Fertility

How to Improve IVF Success – Fertility Nutritionist Dishes

Eloise Edington  |   18 May 2021


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Michelle has been a nutritionist for the last fourteen years – specializing in female fertility. During her fertility struggles, taking control of factors like food and supplementation, helped Michelle to manage psychological burdens. Read on as she shares some easy-to-follow concepts, as well as research that you can use to help feel supported throughout your IVF journey.

Words by Michelle

www.mymindbodybaby.com

Did it ever cross your mind that you can play a role in improving your IVF success chances?

Hi, I’m Michelle, Registered Nutritionist, (in)fertility success story x2, and co-founder of myMindBodyBaby – an online support hub with a mission to provide evidenced-based and practical support programs for women struggling to conceive. Research has shown that the psychological burden associated with fertility treatments, like IVF, is one of the most difficult aspects of a fertility journey (Hammarberg et al). In fact, psychological burden is the leading cause of patients discontinuing treatment (Domar et al).

Finding ways to reduce your psychological burden can help you to feel more positive, optimistic, lighter and more able to persevere with the treatments that will ultimately increase your chances of a successful pregnancy (Clifton et al). Not only do some of the tools and tactics help relieve anxiety and stress, which in itself has been hypothesized to increase chances of success, but also the tools themselves have been shown through research to increase the potential for pregnancy.

Related Article – Meditation for Fertility: Dealing with Anxiety and Uncertainty on your Fertility Journey

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The Psychological Burden

What you are going through is not easy. It can feel like a roller coaster with different stressors or burdens taking the lead at different points in your journey. You are likely burdened by the knowledge that fertility treatment is not a guarantee that you will get pregnant. The costs associated with treatment can feel overwhelming. Friends and family don’t get what you are going through, leaving you feeling isolated and alone. You and your partner may also find your intimacy and your relationship have begun to suffer.

Each fertility patient’s journey is different and what you find burdensome will be different than the next fertility patient. You might find the waiting unbearable, whereas another patient might find the uncertainty to be the hardest part. We know that for many the burden can become too much. As a result, those who do not have the coping tools to reduce their psychological burden often discontinue treatment and as a result may be less likely to achieve pregnancy.

Try to harness supportive tools to reduce your psychological burden – support looks different for each individual – what makes you feel less psychologically burdened might be different from what makes me feel more supported. Below are the easy-to-follow concepts to help you:

Related Article – Five Essential Functional Medicine Tests for Fertility

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Food

We get a ton of questions about the best diet to eat during IVF. Is it Keto? Paleo? High fat? Low fat? Luckily for you, the jury is NOT out – we know this answer! In this study, a greater adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet while going through IVF was associated with a higher likelihood of achieving clinical pregnancy and live birth among non-obese women <35 years of age. Also, in this study, more embryos were obtained via IVF when the participant followed a Mediterranean diet.

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET IS CHARACTERIZED BY:

  • Daily consumption of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and healthy plant-based fats
  • Weekly intake of poultry, fish, nuts, and beans
  • Moderate portions of dairy
  • Limited intake of red meat

The research is so overwhelming in favour of the Mediterranean diet that our Master IVF, Fitness and Nutrition system is based around these concepts. Don’t have the time to do the research and put it all together? Our IVF program is a go-to for patients looking to use nutrition as a way to support their body + mind – to know they are really doing everything in their power to make the IVF cycle a success. Learn more here

Related Article – Foods That Help Fertility: Hormone Balancing Buddha Bowl

Fitness

We already know that regular, moderate exercise helps to support fertility. But did you know that exercise has been shown to improve IVF success / pregnancy rates? A 2018 study concluded: “Female physical activity before IVF/ICSI cycles was associated with increased rates of clinical pregnancy and live births.” This is major news for those who already adore a good session of moderate exercise and critical information for those who are not active… maybe this is THE motivation to start moving!

In addition to supporting pregnancy rates, for many, exercise is a form of stress relief. With IVF being a major life event that can cause a significant amount of stress, having a proven tool to reduce this psychological burden is imperative. The guidelines show that 150 minutes per week of regular, moderate exercise (moderate being a level where you can speak in short bursts but not have a full convo or sing), spread out over three or more days in the week, is ideal. When it comes to exercise during your IVF cycle, there are a few modifications to be aware of. To reduce your risk of ovarian torsion, during your IVF stimulation you should avoid:

  1. High-impact exercise (think running, jumping jacks, etc)
  2. Inversions (like headstands)
  3. Twists, turns and sudden changes in direction (like the flip to change direction if you’re swimming laps in a pool)

For those who need more support in this area – our Master IVF Fitness and Nutrition system will give you day-by-day instructions on exactly how to move (and eat) to make the most of your treatment. Learn more here.

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

Mind

By now you hopefully know we are all about the research – no fluffy stuff over here. So, when we say that research has shown that mindfulness practice can increase the success of IVF, you can bet that it does! As each person experiences stress and burden differently, it only makes sense that how each person practises mindfulness would also be different. Remember, the key here is to find what helps reduce your psychological burden to enable you hopefully to continue the fertility treatment that could ultimately lead to pregnancy.

To get you started, I have put together an IVF Planner dedicated to helping you understand your IVF-related challenges, prompting questions on how to solve them plus questions for your doctor to help you make the most of your appointments – all with the goal of lightening your load. You can download this free booklet here. In addition, our Master IVF Fitness and Nutrition system provides you with meditation and positive visualization support specific to your IVF cycle. On key days in the IVF cycle, you will be given specific positive visualizations or meditations to help you reign in your anxious mind. Learn more here

I hope having evidence-based research on different ways to improve your IVF cycle has and will help you to reduce your psychological burden and feel more supported. Fertility challenges are tough, I completely understand. If you want more help, please reach out with any questions to Michelle@mymindbodybaby.com

Get your IVF Fitness and Nutrition Guide here

Michelle Strong is a Registered Nutritionist specializing in fertility nutrition & Co-Founder of myMindBodyBaby, an online community to support those struggling with their fertility.  They offer fertility lifestyle programs to optimize your chances of getting pregnant.  Visit the shop and use the code FHH15 for 15% off any of their fertility fitness or nutrition plans!

Related Article – Exercise Whilst Trying to Conceive: 5 Fitness Trainers who Help the Body, Mind and Soul

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