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Once you have decided that you want to start a family, it is natural that you develop a new mindset. You will find that you become acutely aware of your cycle, and begin to contemplate the impacts that having a baby will have on all aspects of your life.

You may also find yourself seeking out information and taking more notice of others around you who may be pregnant or have young children – as you begin to try and visualise yourself as a parent, and imagine what life ahead might be like.

As time continues, you may begin to feel more frustrated if you don’t fall pregnant naturally over several months. Whilst comments by others telling you to ‘relax’ can be well meaning, for many this is easier said then done once you have made up your mind that you are ready to start a family.

Stressors that can arise when trying to conceive

Feelings of pressure and frustration can be compounded by others’ comments and what can seem like constant questioning. Worse still, others around you may be announcing that they are becoming pregnant – seemingly so easily and effortlessly. This can feel incredibly unfair, and it is natural that you may feel a little envious or jealous. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling this way – it is human nature. Acknowledge how you are feeling and be gentle on yourself.

Trying to become pregnant over time can put pressure on relationships also. Whilst intimacy was once spontaneous, over time and following unsuccessful attempts, it is likely to feel more pressured and become more calculated. Trying to remember and make time for things you both used to enjoy before trying to conceive, can help put focus back onto the relationship you have. It can also help strengthen the support that you can derive from each other at this time, when one or both of you may feel the need for more support.

It is important to remember that you are not alone. Try to be patient, and a little more flexible with your goals and timelines to take the pressure off yourself. Give it time, and talk to your health professional about how you can optimize your chances of success. Bare in mind too, that in today’s world there are a range of options that can help. I remember my obstetrician telling me at one stage – “don’t worry, there are plenty of big guns if we need to go there”. Focus on this at this point – that there are options.

Coping with Infertility

Discovering and coming to terms with infertility is yet another hurdle that many couples will have to face, and can lead to feelings of stress, anger and anxiety. Given these challenges it is understandable that the risk of women and men experiencing mental health problems is increased. Further, the process of going through treatments for infertility in itself can increase the level of stress, depression and anxiety – as well as impact upon your self-esteem and self-confidence. This is not only for women but also the case for men, particularly when they are experiencing fertility issues themselves.

Getting help

If you are emotionally struggling with infertility, the good news is that there are effective treatments available, which can help you to adjust and manage stress and possible depression and anxiety whilst undergoing treatment such as IVF. These treatments may include a range and/or combination of psychological and or medical treatments – and the type of treatment that is best for you will depend on a range of factors including your personal history and current status – including the nature and severity of symptoms that you may be experiencing.

Importantly, research has also shown that not only can these treatments be effective in improving your mood, but they have also been associated with positive IVF outcomes. Further, whilst some women may tend to want to avoid medical treatments (such as antidepressants), for fear that this may have a negative impact on her fertility, it is important to note that this is not substantiated by any research to date. Further, bare in mind that there are antidepressant medications that can be safely used in pregnancy, should you be successful.

For more information about looking after your health and wellbeing through the journey into parenthood visit cope.org.au.

By: Dr Nicole Highet

Founder and Executive Director

COPE: Centre of Perinatal Excellence

[email protected]

www.cope.org.au