||Repromed Counsellor, Helen Nicholson, has spent over 10 years counselling clients going through fertility treatment. She offers her top 5 tips for preparing emotionally for IVF.
1. YOUR SAFETY NET
It’s important to think about who your support network is and who you want to talk to when you begin IVF. Talking to a small and select group of people you trust, who you know are good support for you, will be really beneficial in helping you on this journey. It’s okay to be selective – it could just be one person who has a tried and true record for supporting and not judging you. And tell your partner (if applicable) who you have told about your personal journey, and what, so neither of you get a surprise at a social or family event. You don't need to tell your support network everything - just provide them with the information you want to share.
2. DOWNSIZE YOUR LIFE
IVF can be tough, physically and emotionally. To give it your best shot we recommend that you seriously review all your current commitments to do with work, family, faith, sports, lifestyle and consider any areas where you can down-size, delegate or step-back from over the course of treatment.
Don’t underestimate the amount of time IVF takes. You will need to find extra time for clinic appointments, visits to Labtests for regular blood tests, regular scans, egg collection, checkups. And you should include time for emotional recovery and reflection. Scheduled times to quieten your mind and re-group so that your emotional storage tank can refill in between appointments and treatments. If you can head into your treatment doing less, you can see how you are coping and you always have the option of adding things back in if you feel like you can cope with it. This will be easier to navigate rather than trying to negotiate out of commitments mid-way through treatment.
3. CONNECT AND REFLECT
Going through IVF can be emotionally draining, so before you begin treatment, plan to spend time doing things that you enjoy that are not fertility focused. That doesn’t mean avoid anything to do with fertility. It’s an ideal time to begin talking openly and honestly about your hopes, expectations and fears about treatment before it begins with your partner or support person.
For couples, be prepared that you may feel and experience things differently to each other throughout the treatment. Allow yourselves to acknowledge this and to intentionally respect each other’s differences - and don’t allow these to get in the way of supportive communication. Good communication is a skill and can take time to develop. If you are concerned about how you communicate with each other, consider getting some outside help to address these before stepping into a treatment process which can be challenging and stressful. You will both be going through the process, so it’s great if you can take a ‘team’ approach through the treatment. Commit to supporting each other by attending appointments together, planning on where you will be when getting results and also supporting each other’s self-care. Self-care includes eating well, getting rest, doing exercise and having fun to destress.
4. ASK THE EXPERTS
Your fertility team at Repromed are there for you. Ask them any questions and raise any worries or concerns that you have - they are there to support you. Everyone’s situation is unique and individual, so ask your fertility specialist about the topics which are relevant to you and your treatment. And avoid spending too much time on Doctor Google as sometimes too much information can create confusion and overwhelm (and it’s not always accurate or helpful).
5. REVIEW YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA USE
Being careful online applies to other forms of social media too. Online support groups and forums can be great places to connect with other people in similar situations as you, and can provide a great community to get support from. But if you begin to feel worse about your situation, or are feeling down about the stories and contacts you are having then review your online involvement and consider having a break from it to stay focused on yourself. Connecting face to face and heart to heart with someone who cares about you can be much more rewarding.
We are here to support you. All IVF treatment at Repromed includes a counselling session and all clinics (Auckland, Tauranga and Whangarei) have counsellors who are available for you. We are qualified, experienced and passionate about helping you make sense of your feelings and the fertility information you receive. Your time with us is a safe place that you can download and destress and have help with the decisions you are making.
Repromed provide fertility excellence with heart – personalised for your individual situation and values. You can talk to our experienced counsellors before, during and after you embark on your IVF journey. For more information visit www.repromed.co.nz
- Helen has been providing social work and counselling services since 2005. She is a registered social worker (SWRB) and member of her social work professional group (ANZASW) as well as being a full member of the Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association (ANZICA). Helen is also a yoga teacher and is passionate about yoga and the role it plays in enhancing individual wellbeing.