by Liat Hughes Joshi
After the stress of IVF treatment, a positive pregnancy test can seem a happy ending. But the reality is that IVF pregnancy often comes with its own set of additional challenges and concerns.
IVF Pregnancy – 7 Things You Need to Know
What do you need to be aware of and prepare for when it comes to your IVF success story?
1. An energy crash.
IVF is a physically exhausting process, and a rollercoaster of expectations. After the joy of the good news, you might feel emotionally exhausted.
It’s even normal to suddenly feel terrified about what happens next. Somehow, in all the worry about getting pregnant, there’s been no time to worry about pregnancy itself. Some women might even not want to engage with the idea that they are pregnant.
2. Heightened fears of miscarriage.
When you’ve had to go through so much to get this far, it’s understandable that fears of miscarriage can be heightened. Plus there’s the concern that should you miscarry, you might find it harder than other women to get pregnant again.
So it’s extremely commonplace to switch your anxiety about whether you’ll ever get pregnant to whether you will stay pregnant for the full term.
You can find yourself:
- wondering what every small ache or pain might be
- over analysing every sensation you feel in your uterus
- constantly visiting the loo to check there is no bleeding (although note that very small amounts of bleeding can be normal)
- concerned that anything you do could trigger miscarriage – worrying about carrying a bag, having sex, exercising, something you’ve eaten.
3. Worries about harming your IVF baby’s growth or health.
Many mums-to-be are rightly concerned about which lifestyle changes might help or hinder their future baby’s growth and development.
Considering sensible adjustments, such as adopting a healthier diet, is undoubtedly a positive.
But there are many anxiety-inducing old wives’ tales, myths and unscientific ideas about pregnancy out there. They can trigger additional stress.
4.Feeling guilty when complaining of pregnancy discomforts.
You have jumped over so many hurdles for so long to get pregnant. It’s tempting to think you should spend the entire nine months in a state of unbridled joy.
Of course the realities of morning sickness, tiredness, stretch marks and more are just the same for you as anyone who conceived without IVF.
There’s no obligation to be constantly positive about the trickier aspects of pregnancy. Complaining occasionally doesn’t mean you want your baby any less.
5.Pressuring yourself to be 100% happy in the first weeks and months of your IVF baby’s life.
Caring for a new baby can be exhausting, stressful, lonely and wonderful in turn, no matter how your child was conceived.
This might not be that perfect phase you imagined it to be. And you might not even fall in love with your baby straight away.
And an IVF success story does not make you immune to post-natal depression or negative thinking, where you even wonder if having a baby was the right thing to do at all.
Go easy on yourself. Have realistic expectations and seek support if you’re feeling overwhelmed or persistently low. Talk to your partner, family, friends or a professional, such as your health visitor or a counsellor.
5. Experiencing jealousy towards other parents.
It’s very common and understandable to feel envious of friends or family members who became pregnant relatively easily, or have had as many children as they wanted.
These thoughts don’t necessarily go away after IVF success. You might still feel jealous of how much less stressful their journey to parenthood was, or how they have choices you don’t have.
7. Feeling the strain on your relationship.
Pregnancy and parenthood are a time of great change for any couple. For IVF parents there can be added stress. If one of you feels more anxious than the other about the baby, or is keener to try for another child? This can lead to relationship discord right when you long for connection.
Is IVF pregnancy overwhelming or your relationship? We connect you with London’s top psychotherapists and couples counsellors who can provide the support you need. Not in London? Use our booking platform to find UK-wide registered therapists or online therapy.
Still have a question about IVF pregnancy and IVF success? Or want to share your tips and experience? Use the comment box below.
photo by Andrew Crowley
Liat Hughes Joshi is a London-based journalist, author and commentator. She has written five parenting books including Raising Children (Pearson/ Prentice Hall) and 5-Minute Parenting Fixes (Summersdale). Find her at @liathughesjoshi on Twitter and Instagram.