On the other hand, however, this is one area where you have little to no control. Whether the embryo implants or not is really down to the course of nature and a little bit of luck.
Despite finding an IVF cycle much harder than I thought it would be, the embryo transfer was the one procedure that my husband and I actually quite enjoyed. It’s really hard not to feel excited when you see that little shooting star drop into your uterus on the monitor. Many people refer to this stage as being ‘Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise (PUPO)’ and it’s pretty amazing to think that you might have just had the first glimpse of your baby.
Whilst there is nothing you can do during this time that will unequivocally influence the outcome of your cycle, there are some do’s and don’ts that may help encourage the embryo to implant.
Here are my top 5 tips of what NOT to do when you’re on your 2-week wait post embryo transfer:
- Avoid Bed Rest – There are some sources that suggest complete bed rest after embryo transfer and I believe this was the advice traditionally given when IVF was first pioneered. However, more recent and important research argues that complete bed rest is not advisable. Whilst nothing vigorous should be undertaken, it is vital to keep your circulation flowing and therefore it’s important to keep moving. Maintaining a normal routine is also important to keep your mind off what is inevitably a very long 2 weeks. Sitting in bed for all this time would make it much more agonising!
- Don’t Overdo It – Whilst bearing in mind tip number 1, it is equally as important that you take the rest you need. An IVF cycle is extremely taxing, not only on your body but on your emotional and mental well-being too, therefore it’s crucial that you take time to rest, recuperate and generally just listen to your body. If it’s telling you to stop and have a sofa day, then just do it. Leave the housework to your other half, go for some gentle walks in the fresh air, eat well, as though you’re already pregnant and get plenty of sleep. Essentially, looking after yourself is vital at this stage.
- Avoid Extreme Temperatures – Keeping your body temperature at a normal level is advisable as too much heat is not ideal for embryo implantation. Therefore, it’s best to avoid hot baths as well as keeping out of hot tubs and saunas for the duration, since they can also leave you vulnerable to infection. Keep yourself warm and cosy, but just be sensible when it comes to overexposure of temperatures. Stick to nice warm showers for the duration of your 2-week wait.
- Don’t miss your medications – During both my rounds of IVF, I started bleeding halfway through the 2-week wait post embryo transfer. I immediately felt devastated, sure that my cycle had failed. Whilst this was true for the first round, I actually ended up being pregnant after my second round, and obviously what I had experienced was simply an implantation bleed. This just highlights how much your body can react to the embryo implanting itself into your uterus and sometimes throw out odd symptoms. Therefore, it’s really important to follow your fertility clinic’s advice and keep taking any medications they have recommended for the entire duration of the 2-week wait. Do not skip doses and do not decide to stop your medication just because you may have had a bleed. Sometimes a bleed can be a good sign.
- Don’t panic – A critical piece of advice I can give regarding what not to do after embryo transfer is not to panic. This is much easier said than done; I’m a natural-born worrier therefore it’s extremely hard for me not to run through every possible scenario in my head during that dreaded 2-week wait. I analyse every twinge and tweak I feel and try to decide whether it’s a good thing or not. However, trying to relax is really the best thing you can do for yourself during this stressful time, and this is something I’m learning the more cycles I do. You need to give your body the time and environment to accept your embryo as well as allowing yourself to recover from the IVF process itself, both physically and emotionally. Just take things easy, relax and try to think positively.
The most important thing to remember through this stressful time of your IVF cycle is that whether the embryo implants or not is really down to the quality of the embryo and how receptive your uterus is. Therefore, there’s nothing fundamental you can do that will wholeheartedly influence the outcome. This is important to remember as when a cycle fails, it is so easy to blame yourself and punish yourself for doing or not doing something after the embryo transfer. This is futile and only serves to make yourself feel worse during a horrendously difficult time. All you can do is allow yourself the time to heal and move forward.
Hopefully my five tips above will make the nerve-wracking 2-week wait post embryo transfer slightly easier to navigate and with a little bit of help from lady luck, you will have the outcome we all desire.