After you’ve peed on a stick, the disappointment of looking at a BFN (big fat negative) can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve been waiting to start a family for some time.
“A negative pregnancy result is often a stressful outcome, with multiple failures leading to couples feeling helpless and eventually losing hope,” notes SmartParents expert Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness.
He adds, “The stress can also cause difficulties in sleep and appetite, as well as anxiety about having to try again and again. As stress increases, one may feel irritable, leading to relationship conflicts.”
Though staying positive is tough during this period of uncertainty, it’s absolutely essential to your marital relationship, as well as your mental and emotional well-being.
We suggest ways to cope with yet another negative pregnancy result.
“Most couples will receive a negative result first, and this is completely normal and expected. The chances of pregnancy each month is only around 30 per cent. But after one year of trying, the chances increase to around 80 to 85 per cent.”
1. Know that many couples are going through the same thing
Receiving a negative result is extremely frustrating ― no question about it. After all, we all know couples who conceive without even seeming to try at all.
However, Dr Liana Koe, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Thomson Medical Centre’s STO+G Practice, points out that the majority of couples don’t actually get pregnant within the first few months of trying.
“It’s important to realise that most couples will receive a negative result first, and this is completely normal and expected,” she says. “The chances of pregnancy each month is only around 30 per cent. But after one year of trying, the chances increase to around 80 to 85 per cent.”
Therefore, she advises not putting unnecessary pressure on yourself or your spouse. Rather, accept that waiting (and receiving a negative result) is part of the process of trying for a baby, and that many couples are in the same boat. So, keep your hopes up, and look forward to the next month and an increase in your chances of conceiving.
2. Focus on the positives, not the negative
Both Drs Koe and Lim also advise that you concentrate on the good things in your life.
Dr Koe says, “Trying for a baby is a good thing, and the process (not just the result) should be enjoyed. Focus on the good parts of the process, like spending quality time with your partner.”
He also cautions, “Being overly obsessive about getting pregnant increases the anxiety and will make it harder to conceive.”
Incidentally, the worst thing you can do when trying for a baby is to put your life on hold. So, commit several hours a day to simply enjoy each other’s company, like doing fun things that make you happy, such as taking a vacation or having a good meal at a restaurant.
3. Maintain a good support system
Throughout this period, don’t hesitate to lean on loved ones and friends for support. Continue to communicate with your spouse honestly and openly as you’ll need an avenue to voice your frustrations.
However, Dr Lim reminds couples not to blame each other or oneself for the failure to conceive. “Playing the blame game or feeling guilty is simply not useful and will make the situation even more tense,” he warns.
Do also confide in people who will be empathise with your struggle, like your closest friends, siblings, parents or even a therapist. Turning to a good support system can be a great source of encouragement, as you’ll know that you aren’t in this alone.
4. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
“Regular exercise improves both your health and your mood, releasing endorphins to reduce stress,” Dr Koe explains. “Committing to exercise and a healthy lifestyle together will not only increase your fertility potential, but give you something to focus on other than pregnancy.”
Dr Koe elaborates, “Excessive fat cells in our body (due to an unhealthy diet) affect the release of female hormones, causing problems with ovulation. Research has shown that for women with a high BMI (>30kg/m2), gradual weight loss to a healthy BMI can result in the return of normal ovulation and improve their pregnancy outcomes.”
Given how healthy living not only keeps your spirits up but increases your chances of conception, make it a daily priority.
Dealing with a negative pregnancy result is already bound to cause some pressure, so don’t add to it by aiming for that perfect “ovulation period”…pregnancy chances are highest a few days before ovulation, and decrease just after ovulation occurs.
5. Don’t stress over the timing
Dealing with a negative pregnancy result is already bound to cause some pressure, so don’t add to it by aiming for that perfect “ovulation period”. It has been shown that pregnancy chances are highest a few days before ovulation, and decrease just after ovulation occurs.
Dr Koe notes, “Counting the days and trying to predict your ovulation period can be stressful, and stress frequently causes our natural ovulation to occur before or even after the expected timing.”
As such, she recommends that couples have sexual intercourse two to three times a week (without calculating excessively) for the best chance of conceiving. Doing so is also best for sperm regeneration, which takes at least two days.
So, if you’re trying to conceive, simply prioritise having sex regularly. Aiming for a particular time of the month results in unnecessary anxiety as you might worry about how busy you and your spouse might be.
6. Accept failure as an outcome and consider alternatives
“Whilst persevering, also allow the possibility that pregnancy may sometimes be elusive,” says Dr Lim “Acceptance of the reality that it may not happen will decrease the anxiety associated with it, and help you to continue trying.”
“I usually recommend patients continue trying for at least a year before rushing into tests, as sometimes all it takes is time,” Dr Koe says. “But if a woman is aged 36 years and above, tests should be done after six months of trying, as fertility is shown to decrease with age.”
Dr Lim also stresses that marriage can wonderful even in the absence of kids. You can also consider adopting a child if parenthood is your goal, as this will be equally fulfilling, he notes.
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