Mindfulness And Infertility

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If you, or someone you love has experienced the challenge of infertility, you know that stress is often a large part of the process as well.

Learning how to manage stress more effectively may not only increase your chances for a successful pregnancy, but will prove to be a useful tool into parenthood and beyond. Mindfulness is one approach that has been widely researched and empirically validated to decrease stress and increase overall measures of health and wellbeing. Interestingly, mindfulness is also being folded into not just the process of treating infertility but also childbirth and parenting classes as well.

Mindfulness, a practice which cultivates a present-moment focused, compassionate awareness, helps one to manage stress more effectively by helping us to shift our relationship to the stressors in our lives. The good news is that the nature of infertility has a way of naturally increasing one’s mindfulness about certain things at least!

Chances are that as you embark on your endeavor to get pregnant, you will quite naturally place more awareness on your diet. This may include not just what you are eating more of (those good old fruits and veggies, vitamins, supplements, and maybe savoring a delicious piece of dark chocolate for dessert) but also perhaps making more conscious choices about what not to eat or consume as well (alcohol, highly processed foods, foods with excess sugar, etc.).

You may also turn more of your attention towards the natural timing and rhythms of your body so that you can utilize the window of highest fertility. Mindfulness may also increase around sex and intimacy with your partner, your body, and more broadly the desire to create life and enter into parenthood.

Unfortunately, while Mindfulness may grow quite spontaneously in some areas of life, the often all-consuming desire to become pregnant can impede our ability to be mindful in other areas. Often one becomes so focused on the sole goal of pregnancy that other intentions, goals, and relationships can get pushed to the background. Our vision becomes narrowed and our success becomes measured by a whole new kind of stick; one line or two, pregnant or not pregnant.

Mindfulness can assist us in taking back our attention, widening it again, helping to retain the choice of where our attention is in THIS moment. Instead of incessantly worrying about the outcome of a particular procedure, mindfulness allows one to acknowledge and label worry or anxiety and then hopefully shift our awareness to a more useful and productive place.

In a process that often feels out of one’s control, Mindfulness is a way of shifting our mind back into our control, quieting the “monkey mind” that often swings wildly from past to future, worry to regret and back again, until it hopefully finds its way back into the still spaciousness of the present moment.

To learn more about mindfulness and how it might help you and your partner through the process of infertility and beyond, please contact Shaylin Ebert, licensed marriage and family therapist at 408-933-8404, or via email at [email protected].