The decision to start trying to become pregnant in and of itself can often be accompanied by a jumble of emotions such as happiness, apprehension, expectation, and hope. When conception doesn’t happen in the timeframe we expect or if there are complications, this can (and often does) lead to stress, anxiety, shame, and a whole roller coaster of emotions.
If one or both partners in a couple are experiencing these states, this then often leads to a strain on their relationship. With an estimated 1 in 6 couples in Australia experiencing infertility, and even more whose journey isn’t what they expected, that’s a lot of relationships potentially being affected.
It must be acknowledged that many couples find strength in each other and bring forth the resilience needed as they go through their journey. Sometimes both happen—there is support and a strain. Sometimes at different times on the journey and sometimes, as oxymoronic as it sounds, at the same time!
On the theme of dichotomies, supporting mental health the health of a relationship can be simple and yet, incredibly complex. What do I mean by that?
There are actions that most people can take that will support the foundations of healthy relationships, reduce stress, and uplift emotional states. I’ll list some of those below. However, each person and every couple is unique and may benefit from support from multiple professionals to ensure that they are getting a targeted approach that best works for them.
So what are some of the basics that you as an individual and you as a couple can do to strengthen your relationship and your own mental wellbeing? Here are some tips we’ve seen at The Fertility Pod can be helpful while going through the fertility journey.
- Keep doing fun activities together: go out for (healthy) dinners, see shows, watch comedy, take walks together, be silly. Remember that conceiving is not the only thing that brings the two of you together.
- Keep moving: research shows again and again that movement and exercise reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Have hobbies: it’s easy to get tunnel vision on fertility and trying to become pregnant, but remember that you can still enjoy life! Ask yourself: what brings me joy, lightness, and that soul-nourishment?
- Surround yourself with people who are supportive: sometimes well-meaning friends and family demand updates, give unending unsolicited advice, and put pressure on your journey. Find those people who both give you space and who are there for you.
- Breathing exercises: this deceptively simple tool has been shown to transform one’s state of mind, reduce stress levels, and improve health throughout the body.
- Acupuncture: receiving acupuncture can help calm and balance the nervous system. We find that when couples come in for acupuncture together they end up laughing, relaxing, opening up, and enjoying the bonding experience.
- Nutrition: it’s easy to want to reach for the foods that give you that hit in the moment (hello sugar!), but building habits around healthy eating can make a big difference in energy levels (including libido!).
- Have fun with sex: don’t forget the playful enjoyment of your intimacy.
At The Fertility Pod we recommend to clients that if you are struggling with mental health or relationship challenges, to utilise the help of psychologists or other mental health professionals. If you are going through IVF, take advantage of the counselling services available at your clinic.
And of course, if you ever want to talk, we are here to listen.