Understanding how repeated stress can impact on your body can help you to move out of automatic pilot and become more aware of the symptoms before they escalate.
Step 2: Take Charge of your Mind–Body Fertility Health
Mindfulness increases our ability to recognize our stress triggers and respond rather than react to them. Increasing mindful aware- ness will help you to manage psychological, physiological and emotional fertility-related experiences in a calm and clear way. Incorporating mindfulness-based stress reduction for fertility skills, such as sitting meditations, the three-minute mindful check-in, the body scan, restorative yoga and mindful walking meditations, will enable the reader to feel empowered and deeply relaxed.
Step 3: Utilize the Healing Power of Journaling
Keeping a journal is both therapeutic and pragmatic. It offers a non-judgemental space in which to express difficult or repeated thoughts and emotions. This will help the reader to reflect on and overcome emotional blocks before moving forward with confidence. Journaling helps you to access your ‘wise mind’ – bringing balance to your emotional and reasoning self, important for any decision-making or healing process.
Step 4: Understanding Your Medical Treatment Choices
It is important to understand and gain the most from your treatment options and appreciate the short and longer-term implications of each treatment choice. This section also includes a suggested q&a section for meetings with consultants.
Step 5: Use Natural Health Therapies to Enhance Your Conception Chances
Whether choosing acupuncture, aromatherapy, naturopathy or biodynamic massage, complementary therapies have been shown to promote overall fertility health. Natural health therapy is key in supporting the physical process of fertility.
Step 6: Use Nutrition and Supplements to Boost Fertility
Making certain diet and lifestyle choices, as well as taking supple- ments with fertility-boosting nutrients, supports overall fertility health and can improve natural conception chances, as well as complementing assisted reproductive treatment.
Step 7: Balance Body and Mind with Restorative Yoga and Mindful Movement
Restorative yoga and mindful movement can reduce physical tension and the physiological impact of treatment as well as restore self-compassion by focusing on reconnecting your body and regaining our natural intuitive wisdom.
Step 8: Take a Solution-focused Approach to Mind Health
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based ther- apeutic approach that can help readers to recognize and change any thoughts or beliefs that do not support their fertility journey. The skills gained by integrating CBT can work towards improving the relationship with both ourselves and others, by increasing positive change in how you think and what you do to improve how you feel.
Step 9: Nurture Yourself and Communicate Your Needs Effectively
Taking care of our emotional well-being will provide the reader with the resources to move through their fertility issues with more ease and self-compassion. It is easy to get lost in the appoint- ments, injections and planning involved in fertility treatment. It is therefore important to refocus on other areas of life, nurturing, and self-care. Learning helpful communication and assertiveness skills will also benefit relationships, as well as ensuring the patient’s voice is heard in the consulting room.
Step 10: Enhance Your Relationship
We all respond differently to stressful situations. For some couples it brings them closer together as they gain a deeper empathy and understanding towards each other. For others, it creates a rupture in the relationship as hurt deepens into toxic resentment towards one another. By understanding our relationship blueprints, we can begin to foster healthier and more loving relationship styles. Incorporating nurturing and conflict- resolution exercises also contributes towards caring attitudes and behaviours in the relationship. Healing touch and mindfulness practice can encourage intimacy and friendship throughout the positive and more challenging times of fertility treatment.
Taking an integrative mind and body health approach to fertility places the reader back in the centre of their fertility process and ensures that they optimize their experience and restore equanimity throughout their unique fertility journey.
Ann Bracken is currently a Fertility Counsellor & Psychotherapist at world-renowned London fertility clinic, The Lister Fertility Clinic, which is part of The Lister Hospital. She previously worked as a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist and Fertility Counsellor in SIMS IVF (2011-14), Ireland's largest fertility clinic, and has had many years' experience working within national health settings (UK and Ireland) as a Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist (CBT) and Mindfulness-Based Therapist. Ann qualified at Harvard University in Mind/Body Programme Training (specific to fertility support) under world-renowned psychologist and Mind/Body Programme pioneer, Dr Alice Domar, who is Director of Mind/Body Services at Boston IVF, and is contributing a foreword to this book. In addition, nutritionist and women's health expert Marilyn Glenville is contributing a chapter on nutrition and will give the book support on her website www.marilynglenville.com
Ann also runs an international online Fertility Counselling and Psychotherapy service at www.fertilitycounsellingonline.com