How to prepare for an embryo transfer – the right way

Many of the women I work with 1:1 in preparation for IVF ask how to prepare for an embryo transfer. Should they stop drinking? Should they get a certain number of hours sleep? Should they eat certain foods? What exercise should they do and what should they avoid?

My response is always the same – First let’s take a breath and pause for a moment because you’ve got a lot going on right now.

Embryo transfer is usually the last stage of an assisted reproductive process. It comes after stimulation, egg collection and fertilisation, and there have been countless appointments and tests along the way.

The actual embryo transfer can feel super overwhelming because now it’s all on you. There is nothing left to do but wait. And the waiting can feel excruciating.

While your fertility doctor has likely given you a list of dos and do nots (which you should absolutely follow), I want to share other ways you can prepare for a transfer that you possibly haven’t thought about.

Let’s talk about how to manage the stress and anxiety that a transfer can create. I want you to also know how to care for your heart during this time. It’s important to also stay connected to the love and spiritual side of making a baby (something that can be easily forgotten when we’re going through a medicalised process.)

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how to prepare for an embryo transfer

How to prepare for an embryo transfer

Schedule rest

Let me be clear. I am not saying you need to be on bedrest for the two weeks after your embryo transfer. In fact studies have shown that bedrest following an embryo transfer does not increase positive results.

If anything, doing nothing can be so hard when you’re already feeling anxious. Instead, plan to make the two weeks following your transfer as stress-free as possible. Keep living your happy life, but do it in a way that is super kind to yourself. Reduce your workload if you can. Only say yes to social events you genuinely enjoy. Book your self-care appointments in advance.

Plan to manage stress

Work out how you’re going to relieve stress before you get to the two week wait. Because let’s be real – we don’t often make the best decisions when we’re stressed.

Instead, acknowledge that you’re going to be struggling with some level of anxiety during the two week wait. Of course you are! This little embryo means everything to you. They are meant to be your future. Acknowledge that and plan how you are going to manage the intense feelings the waiting is going to bring up.

You could:

  • pre-book appointments with your counsellor or therapist
  • go to acupuncture weekly
  • create a morning or evening ritual to help you feel held throughout the process (mine involved yoga, meditation and journalling, but you can include whatever you like!)
  • ask a good friend to check in daily
  • write a list of things you enjoy and commit to doing them over the two weeks (hint. keep them small and simple).
  • or go deep into a project (many of my clients have started gardens or art projects during their two week wait).
  • practise yoga daily (this includes breath work and meditation, not just the physical practice).

Let yourself feel

All the articles I’ve ever read about ‘surviving the two week wait’ focus on distraction and just getting through. Even I’ve suggested putting your focus elsewhere so that the stress of waiting after an embryo transfer doesn’t consume you.

However you should also give yourself permission to feel all the emotions that come up for you. That’s the funny thing about feelings. If you run from them, they tend to get bigger. Give yourself permission after your transfer to just be in the experience of it. Acknowledge that it’s going to come with a whole bunch of difficult emotions to feel. Let yourself be present to them. And be super kind to yourself while you do it.

Find awe

Awe is “feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your current understanding of the world.” It’s often described as feelings of wonder, marvel and transcendence.

Without knowing the words to describe this feeling, I’ve always sought awe when I’m struggling with something. I usually find it in natural spaces. In forests with trees so old I can’t even fathom. Standing on the edge of an ocean so vast, my own existence feels smaller somehow (and less overwhelming).

The book The New Science of Everyday Wonder recently gave me the words to describe what this feeling is and how it can help when you’re struggling with something.

Actively seek out the feeling of awe during your two week wait. What creates awe for me might be different for you, so take the time to learn what creates this for you.

Opportunities to feel awe:

  • Climb a mountain.
  • Get up early and watch the sunrise (by yourself or with someone you love).
  • Turn all the lights off in your house and go outside and look up at the stars.
  • Try something new.
  • Listen to music that is meaningful to you (without any other distractions).
  • Go for a walk and truly notice the world around you.

Be kind to you

If you do nothing else after your embryo transfer – treat yourself with extreme kindness and compassion. When we want something with our whole heart, the stakes are high. You are strong enough and you will get through this.

This yoga class below was created specifically for after a fresh or frozen embryo transfer. I hope it helps. x

What not to do after an embryo transfer?

Avoid cold foods

Reproductive endocrinologists recommend choosing warm, easily digestible foods after your transfer. Think about it as a way to give your body maximum nutrition with minimal effort.

Ditch the toxins

Ideally, you would all eliminate endocrine-disrupting chemicals when going through an IVF process (and afterwards to improve overall health). These chemicals mess with your hormones and can interfere with conception. However I don’t want you to send yourself entirely crazy trying to avoid everything. Instead just do your best to limit your exposure to strong chemicals and scented products. Avoid: nail polish, eating and drinking out of plastic, cosmetics with fragrance, non-stick cooking pans, strong household cleaners, house paint.

Avoid extreme temperatures

It’s a good idea to avoid extreme heat and cold temperatures after an embryo transfer. This includes baths, saunas, ice baths, hot tubs and other activities that build heat.

Forget to keep living your happy life

I know it feels like you need to put your life on hold while you wait to see if this transfer has been successful, but it’s SO important to keep living your happy life. Write a list of things you’re going to enjoy during the two week wait, instead of obsessing over pregnancy symptoms. This will help to relieve the stress of waiting (and help you to actually enjoy the process). I’ll be sending you all my love and hope for a positive result. Let me know how you go.

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