*This post was written by Laura Erlich, licensed acupuncturist and integrative fertility specialist at Mother Nurture Wellness.
Keeping a positive outlook on your fertility journey doesn’t require you to ignore all the difficult feelings that coexist when getting pregnant takes longer than expected. Forcing yourself to find the silver lining in your struggles in the name of the new year can feel inauthentic, and a disingenuous attempt at positivity ultimately does more harm than good. Instead, try thinking about how far you’ve come and make concrete plans to get the necessary tests and consultations you may need on the books. Remember that wherever you are on your journey, it’s all moving you toward your goal.
We know it’s easier said than done but staying positive is really about staying present. Be with yourself today, without focusing on past outcomes and without fearing future disappointments. Take inventory of all the progress you’ve made and remain focused on what is in front of you. Let your feelings bubble up without lingering, always keeping in mind that with each passing day, your baby is one day closer to being in your arms.
Here are a few ways to stay focused and present on your fertility journey this year (feel free to call them resolutions if you must):
Did you know that studies show a long fertility journey is found to be as stressful as metastatic cancer? The deep biological imperative to have a baby can make obstacles along the road profoundly stressful, and managing that stress is crucial. Stress reduction can be different for everyone, but there is one central tenet that applies to all: stay present. Rather than dwelling on the past or hyper-fixating on what’s to come, staying in the moment is the true key to inner peace. Staying present is a daily effort that can involve any combination of practices based on your preferences and stress levels. It’s about little things all day long, which add up to give your nervous system a break and allow it to come back to baseline. When practiced consistently, daily exercise or gentle movement, mindfulness exercises, and time with trusted loved ones can all go a long way toward reducing your stress load. Beyond that, staying in control of the things you can do—like prioritizing enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and working through relationship challenges when they arise—helps to mitigate the effects of stressors that are more difficult to wrangle.
Prepare your body for your fertility journey or pregnancy
Optimizing your body and mind before becoming pregnant is key. This might look a little different for everyone, but there are a few things that are universally beneficial when you’re making space for a baby:
- Start a prenatal supplement at least three months prior to trying to conceive
- Prioritize eight hours of sleep each night
- Eat a diet that includes high quality protein, lots of veggies and plenty of water
- Make sure you have a daily bowel movement
- Get in a little movement and exercise, daily
In an ideal world, you might also spend this time working through any relationship challenges you might be avoiding, considering ways to reduce work-related stress, and carving out time each week to do something creative or restful. Making space in your life for a baby starts with making space to nurture yourself. Incorporating holistic practices like acupuncture will help keep your nervous system and hormones balanced and your emotions in check.
Manage your emotions about the coming year
There is no denying that the fertility journey is fraught with incredible highs and, sometimes, crushing lows. The rollercoaster of emotions can be truly exhausting and finding ways to manage your feelings is important. If there is one thing to focus on, finding support is it—whether through one-on-one therapy, support groups or connecting with friends who have been or are going through it themselves. Infertility and miscarriage are often stigmatized as some kind of failure, which only serves to layer feelings of shame and guilt into an already difficult time. Beyond finding support, staying connected to your partner and ensuring your relationship is well-rounded beyond your desire to start your family will strengthen intimacy and love. Additionally, making time to meditate and move help to build resilience and keep your mind clear.