Does Stress Matter When Trying To Make a Baby?
I find the entire conversation about the links between stress and conceiving a baby – frankly very stressful. And the advice changes like the weather in San Francisco: if you don’t like it just wait five minutes! And right now, stress reduction and conception is becoming big business. Lots of fertility clinics are investing in meditation tapes and yoga programs to help their patients chill in the hopes of boosting pregnancy rates. So does it help? Does it matter at all? Can you conceive a baby while you are stressing out over it? Or do you need to strike a yoga pose and learn to OM?
Let’s look at couples who are under going fertility treatments at a clinic. There is a recent report which is based on a review of previous studies, which investigated whether anxiety or depression affect the chances of becoming pregnant after a single cycle of fertility treatment, such as IVF. In this review, they looked at 14 studies in 3,583 women from 10 different countries, and combined their results to draw their conclusions.
What the results of their analysis showed was that women who became pregnant after the treatment cycle did not differ significantly in levels of anxiety or depression before their treatment than women who did not become pregnant. Does that mean that all of this stress relieving yoga, meditation, acupuncture and counseling aimed at reducing anxiety is just a waste of time? Or should we look at it another way – is this study reassuring that all of the emotional upset of fertility problems, and the stress of treatment itself should not damage our chances of becoming pregnant on a given cycle? And that by adding in all of these additional support systems that we are simply helping our bodies and our minds survive the infertility experience (which is huge) outside of the added benefit of helping us to conceive?
This study carried out by researchers from Cardiff University and the University of Thessaloniki, Greece – and didn’t receive any funding was published in the peer review British Medical Journal – is in my opinion very reassuring to most people trying to conceive.
Let’s face it. Anxiety and it’s kissing cousin Stress are simply uncomfortable feelings to walk around with all the time and generally speaking – are not very good for our over all health. As far as baby making goes, I also know that I conceived both of my boys during the most terrifying part of my life – facing infertility. I love this study. It will help some of us stop stressing over whether or not our stress is hurting our chances of making a baby!
I also think that reducing the stress levels in our bodies through fertility yoga, guided meditation, and getting additional support through early at home fertility testing in the early days of trying to conceive can also be stress busters. It’s also – as well as other means simply makes good sense for our over all health,keeping our sanity, and our ability to emotionally survive infertility and continue in treatment long enough to conceive.
So….release the guilt and self blame AND strike a meditative pose!
|Pamela Madsen was the first Executive Director of RESOLVE NYC and is the Founder of The American Fertility Association. Pamela is an internationally known fertility advocate who has appeared on Oprah and countless other major media outlets. Currently, Pamela is a fertility coach and publisher of The Fertility Advocate. She is also a blogger for Psychology Today and SpermCheck Fertility.