Lara Fetting from North Ridgeville, Ohio, remembers all too well how difficult it was to stay positive during preconception. It took her only five months to conceive with her first child, but it took over a year with her second. "Combating negative thinking is hard," she says. "I think the hardest part is ignoring negative people—like my male coworker who asked if my husband was shooting blanks—and trying not to get discouraged when everyone it seems gets pregnant or knows someone who got pregnant the first time they tried. And they all love to tell you about it. I found Web boards a good place to blow off steam and get encouragement. Hearing other people discuss the same frustrations helped a lot."
The Challenge of Staying Positive
Dr. Andrea Mechanick Braverman, a psychologist and director of psychological and complementary care for Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey, believes it is very difficult to stay positive while trying to conceive. "It is very easy to get negative when trying to conceive," she says. "We all carry around our own beliefs about how easy it will be to get pregnant. Many of us believe that you simply stop birth control, and you instantly get pregnant. Contrast with the fact that the average woman only has a 20 to 25 percent chance to get pregnant—less if she's older—and many will be disappointed and maybe even a bit worried with their first try. For those having problems conceiving, there is the monthly cycle of disappointment and hope which can really wear you down."
Women often protect themselves from this preconception emotional roller coaster by anticipating the worst while they are trying to conceive. This can lead to a decreased desire to get pregnant and/or depression.
The Importance of Staying Positive
Dr. Carrie Jones , a naturopathic physician specializing in women's heath at Northwest Gynecology Associates in Hillsboro, Oregon, believes that staying positive is vital for a woman's physical and emotional well-being. "Staying positive reinforces to your body healthy thoughts and emotions," she says. "Positive thinking attracts positive actions into one's life. Negativity is a stress on the body, and stress hormones really play into the role of fertility. It's the idea of fight or flight. Our bodies weren't designed to become pregnant while running from the saber toothed tiger way back when. Now, the tiger has changed into job stress, money stress, family stress, unhealthy lifestyle stress, and even negative emotion stress. When conception becomes stressful the body recognizes that as a 'fight or flight' emotion and reacts accordingly."
Dr. Jones believes that if the emotions running through a woman's body are ones of frustration, anger, hopelessness, blame, and sadness then that's what you're going to get. Combating negativity and staying positive during preconception, even through assisted reproductive therapy (ART), can go a long way in keeping your stress levels down. Holistic thought believes that keeping your stress levels down can make pregnancy more likely.
5 Tips for Combating Negative Thoughts
Dr. Jones gives the following tips on combating negative thinking while trying to conceive:
- Take time for yourself every day. Even if it's five or 10 minutes where you put your feet up and zone out, it allows your body a quick recharge. When your life centers around trying to conceive the focus changes to the end result instead of the process. Don't forget you are a part of the process, and it's important you remain healthy, clear, and balanced.
- Journaling is very important. It gets those negative emotions out of your head and allows you to check in with yourself about what is going on and then how you can flip it around to the positive.
- If you are having a hard time staying positive during preconception, then put up note cards with positive words and phrases on them. At least you will read them and your brain will take note of them several times a day. Place one on your bathroom mirror, on your computer, in your car, taped to the back of your cell phone, etc. Repeat them aloud or in your head. Use words such as "create," "beautiful," "healthy body," "balanced," "normal cycle," "healthy eggs and sperm," "healthy cervical fluid," "regular ovulation." Try phrases such as "I am a healthy woman." "My uterus and ovaries are ready to create a baby." "My partner and I are wonderful parents." Try using any word or phrase that makes you smile when you see them.
- Don't forget about date night. Another way to enjoy the preconception process is to re-create courting. Surprise each other with little gifts or cards. Go out to dinner, catch a movie, drink sparkling cider under the stars. It's OK to have sex on your non-fertile days if you need to release some pressure!
- Eliminate the negativity around you. Connect with positive people, read positive books, watch happy, positive movies. Don't let negative people or images drag you down while you're trying to conceive. Create healthy boundaries and buy yourself a "no" button. It's OK to say "no" and put yourself first.