A fertility setback can really bring you down. Whether you struggle to fall pregnant and feel disappointment every month or you’ve experienced pregnancy loss, and you don’t know how to move forward, these challenges can feel overwhelming. And it’s easy to feel alone and like the world is against you when hope doesn’t seem to feature on your horizon. Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula to end your despondency or give you the answers, but there are some ways I believe you can utilise to help you move forward positively after a fertility setback.
Written by Guest Blogger: Nicola Headley, a qualified Midwife, Health Visitor and a Fertility Coach
Why should you look after your mental health after a fertility setback?
It’s always important to look after your mental health, but when you have the added challenge of trying to conceive or recover after pregnancy loss, you need to look after yourself as a priority. It’s easy to focus on nothing else but having a baby, but then it becomes all-consuming and affects every area of your life.
During your fertility journey, it’s essential to tune into your feelings and notice what makes you feel better and what doesn’t. Because when your emotional reserves are low, you will have less capacity to deal with stress, anxiety or difficult situations in other areas of your life. You need to feel as resilient and emotionally strong as possible.
This leads me on to my first way to help you move forward after a fertility setback:
1. Allow your feelings
Previous loss can impact your feelings about a future pregnancy. Often, it’s impossible to know how something really feels until you experience it. For example, we know miscarriage is real and common, but perhaps many of us don’t know its true pain until we experience it ourselves. And if it’s happened to you in the past, there can be a so much fear that it will happen again.
Give yourself the time and space you need to rebalance after a fertility setback. Feel the feelings instead of supressing them. It’s normal to feel grief, sadness, fear, stress, anxiety, anger even. You’re not wrong, overreacting or bad for feeling whatever you’re feeling.
2. Prioritise what you need
Whatever brings even a moment of calm or joy into your life at such a difficult time will be a great help. Maybe yoga, exercise, meditation, taking a bath, reading a book, whatever it is for you, choose to make that a priority each day. Or keep a journal as writing down your feelings can be so cathartic. It can help you unburden anger, loss, jealousy, or whatever emotions you’re feeling. No one ever has to see it, but it’s your private outlet for releasing your inner feelings of frustration.
Or be prepared for moments of worry or anxiety by having a friend ready to call or go out for a walk. Find the right thing you can use for escapism and stress relief. There’s a lot of power in having a toolkit of things you know you can dip into during a wobbly moment, which is reassuring and will help you get back to a good place
3. Don’t blame yourself.
What you’re going though is not your fault and you don’t deserve any of it. After setbacks we can lose hope in the future and we can explore answers to the questions “why me?” In the same way with pregnancy loss we can search for answers as to why it happened. All too often though, there are no answers to these questions, so we resort to self-criticism and self-blame. “I must have done something wrong”.
Please show yourself the same kindness you would to someone else going through this. What you’re going through now is not because of anything that happened in the past. And there’s nothing you could’ve done differently to change this outcome. So please remember this is not your fault.
4. Talk to someone
Fertility setbacks and pregnancy loss often come with secrecy, so others may not know about your situation or will not understand it. This can feel like people lack empathy or care, but it might be that they don’t understand the grief or impact or don’t know the words to offer to help you.
You might find comfort in speaking to a loved one or someone else you trust, but often talking to someone you’re close to means they might be too emotionally involved to help you, or they don’t understand what you’re going through. That’s why a Fertility Coach knows what you’re going through and offers practical advice and tips to help you cope at such a challenging time in your life.
5. Be selfish and find your people
You’ve been through a lot, your emotions have been challenged, and you may even feel that your body has let you down, so it’s okay to put yourself first.
Whether this means surrounding yourself with the right people who make you feel good (or don’t upset you) or being alone when you need to, do what works for you. For example, if someone constantly talks about their pregnancy or asks why you aren’t pregnant, they may not be the best person to spend time with. Equally, it may be challenging to spend time with a pregnant friend, and that’s okay too.
Spend time with those who understand your situation; this might be in the form of support forums or talking to a friend who struggled to conceive.
It’s so hard (sometimes it feels impossible) to keep picking yourself up from something you want so badly, but I hope you find ways that help you. It’s understandable that after loss, women often talk about being fearful of pregnancy never happening again but are equally as scared of being pregnant again and suffering another loss. Try to speak to someone (whoever that might be) who understands your worries and can help you unburden some of your fear and emotional heaviness. And if nothing else, don’t blame yourself and hold onto hope for the future.
And if this is too difficult and you feel you can’t pick yourself back up, I can help. My programmes, Bloom and Restore, will help you reduce stress and anxiety, increase positivity and empowerment, and boost your fertility. Both services offer 1:1 sessions and give you the space to feel heard and understood. And you’ll have me on hand to reassure you in the difficult moments so that if you’re feeling negative, I’ll be available to help you turn such feelings into something more positive and hopeful.
Nicola has been on her own difficult fertility journey. Her experience is what led her to support others with how they’re feeling during this emotionally painful time. Infertility takes over so many different areas of life. It affects our mental health, confidence, and feelings of self-worth. Which is why looking after how your feeling during this time is so important.
Nicola previously worked as a Midwife, Health Visitor and Birth Trauma Specialist.