How to take care of yourself between egg retrieval and transfer

If you are spending those two weeks on your dream vacation, those two weeks probably don’t feel anywhere near long enough.

If you are spending those two weeks waiting to see if your embryos will become to start of a long-awaited pregnancy, those two weeks may feel like an eternity.

If your fertility journey includes in vitro fertilization (IVF) then the one of the longest legs of the trip might just be the days or weeks between egg extraction and embryo transfer. Caring for yourself during the wait between egg retrieval and transfer is key.

Here’s a brief explanation: in the IVF process, a woman’s eggs are extracted from her ovaries using a very thin needle. The eggs are then fertilized with sperm and carefully monitored for a few days. Once embryos are ready, they are transferred into the mother’s uterus. There’s the option for a fresh or frozen embryo transfer, which your provider will discuss in detail with you.

It’s important to consider self-care and coping strategies throughout this season. Here are a few tips to guide you:

Don’t be a hero. You are going to need rest and recovery time following each procedure. Preparation for egg retrieval is can be intense and physically taxing. Plan to rest comfortably for a day or two afterwards. Some cramping and bloating is to be expected, and perhaps even some light spotting. You’ll also need to limit physical activity for up to three days after transfer. Let us know right away if you develop a fever, pain intensifies, or you develop bright red spotting or heavy bleeding.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst. It’s natural to want to share your news with others, but it might be wise to keep the circle small for now. Giving updates over and over again will likely increase your stress, and if all doesn’t go well, repeating bad news over and over again will likely be emotionally taxing.

Seek support. Connect with a trusted counselor or support group. It may be helpful for you to have a person with whom you can process a wide range of emotions, particularly if they have “been there” themselves and can listen with empathy. We’d be happy to connect you to local support groups.

Scale back and gear down. As tempting as it might be to distract yourself, now is not the time to say yes to new projects or take on other new challenges. If possible, plan time off work, especially on days you have procedures or immediately following. Don’t be afraid to take a day off for your mental health, too, when you need it. You wouldn’t hesitate to stay home if you were running a fever; take anxiety or depression just as seriously.

Escape. Enjoy dinner out. Take in a movie or play. Wander around a museum. Reread a favorite book or discover a new one. Indulge in a Netflix binge. Now is a great time to push pause and take a break from your usual routine.

Step away from social media. Now may not be the time to scroll through the highlight’s reels of others’ lives. Give yourself a break and instead consider meeting up with friends in person.

Take it slow. Keep moving but take it easy. Forgo intense workouts in favor of long walks or gentle yoga. You’ll get the endorphins and movement you need without taxing your body.

Be still. Now would be a good time to practice mindfulness, medication or prayer. The discipline of being present in this moment, and only this moment, will help keep your thoughts from running wild. If you need support, check out your app store for a host of free apps that can guide you through.

The bottom line? Be gentle with yourself in every way. If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call us.

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Jenny Shanks

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