The process of IVF takes an enormous toll not only on those who are receiving extensive hormone treatments and constantly going in for checkups, but also the partners standing by their loved ones’ sides during this emotionally draining fertility process. Self-care is essential during IVF, whether you’re the one undergoing treatments to assist in your fertility journey or you’re the one helping your partner through and alongside that journey. Sometimes self-care involves doing the hard things that nobody wants to do, but in doing so it strengthens one’s physical and mental health for the long road of parenthood ahead.
If you’re a self-care skeptic and choose to take the stoic route while traversing alongside your partner’s IVF journey, you might want to reconsider. First and foremost, the purpose of self-care is to manage stress which can lead to better performance in other aspects of life as a result. In other words, the better you take care of yourself, the better you can take care of others in return, which is essential if your partner is at such a crucial point in their fertility journey.
Additionally, taking time out of your day to be alone and care for solely your own needs can lead to some significant health benefits. The nearly instant alleviation of stress that comes with taking a break can help to lower cortisol levels, which is a hormone that impacts multiple areas of the body including the immune system, digestive system, and various areas of the brain. By taking a little bit of time to yourself each day to de-stress, your body is able to regulate cortisol levels which can lead to a healthier life over time.
So, before you write off self-care as selfish or unnecessary, consider the array of health benefits that follow the simple practice.
If you’re looking for a place to start with a self-care routine or you’re just looking to add some more de-stressing to your alone time, consider using one or more of the ideas listed below.
While this may seem like an obvious one, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet while undergoing the stress of IVF. It’s essential to prioritize eating balanced meals, with plenty of vegetables and protein, in order to be the best supporter for your partner. Maintaining a healthy diet not only acts as an outlet to unwind, but studies have also shown that consistent exercise can help to reduce oxidation and inflammation. Planning out your meals in advance and preparing meals for the week ahead can go a long way in correcting unhealthy diet habits, so try it out if you feel like you’re struggling to maintain a consistently healthy diet.
Exercise is an essential combatant to the stress that IVF brings upon couples, as it can flood your body with feel-good endorphins and relieves physical tension that builds up throughout the day. If you’re not in a workout flow and want to make a routine, start slow and try writing out your goals and plan on paper. If you’re already in a solid routine, try setting harder goals to push yourself to maintain your habits and gain fulfillment from your achievements.
IVF tends to involve spending a lot of one-on-one time with your partner, whether by going to appointments together, assisting your partner with hormone treatments, or discussing your fertility journey and options together. It can be extremely helpful to take a step back from your partner for a few hours and visit with friends and family occasionally. One way to implement this habit is to set aside a time each week designated for visiting family members or a group of friends to do things like going out to dinner or having a game night. This sort of routine can be a great way to set boundaries with your partner as well, as it provides a bit of independence to each person in a consistent way.
While you might be rolling your eyes over this suggestion, meditation can be a great technique to let go of stress from work, family, and fertility issues. Specifically, mindfulness meditation can help to clear the mind of any lingering thoughts, as the practice involves allowing thoughts to pass through the mind but not engaging with them. It’s super easy to start out small with this practice; by taking five or ten minutes a day and finding a quiet and comfortable space to meditate, you’ll be well on your way to finding your zen despite the stress of IVF.
Made of all types of folk, spa days can act as a special self-care treat for those looking to pamper themselves. Getting a massage, facial, manicure, or pedicure can go a long way in helping you feel rested and rejuvenated. Massage therapy can especially help with relieving muscle tension from built-up stress. A bonus to this method of self-care is that it can be done with a partner or a friend!
Each and every one of these practices can be done alone or with your partner, but the best self-care comes from exactly what it sounds like, one’s self. Choosing to use your time for yourself and take a step back from the stressors of life and your partner’s IVF experiences is never a selfish act. By doing so, you’re allowing yourself to recharge and prepare to conquer all of life’s challenges ahead. With consistent practice of self-care activities, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the best partner, parent, and person that you can possibly be.