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Posts Tagged ‘infertility support’

When you’re coping with infertility, certain comments and experiences can bring that pain to the forefront. Well-meaning remarks, family-focused events and sometimes even being around friends with babies can be painful when you’re longing to have a little one of your own.

Friends and family who have not experienced infertility have good intentions, but often don’t understand how sensitive the situation may be. Truthfully, navigating the waters can be incredibly difficult for aspiring couples, as well as their friends and family. Here are 12 tips to help all parties build strong, supportive relationships.

6 Tips for Couples Coping with Infertility:

  1. Anticipate when you might see children at events. If it’s too painful to be around youngsters, consider arriving just in time for the main event and not earlier.
  2. Consider social invitations carefully.  You have no obligation to go to parties and events heavily attended by children or pregnant women, especially if it’s too difficult emotionally. When in doubt, decline.
  3. Be prepared. Plan an answer ahead of time should someone inquire about your intentions to have children. While relatives and close friends will understand, couples are under no obligation to discuss personal details about their infertility experiences.
  4. To hold, or not to hold? Holding a baby for some can bring hope, while for others it can be incredibly painful. Everyone may want to share in the joy of a baby as do you, but you must always listen to your personal needs first.
  5. Focus on your relationship with your partner and spending quality time together without discussing family planning. It could be a ski trip or a romantic getaway, or a simple date night.
  6. Concentrate on friendships with couples who don’t have children. Surrounding yourself with couples who aren’t child-centric can ease the pressure of what you are facing personally. Plan to spend time with couples or friends who don’t have children should child-filled gatherings become too much to bear.

6 “Infertility Etiquette” Tips for Friends & Family:

  1. Show support. A helpful hug and encouraging statement can make a world of difference. Spend quality time together and make plans without children as the main focus.
  2. Don’t complain about your own past or present pregnancy. Couples dealing with infertility hope for the day they can worry about pregnancy woes.
  3. Avoid minimizing the problem by discussing parenting struggles or saying “there are worse things that could happen.” Until you are in a couple’s shoes, you are unable to understand how difficult infertility can be.
  4. Stay away from offering advice or tips for a couple looking to conceive. Topics such as exercise, food and lifestyle are off limits. If they are seeing a physician, they are already aware of your suggestions. Couples coping with infertility also often cope with the unjust blame they place upon themselves. No need to increase the burden.
  5. Never say: “Just Relax.” Everyone has heard it before – just relax, if it is meant to be, it will happen. But looking at a couple’s situation and reducing it to a simple statement is insensitive and careless. If couples have tried unsuccessfully for more than a year to conceive, doctors consider couples infertile. While stress often appears to be a contributor, the human reproductive system is complex and affected by a number of biological and physical factors.

Don’t push adoption. Each couple has their own approach to family building, and are well aware of their options. This is a tough topic to navigate, and pushing your opinion may not help them make a decision.

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Let’s talk about grief and loss and how this cycle can turn into depression during the infertility journey. Women with infertility are constantly going through grief and loss over and over, every month. It is devastating.  Many women end up crossing over into clinical depression because of how intense this cycle can be.

In both grief and depression people cry, they feel depressed, they’re having trouble sleeping, they may not have an appetite, they may not feel like doing anything, and they may not take pleasure in anything. There is no timeline for grief. In addition, cultural and circumstantial factors contribute to how people express and cope with it.

During a prolonged battle with termnal illness, as well as after the death of a loved one, a community of family, friends and co-workers often unites to provide ongoing support to those who are grieving. That does not happen when a couple is going through infertility and unfortunately it is quite the opposite.  There is no support, no one knows about it usually, and if they do people can say things that are very hurtful.

This puts women are greater risk of depression going through infertility. People suffering from major depression tend to be isolated and feel disconnected from others, and may shun such support and assistance. People who don’t get such support, or who avoid it, may be at greater risk for slipping into clinical depression during the grieving process.

Some suggestions to dealing with grief and loss with infertility:

  • Expect to feel depressed. Loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and sadness are all part of the normal grief process, and are best not interfered with.
  • Expect grief to wax and wane over time. You may feel “fine” one day, only to slip back into deep grief the next day.
  • Build and use a support network. Grieving individuals need others to talk to and to care for them not just for a few days, but over an extended period of time. Find a support group or a therapist.
  • If you experience thoughts of suicide, serious weight loss, or are unable to perform daily functions such as getting out of bed or going to work for more than an occasional day, consider seeking additional professional help.

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That’s the question, isn’t it…I can say yes it is, just in my brief clinical experience, but after reading more lately, I can say for sure it is. Also I am seeing more and more secondary infertility. This is when conceiving child #1 wasn’t a problem, but the 2nd child becomes a challenge to conceive.

Infertility rates are on the rise and here are some reasons why.

About 10 to 15 percent of couples are truly infertile. But that number is getting closer to 15 or even 20 percent simply because more people these days are delaying childbirth, leading to a lot more infertility.

The trouble with waiting longer to have children is that a woman’s eggs decrease in both quantity and quality starting at age 30. When I say starting, we don’t know how fast that decline is and for some women it maybe faster. Also miscarriage rates increase because the rate of having a child with abnormalities also increase.  Typically once you hit 40, the likelihood of chromosomal abnormalities and unhealthier eggs are much higher.

Many preliminary diagnostics can be performed by a patient’s OB/GYN you don’t need to go see a specialist right away, but also don’t wait too long. If you are 40 you probably should go straight to a specialist and if you are in your 30s after a year of trying to conceive you should see a specialist.

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1) Take a 10-30 minute walk every day and leave your cares behind. Have a spring in your step and smile. If you encounter someone, smile or say hello.

2) Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to your God about what is going on in your life.

3) When you wake up in the morning complete these statements: ‘My purpose is to__________ today. I am thankful for______________’

4) Don’t compare your life to others. In spite of appearances, you have no idea what their journey is all about.

5) However good or bad your situation is, it will change. Nothing stays the stagnant, time moves forward.

6) No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

7) Make peace with your past so it won’t spoil your present.

8) You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree, or simply accept the other person’s perspective for what it is and move on.

9) Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

10) Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

11) Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. But your friends will. So stay in touch!

Source: PCOS review

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I am frequently hearing from my clients their concerns about doing IUI or IVF are primarily because of the stress it puts you through emotionally and physically.  Most of these concerns are a result of what others have experienced and have either shared with these women or posted online somewhere.  In my experience we are more likely to hear the horror stories rather than the good ones. So I am writing this post to discuss how to keep your head screwed on straight during the treatment cycle and how to have a positive experience.  You may be thinking, yeah right that’s not possible. But it really is and from personal experience with IVF recently you can do it!

First word of advice is to not compare yourself to anyone else who is going through or has gone through IUI/IVF.  We all have different reactions to medications and no one’s experience is identical to another.  Also we tend to follow in people footsteps when we hear about how badly it went for them. We then anticipate a horrible experience, work ourselves up and therefore, have a horrible experience.  So avoid chat boards with negative stories and avoid getting other peoples opinion other than your Dr. or therapist.

Next I would suggest to make sure you are getting the support you need.  That may be going to a support group or getting your own individual therapy in order to have a place to process your anxiety.  Getting the fears and anxieties off your chest can make for a much easier experience and being able to connect with others in a group is extremely validating.

Focus on the miracle you are making everyday rather than the negative aspects of the medication or the fact that you have to resort to extreme measures to achieve pregnancy.  It’s a miracle how far fertility treatments have come and some of us would never have the opportunity to get pregnant if it wasn’t was the advancement in science. So remember how lucky you are to even be able to get to take advantage of it…some people just can’t afford it and therefore their journey stops there.

Take care of yourself whether that would be giving yourself time to be alone and read a book, take a nap, go for a run, or get acupuncture.  Make sure you are doing something for yourself daily and it can be just taking 20 minutes to focus on your breathe….just make sure you do something.  This is the time to baby yourself and enjoy your body and the miracles it brings you on a daily basis.

Again this doesn’t have to be the worst experience ever.  I wouldn’t sign up for it as a good time, but I don’t think it has to be dreaded and you definitely don’t want to go into this IUI/IVF experience thinking you will fall apart.  Good luck to you all, you are true warriors and what great parents you will be after going through this journey!  Be proud of yourselves!

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So, you may be asking, what does mindfulness got to do with it and how is it supposed to help my situation?  Great question and this just dawned on me the other day while I gave a mind and body talk for Resolve.

Here’s some definitions of mindfulness:

Mindfulness, a deceptively simple way of relating to experience, has long been used to lessen the sting of life’s difficulties, especially those that are seemingly self-imposed. “a moment-by-moment awareness” Mindfulness lies at the heart of Buddhist psychology. Mindfulness is a skill that allows us to be less reactive to what is happening in the moment. It is a way of relating to ALL experience-positive, negative, and neutral-so that our overall level of suffering is reduced and our sense of well-being increases.
So whether you are going through this journey or not Mindfulness is a great tool to deal with suffering and pain in all areas of life. It just so happens that there has been a lot of research done on what helps women and couples go through this infertility journey and Mindfulness is one technique or practice that is getting a lot of attention.
I have to admit I wasn’t very mindful prior to my infertility journey, but now I embrace the moments I have and it has helped me tremendously in dealing with all challenges in life.  Usually whatever is happening NOW is ok and we can handle. So if you can get out of your head chatter, out of the what if’s and the should of, would of, and could of…then you will be better off.  And in the end isn’t happiness what we are all looking for?
What are examples of Mindlessness?

-rushing through activies without being attentive to them
-breaking or spilling things because of inattention
-failing to notice subtle feelings of physical tension or discomfort
-forgetting a person’s name as soon as we have heard it
-being preoccupied with the furture or past
-snacking without being aware of eating
The more we stray from the present the more we suffer. Mindfulness can help us to step out of our conditioning and see things freshly- to see the rose it is. This is why most professionally lead infertility support groups incorporate Mindfulness practices into their groups.
We are re-starting our group here in the next 2 weeks, but new members are always welcome to come along during the ongoing group to get started.  We don’t want you to have to wait to get support.

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For thousands of years, infertility was considered a female problem. The word “barren” sounds almost comical now but was a commonplace label a century ago. In The Cottage Physician, written at the end of the 19th century, a section entitled “Barrenness” lists possible causes, including “want of tone or strength in the system” and “nervous debility.” Treatments included “cold bathing, general tonics or strengtheners to the system, electricity applied locally” as well as “abstinence from sexual indulgence for a time.” Fortunately, medicine has progressed considerably since then and the diagnosis and treatment of infertility have improved dramatically. But the misconception that it’s solely a female problem has persisted.

About 40 percent of infertility is due to a male factor. Unfortunately, many couples and even doctors neglect to evaluate the male partner – leading to unnecessary testing on the female as well as needless anxiety, cost, and delay in starting a family. So don’t forget to have a basic sperm analysis and even an extensive one before you waste more time then is necessary. I have seen plenty of women go through this process for years before getting these tests done and discovering it had nothing to do with them!

Source: Dr. Jon LaPook

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