Fertility

Mindfulness for Fertility – Can Practicing Mindfulness Increase Your Chances with Fertility Treatment?

Eloise Edington  |  4 Jan 2020


 

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Keeping a positive outlook whilst undergoing fertility treatment such as IVF can be a challenge, especially as the emotions you go through can feel like you’re on some sort of rollercoaster! You’ve probably heard of mindfulness before, and maybe books like the one Izzy Judd has written on Mindfulness for Mums? But how can it help when you’re trying to conceive? We talked to expert Andreia who used mindfulness in her own infertility journey to tell us some more.

Over to Andreia Trigo…

www.andreiatrigo.com | @andreiatrigorn

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness of the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgement. In today’s life, when we are so used to being busy, multitasking, worrying about the past that we cannot change or about the future that hasn’t happened yet, mindfulness is all about creating a pause in our day to day life.

Eckhart Tolle in the book ‘The Power of Now’ says, “The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future”. It’s our ability to be fully present that allows us to make decisions and take actions that determine our future.

How Can Mindfulness Change Your Life?

Mindfulness has been researched over the years, in high quality studies that identified clearly the changes that happen in our brain waves when we practice mindfulness. Some of the benefits are:

·      Reduced stress

·      Enhanced performance

·      Gaining insight and awareness

·      Self-compassion

·      Experiencing negative inner states in new ways

Mindfulness and Fertility

When it comes to fertility, mindfulness can also be an important tool. As we experience distress that comes from fear of the unknown, fear of unmet reproductive goals, fear of not being loved, fear of not being enough – mindfulness can help us reconnect with our body and mind and perceive our experience in a different way.

Research on mindfulness programmes during fertility treatment has shown that they help:

·      Improve the psychological well-being

·      Self-acceptance

·      Positive relations with others

·      Autonomy

·      Purpose in life

·      Personal growth

·      Quality of life

·      Developing meaning-based coping strategies

Research also shows mindfulness decreases reliance on avoidance-based coping strategies (e.g. avoiding pregnant women, avoiding baby showers etc) to deal with thoughts and emotions related to IVF and infertility. With mindfulness we stop using avoidance as a coping tool and develop other strategies that are more beneficial.

After a six month mindfulness course, research also shows that women were significantly more likely to have become pregnant (45%) than others who didn’t practice mindfulness (26%). Being fully aware of the present moment without the lens of judgment, seems to help women relate to their infertility and IVF treatment in new ways.

Related Article – Fertility and the Mind – The Truth

Incorporating it into Treatment

You may be thinking “how do I incorporate mindfulness into fertility treatment?”. The answer is that it is in fact very easy. Mindfulness doesn’t require us to change who we are or to develop any skills that are too challenging. In fact, all we have to do is cultivate our innate qualities with simple practices that are scientifically proven to benefit ourselves, those around us and the world:

1)    Introduce short pauses into everyday life: start by introducing short pauses, where you allow yourself to stop, and appreciate what is happening right now, without judgement.

2)    Set affirmations: choose one or two affirmations that you repeat to yourself every day. I have a reminder on my phone that says “I’m committed to being in a state of peace, love, joy and gratitude” and it reminds me every day at 5pm. It’s one of my mindful moments.

3)    Mindful Activities: think about activities that you do every day, as routine, and make yourself get out of the automatic pilot mode and be mindful during those activities.

a.     Teeth Brushing: for example, be mindful of when you are brushing your teeth, the smell of toothpaste, the sensation it triggers in your mouth, what movements you are doing with the toothbrush.

b.     Mindful Eating: try mindful eating, looking at the food, the colours, the way it looks on the plate. Bringing it closer, noticing the smell, the texture as it touches your tongue, the taste.

4)    Body Scan: listen to a body scan for 3 minutes, as a way of connecting with every part of your body and your surroundings.

5)    Gratitude Diary: start a gratitude diary, to be mindful of all the special moments you are grateful for today.

Related Article – What is Fertility meditation and can it help Increase Fertility Rates

Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc is a multi-awarded nurse consultant, author and TEDx speaker.  Combining her medical experience and her own infertility journey, she developed unique strategies to help people undergoing similar challenges achieve their reproductive goals. Her mission is to improve accessibility to fertility care and support worldwide at minimal cost to populations. She is the founder of the Enhanced Fertility Programme, the evidence-based programme that improved help for fertility, currently in use by several clinics and patients worldwide.

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