The two week wait, the longest and most difficult two weeks a woman will ever go through
For Francine Blanchet, specialist fertility therapist and BICA accredited fertility counsellor with Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM), helping couples deal with the two-week wait between an IVF embryo transfer and being able to take a pregnancy test is a challenge she embraces on a regular basis.
“After weeks full of blood tests, scans, frequent visits to the clinic and injections, you have your transfer and suddenly everything stops… now all you have to do is wait… which we know is easier said than done,” said Francine.
“It is normal to feel anxious, stressed or worried during the waiting period, and although it is a very commonly held belief that stress directly impacts fertility, there is very clear scientific evidence to show that stress does not actually make any difference to IVF or ICSI treatment outcomes.
“Nonetheless, you will want to do everything you can to try and remain as calm as possible whilst going through the two-week wait because it can be one of the most challenging parts of the process and anything you can do to help you get through it can only be good.
“Research has shown that thinking more about the positive elements of a difficult situation and dwelling less on problems and uncertainties about the future, helps people feel better.
“The most important thing is to find what makes YOU feel relaxed and happy throughout your wait.
“It helps to take account of the good aspects alongside the more negative aspects of the situation and remind yourself that even very challenging situations have some positive elements, which will differ depending on your personal circumstances.
“Some people might focus on appreciating the support or kindness that friends or family have shown during their fertility treatment, while others might think about the ways in which their relationship with their partner is stronger now because of this shared experience.
“Perhaps the fact that there is IVF treatment at all can be seen as a positive thing without which you would not be able to try for a baby.”
Here are Francine’s top suggestions for strategies that might help:
- Add some structure into the two weeks: write out a plan for each day with a list of something you wish to do on each of those days to focus on and look forward to. Put yourself first – this is a difficult time for you.
- Introduce things to improve your mood: bring into your daily life things that make you feel positive and relaxed. Watch your favourite film; listen to a playlist of happy songs; go to your favourite restaurant for dinner.
- Gentle Exercise: exercise is another way to give you a feel-good glow. Obviously avoiding anything too strenuous, exercise is something to improve our physical and emotional wellbeing. Maybe a walk out in nature could bring some calm. Or doing some gentle yoga or stretching exercises. Perhaps play some calming, tranquil music while you do this.
- Going back to work: for some this may be a good way of focussing your mind on other things, but make sure to plan ahead to ensure you do not have too many demanding meetings and projects scheduled in for this period to make this time as stress-free as possible.
- Meditation and mindfulness: you may find meditating or learning mindful techniques can help relieve some of the physical symptoms. Practicing ten minutes a day can help slow down your heart rate and slow your breathing and bring a sense of calm and ease.
- Writing or journalling: buy yourself a beautiful book and some coloured pens or pencils. Write down your thoughts and feelings – and maybe illustrate them creatively – as a release for all those stress-inducing experiences that build up during the day.
- Talking to a professional fertility therapist: your clinic should offer patient support sessions which can help you manage your stress and anxiety levels so they don’t become too overwhelming.
- Pamper yourself: find ways to take care of yourself and be kind to yourself. Perhaps book in for a pedicure, a foot or a head massage, have your make up or hair done, or go shopping and treat yourself to something you especially like.
BCRM offers a one-hour session of treatment support or counselling during every patient’s investigation stage, with a further three sessions available for each cycle of treatment they may have. Treatment support is available for up to six months after any treatment has finished, whatever the outcome. Further sessions, in addition to those just described, are available on a self-funding basis at £50 per session.
BCRM’s Patient Support is a confidential service available to all patients from their very first appointment. It is separate from patients’ medical investigations and treatments and can be accessed directly by contacting a Patient Advisor on 0117 259 1159, in person at the reception desk or by emailing contact@BCRM.clinic