How to ACTUALLY relax while trying to get pregnant

How many times have you heard “just relax while trying to get pregnant and it will happen!” This statement is so infuriating to hear when you’re struggling to conceive. Also, as far as I’m aware – NO ONE in the history of the world has ever relaxed from being told to.

That being said, there is some truth to the statement. Reducing stress can have a positive impact on your fertility and ability to conceive. So how do you actually relax while trying to get pregnant?

relax while trying to get pregnant

How bad is stress really when you’re trying to conceive?

When you’re feeling stressed, your body is in fight, flight or freeze mode. This is actually your body being really clever. Your nervous system is designed to keep you safe.

As far as your body is concerned stress = danger. Your stress response is activated so that you can run or fight your way away from that danger. Your breathing speeds up, blood pressure increases and is diverted to your arms and legs (and away from your digestive and reproductive organs).

Unfortunately though, your body can’t tell the difference between the stress of needing to escape something life-threatening and the stress of worrying about when you’ll conceive. If you’re in constant stress mode your body doesn’t get to do all the important functions that it does during the rest-and-digest state.

You could be eating the most nutritious food, but if you’re highly stressed your body won’t be getting the time it needs to digest and absorb those nutrients properly. You might be doing everything else “right” to balance your hormones (reducing chemicals, moving your body regularly, etc) but if your body is constantly flooded with cortisol (the stress hormone) your reproductive hormones will also be out of whack. Time for rest is so incredibly important to balance hormones and help your reproductive system work as it was designed to.

5 ways to relax while trying to get pregnant

1. Sleep away your stress.

Sleep has a BIG role to play when it comes to regulating our reproductive hormones. Research has shown that that a lack of sleep over a prolonged period of time has a big impact on our fertility.

Not getting enough sleep also makes us foggy and irritable, and we all know how hard it is to make good decisions when we feel like crap.

Exhaustion can also impact male fertility too, so make sure you encourage your partner to increase his sleep quality too.

Improve the quality of your sleep by getting to bed by 10pm, practising a relaxing wind down routine (without screens), limiting caffeine and alcohol (which impact sleep quality) and reducing your overall stress levels. (Yoga and meditation practices like this one can help with this.)

2. Move your body, move your stress.

Moving your body is one of the fastest ways to reduce stress. From a biological perspective, helping your body move through the stress cycle when it perceives a danger you need to escape from, is going to help you to relax afterwards. Even if the “danger” is a scary fertility treatment, instead of an actual physical danger.

High intensity exercises are great for this because they get your heart rate up and release those endorphins that will have you feeling good afterwards. Try boxing, running or even just dancing around your house to help you shift stress.

Don’t rule out more restorative types of exercise for stress relief though. Slower movement like yoga, tai chi and even walking are great for helping you to slow down and just BE in your body. This will help you to stop living entirely in your head, disconnected from what your body is experiencing.

When you’re connected to what your body feels, you’re more likely to recognise the feelings of stress and make changes to reduce it.

3. Keep living your beautiful, messy life.

When I was trying to fall pregnant (after having 3 losses in less than 12 months), I became obsessed. I avoided making plans too far in advance because “maybe I would be pregnant then.” I didn’t pursue career opportunities because I was hoping I’d be pregnant and not still working. I avoided social events. It was too hard to make conversation when all I could think about was falling pregnant.

This was a mistake. Putting my life on hold made an already challenging experience even harder.

Try to avoid becoming solely focused on trying to fall pregnant. Keep living your beautiful, messy life. Make holiday plans. Take that promotion. Talk to your friends.

None of these things will affect whether you get your baby or not. You’re better off enjoying the journey so you don’t look back at all this time you “wasted” worrying and fixating on something that is out of your control.

4. Keep talking

I know how hard it is to share this intensely private experience with people in your real life. How devastated you are by your period arriving (yet again), doesn’t really feel like appropriate staff room conversation.

I’m not saying you need to share your fertility struggles with the whole world. I do think you need a few close friends who you can be honest with. You don’t need to feel alone in this. When you open up to those around you, you’ll find others with similar stories.

Trying to keep it all to yourself will only make it all so much harder. Talk to your partner. Be honest with your friends. Reach out to a counsellor. Even if you feel like you don’t know what to say, it’s important to have people in your life who understand.

You’re not alone.

5. Try alternative therapies.

There are so many different offerings these days to help combat stress. I’d recommend trying as many as you can to find what works for you.

Yoga, meditation and breathwork are my favourites. But acupuncture, sound healing and reiki are also great options.

Even if you feel like alternative therapies are a bit “weird”, who cares – if they work! Other alternative therapies that my clients recommend include; aromatherapy, hypnotherapy, equine therapy, massage, tai chi, reflexology, weighted blankets, float tanks and laughter yoga.

Does relaxing help you get pregnant?

The effect of stress on fertility hasn’t been well studied, but most of the research we do have suggests there is a positive link between reducing stress and falling pregnant. Even without the evidence, reducing stress when you’re trying to conceive WILL help you enjoy the process more. After all, isn’t TTC meant to be enjoyable?

How do you stop obsessing over trying to conceive?

First, I want to recognise that it’s really hard to stop obsessing when having a baby is something you want so much. It’s challenging to let go of that, because it feels like you’re letting go of your chance of having a baby. But you’re not. You’re just loosening your grip on thinking about falling pregnant, so that you can actually enjoy your life while trying to conceive.

Obsession isn’t going to bring your baby to you any faster. If anything, obsessing breeds stress, which can make the experience even more challenging.

The best thing I did to stop the obsession was to take a break. We stopped trying for about 8 or 9 months. During this time I just focused on living my happy life. I planned holidays again. I got started on house projects I’d been putting off. I remembered what it felt like to just live, without the inability to conceive hanging over my head.

Then when we came back to trying, I kept that same perspective. I let trying to fall pregnant be a part of my life, but not all of it. This approach let me actually enjoy the process and meant I went into my next pregnancy (which turned out to be our boy Luca) with a much healthier mindset.

Where to now?

1. Consider whether you need to take a break to reset and find a way to actually relax while trying to get pregnant.

2. Find a practice that will help you stay on top of stress. (You’ll find lots of fertility friendly classes in my online yoga circle. I’d love to invite you to join us over there.)

3. Give yourself some grace. This is hard, but you are strong. (Sending you love x)

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