A long fertility journey is the pits, I’ve been there. So while most people will naturally fall pregnant within the first two years of trying (with the average being just 8 months), if you’re reading my IVF relaxation techniques, I’m guessing you’ve got straight for in vitro fertilisation or you’ve been trying to get pregnant for quite a while…
So I won’t sugar coat it…its TOUGH
The longer it takes to get pregnant, the more it seems to consume your mind, and the more it consumes your mind, the more you think about it…and the more you think about it…well…you wake up one morning and wonder what ‘normal’ YOU has gone!
And IVF demands even more…
Months of appointments, bills, endless hormone shots, blood work, scans, and the waiting game. And it’s so much, that feeling moody, tiered, wrung out or stressed is considered ‘normal’…
In fact, studies have shown that women struggling to get pregnant experience the same levels of stress as women battling cancer, suffering with heart disease or AIDS. And although these studies don’t acknowledge the diversity of people struggling with fertility, it’s safe to say that everyone, whatever their gender or identity can find the IVF journey challenging. So mindset matters.
The easier you can make it inside your head, the easier you will make it outside your head – Richard Bandler, neuro-linguistic programming
So keep reading because my website is full of fertility hypnotherapy tips and guides to help…and this list is perfect if you want some ways to relax during IVF
Infertility is stressful
And words matter. Did you know that some studies show that countries that use the word MENOPAUSE have higher levels of menopausal symptoms? Crazy huh? So what effect could the words infertility or infertility treatment have?
So just incase, I won’t use that word again.
I prefer fertility journey and fertility treatment. Or at a push TTC which unlike inf*******y is less likely to poke at your stress response.
And while stress can’t STOP you getting pregnant it can make your journey to conception longer.
And research suggests that during the critical embryo implantation phase of in vitro fertilisation, stress (or rather, the inability to subconsciously relax) can possibly even expel the embryo out of the uterus…
And while relaxing through IVF like a spa day might sound impossible…learning the mind-body geekery to switch off and relax …just might help…
Or maybe you’re not worried about fertility…?
Maybe you instinctively KNOW you’ll get pregnant.
But even when we feel good, the mind can still start to cause a few problems…so almost as soon as you start thinking about something, the mind starts wondering about it. Some of my fertility clients just want tools for the medical procedures, want help with needle phobias or just want to prepare for how they might feel …on implantation day or coping with the two week wait… even if everything has been fine up until now.
Find out what works, and do more of that – Steve de Shazer
So learning how to relax during IVF is a good idea…
It can help calm the nervous system, and slow down an over active mind. Help you sleep more deeply…
IVF relaxation techniques can help calm your breathing rate, promote your parasympathetic hormones, send nutrient rich oxygenated blood flows freely around your body, uterus included, relax your muscles and help your heart rate steady.
And feeling prepared feels good!
Hey, I’m Steph
I’m an online clinical hypnotherapist in Oxford, UK and fertility hypnotherapy is my baby. My clients recognise the power of their mindset and emotions in helping them get pregnant, stay mentally healthy and they want a more empowered journey.
So I’m sharing some fertility hypnosis and relaxation techniques that can help.
This list is a whopper, so save it via my Pinterest page and use the helpful navigation menu below.
From waiting room to medical room you’ll find a technique for everything!
Use your own judgement as to what to use, and when and practice, practice, practice!
- Learn to breath
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Quiet mind Meditation
- IVF Hypnosis
- Safe Place
- Shake it out
- Talk it out
- Get Therapy
- Connect with nature
Please note – not all these relaxations are suitable for use DURING fertility therapy, some may be more suitable than others for the long waits before hand, and the super gentle ‘take it easy’ two week wait.
1. Learn to breathe
Breath is like the window to the mind, so whether you feel tense or relaxed, it will show in the way you breath. And whilst we all know how to breath, using the breath to create calm is a bit different, and it’s particularly helpful during fertility treatments, pregnancy tests and of course, implantation.
Mind leads to body & body leads to mind
It’s a communication thing!
So when the mind feels tension, the body follows with tension. And when the body feels tension, the mind follows with tension…it’s part of our survival response!
And whilst most people spend their busy lives with shoulders tense and breath too short…telling body and mind that there is a reason to be worried… When you’re trying for a baby, it’s more helpful to feel safe, calm and relaxed!
And it’s as easy as focusing on your breath
Long, calm IN breaths tell body and mind that all is well and that you are safe (calm is not how we run from danger!)
Long, calm OUT breaths not only send relaxing waves of the hormone Oxytocin, they stimulate the vagus nerve as well. This increases the vagal tonne, activating the brain-gut axis, which in turns sends a positive message of calm down through your body.
Any breathing exercises you’ve learnt in fertility yoga, mindfulness or meditation will work along the same basic principle!
How to breath:
- Slow down your breathing and relax your shoulders
- Count 1-3 on the in breath and 1-5 on the out breath
- Focus your attention on your breath
- If your mind drifts and it will! notice without judgement, then bring your attention back to your breath
- Optional – Breath in love, breath out tension
For something more advanced, try 1-5 and 1-8 or even 1-7 and 1-11 the “7-11 breathing technique”!
Your calm breaths will naturally relax you, and the counting helps switch off the fight/flight/freeze mechanism…
It’s why hypnotherapists count you into hypnosis!
2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Possibly the quickest way to relax during fertility treatment, but don’t be put off by the simplicity of this one! Here’s why:
Our natural response to pain (physical or emotional) is the guard response – we tense and move away – it’s the freeze in the fight/flight/freeze response!
Whether you’ve felt yourself flinch at a blood test, found your body tensing before a medical exam or felt so nervous at an appointment you couldn’t speak? It’s all because of the freeze response!
And progressive muscle relaxation is the opposite of freeze!
Tip: PMR vs Body Scan…
Similar to a body scan, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is widely used in hypnotherapy and hypnosis because we associate down with relaxation e.g. calm down, settle down, wind down. But the body scan which is more common in mindfulness scans up which helps maintain awareness.
How to do PMR:
Imagine your whole body relaxing from the top of your head, right down to the tips of your toes…like a wave of warmth and comfort is sweeping through you.
- Start at the top of your head, slowly moving down to your toes
- Focus on each main part of your body individually as you go down
- Notice any tension and let it go
And because this is a fertility relaxation, you might like to imagine your uterus! e.g.
- Imagine your uterine lining so warm, soft & nutrient rich
- The longitudinal muscles that form the main bag of the uterus, gently calm and relaxed
Or skip the uterus all together is you want a break from fertility!
3. Quieten mind meditation
Notice your thoughts and allow them to pass…and 2 things will happen:
- Your mind will move OUT of it’s busy beta brain waves – your minds busy, actively thinking and/or anxious state
- Your mind will move INTO it’s relaxing alpha brain waves – in which you start to let your mind positively drift
As you learn to be aware of your thoughts, noticing them without judgement, and you will be able to notice them for what they are…
Thoughts about fertility and conception, that when you sit back and notice, are just thoughts and not fact. Now you’ll find it easy to focus on fact:
e.g. “I’m sitting in a fertility treatment room” is fact, “I’ll never get pregnant” is not
N.B if your mind feels too busy for this, start with journaling or progressive muscle relaxation. In time, journalling will help adjust your relationship with your worries and PMR is the easiest way to create calm!
How to Quiet your Mind:
- Close your eyes (it gives you one less thing to think about)
- Focus your attention on your breath, noticing your first 3 breaths
- Notice any thoughts as they enter your mind, just observing them
Label your thoughts:
- There’s a thought about pregnancy
- There’s a thought about IVF
- There’s a thought about the future
And you might like to label them as positive or negative… it’s a trick that can help you distance yourself from the negative ones.
When you need to, just bring your attention back to your breath.
Journalling about your fertility journey is a quiet and restful way to process thoughts and let your inner most subconscious feelings flow, before stepping away and coming back with a fresh eye.
And writing things down has an uncanny way of letting them go…as though you are delegating your thoughts!
The secret is to relax and just go with the flow.
How to Fertility Journal:
Find a quiet moment to sit with a note pad and pen and write down any thoughts or discomforts you have about getting pregnant.
You can start with something like “My fertility feels…” or “Fertility for me is like…” and write down any thoughts that follow.
The trick with expressive writing is to just keep writing. Even if your thoughts don’t feel relevant at first, it soon may. As you continue to write focus on your feelings around fertility and conception or anything else that comes up.
Fertility journaling is a process that can lead to better self understanding and freedom from limiting beliefs.
5. IVF Hypnosis
A 2006 study by E.Levitas concluded that IVF hypnosis doubled the success rate of embryo implantation from 14% to 28% and while having a hypnotherapist with you during implantation might sound a bit weird, the good news is you don’t have to.
But is fertility hypnosis better than relaxation?
Hypnosis is a deeply relaxing state of focused awareness, and while normal relaxation can take you into your normal restful state of alpha brain waves, hypnosis takes you one step deeper, into theta brain waves.
Hypnosis feels like the perfect relaxation should!
How to do IVF Hypnosis:
IVF Hypnosis is a 4 week programme in which you learn to hypnotise yourself ready for your implantation date. Start early enough, and you will be able to use hypnosis during harvesting as well!
What does it involve? That depends on you, so we will talk through everything before you start. But some of the core elements are:
- Eye fixation to closure
- Tuning in and tuning out
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Induction into Hypnosis
- Hypnosis Anchoring
- Creating your own ‘safe space‘
- Creating a space for your baby
- Memory Walk
- Stress release
- Fear release
- Glove anaesthesia (to numb pain or discomfort with your mind)
Taking the time to learn IVF hypnosis is more powerful than listening to relaxation tracks or even ‘hypnosis’ MP3s.
IVF Hypnosis is the difference between seeing your best self and BEING your best self.
6. Safe Place
Also known as your good place or special pace the safe place is used within hypnotherapy to help you reconnect with a time and place that you already associate as being pleasant. It‘s a hypnosis anchor. It’s often used as part of a memory walk during IVF hypnosis and its useful for replacing anxiety with a deep feeling of comfort and wellbeing, and acceptance rather than tension.
And you already know how to do it!
Have you ever cast your mind back to a favourite holiday or a special place? Like a beautiful beach you’ve been to, a wooded glade or a leafy park? Or maybe it’s indoors, like a luxury spa or a cosy cottage?
When you think of this place you start to feel the way you did when you were there, warm, relaxed, happy, content. And as you think about it the memories flow and the feelings grow…
So when you have a favourite place, each time you remember it, it evokes wonderful emotions and the connection grows…until you can feel that good…anywhere…anytime..with a single thought
How to find your safe place:
Take these few minutes just for you and…
- Make yourself comfortable
- Close your eyes & focus on your breath
- Bring to mind a place that you associate with relaxation and wellbeing
- Perhaps somewhere you have been, or somewhere you would like to go
- Imagine all the beautiful details, including what you can see, feel, hear & smell
- Notice what you notice as you imagine yourself there
- Then have a good stretch when you finish
Once you have chosen your special place, each time you remember it, let it evoke good emotions and feel the connection grow…until you can feel this peaceful…anywhere…anytime…
The 54321 Technique
This 54321 technique can be used to find quiet and focus during times of extreme stress or fear. And it’s so good its widely used in trauma therapy…but don’t let that put you off, it’s a gem!
Remember breathing? I said the sequencing helped with fear and worry? The same principle applies here and this technique is even better at drawing you in, if you need to up your game.
And don’t confuse this with the similar technique I use in Hypnobirthing – this one is different.
How to do 54321:
Only do this when you are nicely seated, it is most effective when you can open and close your eyes.
- With eyes open name 5 things you can see
- Close your eyes
- Name 5 things you can hear
- Name 5 things you can feel
- Repeat from the top but counting to 4
- Repeat again counting to 3, then 2, then 1
How still is your mind now? Is that like MAGIC or what?!?!!
8. Shake it Out
Definitely not one for the 2 week wait when you need to be Super Careful. But perfect – when safe to do so – when you want to let your frustrations of fertility go…!
And this good old fashioned adrenaline dump feels like heaven on a stick, as you Shake it Out!…
When mammals run away from danger and successfully get to safety, they drop all their adrenaline by spontaneously shaking…they literally shake it out! But although it works for humans as well, we don’t tend to do it. So if it feels safe and sensible for you to do this, then give it a try – you’ll be amazed by how good it feels! And yes, you can absolutely do this in private.
How to Shake it out:
This is as easy as a full body ‘shake it out’ to let go of stress, tension and worries.
So just stand up (if you can) and have a wiggle:
Arms, legs, waist, shoulders and let it all go! The more you do this, the less self conscious you’ll be and the better you’ll feel.
And it feels so good!!
6. Talk it out
Talk to someone who cares. As the saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved. But choose the right person, like family or friends who truly care, or a professional.
But avoid the people who don’t understand, can’t empathise and can’t keep things to themselves. Avoid the people who’d rather talk about themselves, the negative nellies and the hopelessly hopeful. And definitely avoid the people who don’t have time…because anyone can make time…if they want to.
How to Talk:
If in doubt, start with “I feel”. No one can ever argue with that!
Fertility treatments can be draining, so talk and how you feel, how you’ve coped, what you’re pleased to have noticed about yourself but take time to talk about fluff as well…
Inconsequential language, i.e. talking about nonsense, like who’s wearing what colour this season, what your dog did on Saturday or anything else that gives your brain a well earned break has as many benefits as everything else listed here!!
And be sure to find a trusted friend, councillor or Online Hypnotherapist – someone who’ll listen and let you be heard.
10. Get help
Depression is a recognised problem during IVF so you may be offered counselling as part of you treatment. But if counselling leaves you feeling talked out Hypnotherapy might the answer.
Talking to someone external can feel like a breath of fresh air. A fertility hypnotherapist (like me) will be able to help you re-find your balance, create space in your mind, reduce anxiety or whatever else you’d like help with. And because I am solution focused, you can expect to feel better after each session.
Hypnosis is a deeply relaxing, guided state in which the frontal, positive areas of the mind become active and with your critical faculties (that negative voice) quieter, it’s easier to achieve the positive outcomes you want.
11. Connect with nature
I’ve been helping people with fertility for donkeys years and everyone seems to appreciate the benefit of self care – going to the gym, yoga classes, pilates…but rarely do new clients talk about getting out doors…
But getting out into nature feels like the purest form of self care. From feeling the air against your skin, the temperature of the breeze, the kisses of the sun, the sounds around you and even the transitions of light.
How to connect with nature:
Take a walk in your favourite outdoor space, maybe a park or woodland?
Put your phone away and don’t be tempted to check it, if it was important they would have made the effort to call.
This time is for you.
So take time to breath in the fresh air, notice the sky, the wonders of nature around you, from the birds to the leaves and all the sounds, even the sound of your steps.
Remind yourself that you are a part of nature, and it is a part of you.
If you find yourself talking to mother nature, or noticing hopeful signs from spirit, you might like to read my favourite 7 ways to manifest getting pregnant.
This is clearly not one for during treatment or immediately after implentation but exercise is known to enhance mental health, gut health (your second brain), the enteric nervous sytstem. And BOY does it help your endorphines flow!
Plus when you do get pregnant, you’ll be glad you used your ‘me time’ while you could.
How to exercise:
I’m sure we don’t need to do this but fertility yoga is fabulous, so is Tai Chi. Pilates is great if you like a bit more work and so is swimming. And walking is the simplest and easiest of all.
And if you are an exercise procrastinator, a little brain hack is to make a plan. Decide what you will do and when. Get everything ready in advance and put it in your diary. Tell your partner you are doing and pay for the class in advance (unless you’re walking!). Exercise is one of those things that if you put off, you’ll feel worse, but once done, you’ll feel on top of the world.
Always wear warm socks! Warm drinks and warm foods too.
And if you want support, think your subconscious is blocking your fertility, want to reconnect with the real you, or just NEED a Hypnotherapist who gets FERTILITY?