Coping with Christmas Fertility Blues

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Making your own mind management plan for coping with fertility issues

The hardest thing for couples to deal with is the uncertainty of if and when they will get pregnant This time of year poses many challenges for couples. The one thing you do have control of is how you manage your mind - Zita West

The Christmas holidays pose many challenges to so many of the clients we see who are trying for a baby or going through IVF. It is a time to reflect on the year and whether it has been good or bad, happy or sad. Everybody is making plans for the coming year and the hardest challenge for the couples we see is dealing with uncertainty - will the coming year bring a pregnancy and a much wanted baby?

There is also the pressure of socialising and dealing with extended family gatherings over the Christmas period. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and laughter, but very often when you are feeling low it is easy for situations to get out of hand. It is also easy to get stuck in negative thoughts patterns; we work with women (and men) every day who find it hard to cope emotionally and to stay feeling positive. Many of the couples we see want a plan of action, and techniques to cope.

We know how important the mind-body connection is to fertility. Getting pregnant or going through IVF is not just about having sex at the ‘right’ time or going through the motions of IVF; the mind can have a very powerful influence on the whole process of conception. Negative thoughts, emotions and behaviours can lead to increased anxiety and depression, and sabotage your goals of conception.

Emotional and psychological blocks can get in the way of conception. Your relationship with your partner really holds the key. If you are feeling anger and resentment towards your partner, not enjoying sex and not really ‘connecting’ with your partner but simply existing alongside each other in a vacuum, it means you are living a passion-starved existence that is hardly conducive to making a baby together.

Can you identify with any of these statements?

  •      I don’t want to see anyone with babies over Christmas
  •      I can’t bear to see another pregnant woman
  •      I can’t stand another person questioning me: Not drinking? Anything to tell me?
  •      I need help to stay positive.
  •      I feel out of control.
  •      I am getting over-anxious.
  •      I have never failed at anything until now.
  •      I need help to manage my stress.
  •      I know I am a perfectionist by nature.
  •      Maybe I don’t deserve to have a child.
  •      I don’t want to have any regrets.
  •      We need help to make the right decision.
  •      The clock is ticking.

The Manage Your Mind Programme will help you to change your mind-set and learn to let go. The programme incorporates a variety of techniques and treatments depending on the needs of the individual (and the couple), hypnotherapy, positive visualization, art therapy, or guided relaxation. The emphasis on the programme is to use techniques to challenge your negative beliefs and to come up with strategies to help you cope positively with the rigours of fertility investigations and treatment, and to maximize your fertility potential. Just a single session may be invaluable, or a series of 3-6 sessions may be more appropriate. More specific fertility/relationship counselling is available at the clinic as needed. the team who specialises in the health and well-being of women planning pregnancy, through pregnancy and the mother-baby bond.

So many of the couples we see find it easy to manage the challenges of every other aspect of their home, work and financial life but are often unable to mange their minds when they are full of negative feelings. With this programme, we help couples learn how to change their mind-set and just let go.

Make your own mind plan

1.     Compile an action plan of things to do over Christmas as a distraction.
2.     Build up your reserves over the holiday period. To build up your reserves you need to rest, sleep and practice techniques mentioned. The Chinese belief is that winter is a time for stillness and to get plenty of sleep (Christmas smack bang in the middle makes it difficult). Practise meditation or visualisation for 20 minutes a day.
3.     Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and emotions and how you are feeling and what you want to change in the New Year.
4.     Do take a break from routine. Enjoy what you eat and if you have a drink don’t beat yourself up about it.
5.     Look after your relationship. Be tolerant and flexible with one another over this time.
6.     If you feel that you are not coping and others are concerned about you make sure you get in contact with your GP.

For more information about therapy and techniques that can help you to manage your mind please read Zita West's book ' Guide to Fertility and Assisted Conception' or get in contact with the Zita West Clinic for a consultation

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Oonagh O'Neill
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