantation, using natural progesterone cream, hanging upside down after having sex, using a soft cup to keep those swimmers "up there", taking menopause aid pills because they were supposed to help something or other ...I don't think that any of these things actually helped. Well, obviously they didn't help as we still ended up doing IVF.
I can't give you the magic recipe to make a baby if you're experiencing fertility issues, but there are a few things I did in the lead up to IVF that I truly believed helped us make a baby.
1. Making blood healthy smoothies and juices. My womb lining was always very thin. I was never told that that was the reason why we couldn't conceive, but I knew its measurements on a number of months due to endless scans and from my own research knew it wasn't thick enough for an embryo to 'stick'.
The aim of the blood healthy smoothies was to creatre better quality blood flow that would help plump up the womb lining. I made one every day.
Fruit and veg to include in these smoothies were-
Beetroot, raspberries, pomegranate (you can add pure pomegranate juice rather than faff with thousands of seeds!), blackberries, think any dark fruit or veg. Chia seeds for omega 3 to help normalize blood lipids. Turmeric powder which helps protect cells from damage, reduces blood clotting and helps allow smoother blood flow.
2. Chinese Moxa sticks for womb warming. I held these over my womb and ovaries every night for a few minutes. Due this in the lead up to ovulation if you're trying naturally or up til the night before egg collection if doing IVF. Do not do it after this. I used the smokeless kind after making the mistake of getting the smoking ones and basically made the whole house smell like the inside of a bonfire! Some clincs don't believe in Chinese medicine and I am not a Doctor, so please look into this further yourself if you think you'd like to do it. I can only tell you what I feel helped for me after my own research.
3. Acupuncture. I found a truly amazing acupuncturist and went once a week for 4 months and twice a week in the month lead up to IVF. I also went the day before embryo transfer and straight after the embryo was put back into me. I remember I had to run for the train after transfer to get to my appointment on time and I was convinced the embryo would fall out! Among other things, the accupuncture got rid of my headaches and totally cured my sciatica which I'd suffered from for years!
4. More womb warming. Chinese medicine beleive your feet relate to your womb, so always keep them warm, especially during your IVF month and after embryo transfer. Keep your socks on, keep those feet toasty! I also used stick on to your clothes pain relief warming pads. Keep your lower back warm using these along with your belly. Put another t-shirt between your belly/womb and the heat pad t-shirt if it feels too hot on your belly. You're aiming for warm, not a roasting fire!
5. Visulisation and meditation. You can find specific IVF mediations online that help you in each stage of your treatment. After embryo transfer, I spoke to our embryo all the time. It was like having a little friend in my pocket to chat to! That helped me bond with it and keep my mind in a positive place. Even if it hadn't have worked, I knew that if I was as positive as I could possibly be, then I had given it my best shot and it totally wouldn't have been my fault if it didn't stick. I didn't want to carry round any guilt or regret regarding our IVF.
6. Yoga. I did yoga every day in the lead up to IVF. It helped clear my mind and keep me active in a calm way. I was a great thing to do after I'd just shoved countless needles into my belly (which are super fine by the way, you get used to them very quickly!)
Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is free and enjoyable. She's like having a friend in your living room. I can't recommend her highly enough.
8. No alcohol. Sorry! I didn't have a sip for a whole year. My husband even gave it up for 4 months to help his sperm quality too! But I don't think you need to go that far! 3 months is a sufficient time to get a really good, clean system. And if you had the odd g&t here and there, you'd probably be fine. We'll be doing an FET this year and I won't be drinking 3 months prior to that.
9. Relax. Man did I hate that word during our years trying to get me knocked up! I could have throttled the next person who told me to relax and "it will happen." But when you're in the thick of it and you've tried everything with no joy then you can't help but stress about it. It's all consuming. But knowing we had IVF coming up was like my hall pass to chill. Trying was taken out of my hands and I could sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. I was so calm on egg retreival day that my blood pressure was excellent and even with a temperature of 40 degrees I felt absolutely fine. I SHOULD have been really ill and the nurses couldn't believe it! Thankfully it came down, and I was good to have those golden eggs removed through.
10. Trust the process. I was told this by a good friend who herseld did IVF and was told the exact same thing by another friend who used the same mantra during her IVF. If you've kept your body and mind as healthy as you can, then thats all you can do. What will be will be. You've done your job and that's absolutely good enough. If it results in a baby then that is amazing. But if it doesn't, please don't blame yourself. You've done everything in your power to help things along and you should be so proud of yourself for that.
Personally I found IVF a really enjoyable time. I allowed me and my husband to have a special bonding time in the lead up to making our baby. During our fertility journey it was me 90% of the time who was running off for yet another test and even though we were in the 'unexplained infertility' box, I always felt it was because there was something wrong with me. This process gave us a bit more balance and my husband was able to get involved preparing the needles and injecting me. We made videos and took photos and I look back at that time with such fondness.
I'm so pleased we live in a world where IVF is possible and think it's a truly remarkable thing. I'm so utterly proud to be an IVF Mama and maybe one day it will allow us to have a second child. But I'm very, very grateful for my one baby and if he's our only child, I couldn't be happier with him.
All my tips are from me. As I mentioned, I'm not a Doctor, so please consult your GP if you'd like further assistance.
If you're struggling with fertility issues, my inbox is always open, so please feel free to message me.
Did you do IVF and have any fertility tips? Leave a comment below!