Your thoughts start running wild. You wonder ― is there something wrong with my body? Why are all my friends getting pregnant except me? The truth is, many couples don’t succeed in conceiving on their first attempt.
“In Singapore, most newlyweds want to have children within the first three years of marriage, but most are blissfully unaware of potential fertility issues,” she says. “This is especially significant, given the trend of people marrying later.”
Women experiencing infertility are found to have emotional stress levels similar to those experienced by cancer and cardiac rehabilitation patients.
Faessler-Moro adds that fertility issues can lead to a high level of stress. In fact, women experiencing infertility are found to have emotional stress levels similar to those experienced by cancer and cardiac rehabilitation patients, she observes.
So, keeping stress at bay during their TTC journey is essential for a couple’s emotional and mental well-being. Take the pressure off with these strategies:
1. Avoid fretting or self-diagnosis
“Try to limit anxious late-night Googling or getting carried away with self-diagnosis,” Faessler-Moro advises. “Endless online ‘research’ may only end up overwhelming and stressing you further. “
The Internet has tons of old wives’ tales on about how to increase one’s chances of conceiving. These range from stopping exercise entirely to needing to orgasm in order to conceive. You might suffer from an information overload if you believe them all, which could make your conceiving journey tougher than it already is.
Instead, try to separate your fears and concerns from the facts of a situation. Do this by getting the right information about infertility.
2. Get facts on fertility issues
One way to manage stress and anxiety is to be informed about common causes of infertility.
She elaborates, “A woman’s age is the most important factor for a successful pregnancy. Her fertility declines gradually from her early to mid-30s, more rapidly after 38 years and then steeply after the age of 40 as she faces diminishing egg reserves and egg quality.”
3. Consider getting external support
“They can offer guidance on different coping mechanisms such as hypnotherapy, visualisation, inner-child work or even couple’s therapy,” Faessler-Moro explains. “Whether infertility is a medical issue or the result of an unexplained emotional issue, therapy is also a powerful opportunity to work on personal development.”
4. Communicate with your spouse
When you try to conceive, it isn’t just about regular sexual intimacy with your other half. If you’ve both had to suffer a prolonged period of unsuccessful baby-making efforts, it’s important to voice your anxieties and frustrations.
“Even couples who usually communicate well can find it a challenge to keep up lines of communication when it comes to having a baby,” says Faessler-Moro. “Try not to make assumptions about how your partner feels, and release expectations about how they should feel as well.”
Couples should also be honest about how the TTC journey is affecting them emotionally. So if you are disappointed or upset by failures, tell your spouse how difficult this is for you, so that you can work through concerns together.
5. Understand that there will be ups and downs
Trying to conceive will be an emotional roller coaster with unforeseen issues such as a false positive, or even a chemical pregnancy. Identify the time of the month when it’s more stressful for you, so that you can make plans to lessen the pressure ahead of time.
Faessler-Moro suggests, “For example, if you know ahead of time that your period due date is usually preceded by a week of anxiety over whether you've conceived, prepare in advance and give yourself the support you need.“
“If you know ahead of time that your period due date is usually preceded by a week of anxiety over whether you've conceived, prepare in advance and give yourself the support you need.”
You might wish to keep a journal to pen your thoughts and feelings and remind yourself that the negative emotions will pass. Or get support from a therapist, people you trust and communicate openly with your spouse. You could also de-stress by exercising, organise a date night with your spouse or have dinner with friends.
“It can be tricky to know how to deal with family or friends, and hard not to compare yourself to other mums who struggled but eventually conceived,” says Faessler-Moro. “It’s important to remember that their journey isn’t your journey.”
She advises practising a few rehearsed responses to people who might ask personal questions. Also try to avoid situations or discussions that could lead to negative feelings about things that aren’t under your control.
It may also be helpful to share your situation with close friends and family, so that they will refrain from raising the topic of conceiving in conversations.
7. Accept that fertility is beyond your control
“Regarding control, nothing will teach you to accept and yield to things beyond your power than managing infertility,” Faessler-Moro points out.
This is the time to dig deep and draw on your inner strength. That might come from your faith, your family, or a deeper calm that comes from knowing that, sometimes, things happen that we can’t comprehend.
She also highlights that what works for one couple will not necessarily work for another. Mostly, do bear in mind that you shouldn’t be facing this journey alone. So, draw on others’ support during this period of uncertainty, especially since you can’t control whether or not you will conceive.
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