The embryo transfer marks a significant milestone in your fertility journey. The time between the initial embryo transfer and taking a pregnancy test is sometimes referred to as the ‘two week wait.’ Known as the luteal phase, these two weeks (roughly) are considered the final phase of the IVF treatments and would be equivalent to a non-stimulated 28-day cycle that happens between days 15 and 28.

At Concept, we understand that the waiting period following your embryo transfer can be one of the most overwhelming stages of the IVF process. In this article we provide some guidance on how to support your body and mind during this period.

What’s Happening in the Body?

After the transfer, the human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone is released by the embryo into the mother’s uterus. This secretion of hCG into the bloodstream generally doesn’t start until 24 hours after the completion of the implantation process. During this time, the hCG triggers the body to create more oestrogen and progesterone. The combination of these hormones help to thicken your endometrium and tell your body to stop menstruating, and the correct balance of these hormones sustains and supports the pregnancy.

Initially, hCG promotes the release of progesterone by the corpus luteum. Eventually, the placenta takes over the production of progesterone for the rest of the pregnancy (this generally occurs between weeks 7 and 12).

Here are our tips to embracing the time between the embryo transfer and the first pregnancy test:

Practice Mindfulness

Keeping yourself distracted can be the biggest obstacle during this time. A gentle reminder that Dr Google is in fact, not a medical expert and too much time obsessing on the internet or scrolling through social media can make the two-week wait feel like two months.

Instead, try meditation, yoga, journaling and guided breathing. These are powerful tools for centering your thoughts and bringing peace to your mind. If you aren’t yet a master of mindful techniques, you can start simple. Get your creativity flowing by painting or drawing, perfect a new recipe or make a calming playlist to listen to on a leisurely walk.

Peers, Peers, Peers

Lean on your partner, friends, family and/or fertility counsellor for support. Don’t be afraid to express your feelings. You may experience a rollercoaster of emotions during this time, and your support systems can help to validate your feelings and provide comfort.

Reaching out to other IVF patients on forums or support groups can help connect you with people who can relate to your situation. These groups are there to create communities and to share stories, but it’s important to keep in mind that even if you’re going through the same process, everyone’s experience, symptoms and emotions are unique.

Prioritise Health

Embracing healthy habits goes a long way when it comes to mental and physical well being. Ideally, you’ll want to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and foods rich in protein, vitamin B and iron. Fuelling your body with nutritious foods and eating a balanced diet will help support your body through this time.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated! Now is as good a time as ever to listen to the experts on the importance of drinking water. Drinking water throughout the day helps support blood flow to the endometrium so nutrients reach the embryo. We recommend investing in a drink bottle that you can keep on you at all times to encourage you to sip away all day.

Plan Out Your Medication Regime

Many women need to keep taking progesterone in the early weeks after the transfer to give their pregnancy the best chance to continue. Create a chart, reminder system for your daily medication regime. For added peace of mind, set a phone alarm or incorporate taking your medication into your meal time routine.

Post Transfer Symptoms

Your uterus is under pressure from the medications and your embryo. Some spotting, discharge, cramping or soreness is normal after an embryo transfer. Trying to read into every signal from your body can contribute to stress when chances are these symptoms are nothing to worry about. Accepting that your body is going through a lot, and redirecting your focus onto the things you can do to support it, can be very helpful during this time.

If you’re experiencing intense, persistent symptoms, reach out to your doctor for peace of mind.

Pamper Yourself

It’s normal to feel excitement, fear, anxiety or overwhelmed after your embryo transfer. Any emotions you experience are completely valid. You’ve just undergone a potentially life-changing procedure! Take it easy on your body and mind by relaxing with a good book, watching your favourite movie, putting on a face mask or taking a bath. Indulging in some self care activities can really help to regulate your emotions during this time.

Instead of wishing away the time between the embryo transfer and pregnancy, you can make the most of these days by practising mindfulness, healthy habits, spending time with loved ones and nurturing your body and mind.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, remember you are not alone. Concept Fertility Clinic is here to provide compassionate care and guidance throughout this time. You can make an appointment with your fertility counsellor at any time to help you manage any stress or uncertainty you’re experiencing.

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