When I became pregnant after my first attempt at IVF, people were quick to offer me encouragement. It was assumed that my level of fitness, reasonable diet, and lower body weight had somehow influenced my success. Although it is very easy to be self-congratulatory, my two biggest “secrets” were my low maternal age and my doctor, who had used a high amount of hormonal intervention.
In the months leading up to transfer, my body was pumped with self-injected blood thinners and I took numerous hormones and steroids. Many of these medications continued up until the 12th week of my pregnancy. As you can imagine, I felt (and looked) like I had been ridden hard and put up wet. The exhaustion and physical pain in those early days was overwhelming.
A few weeks before the transfer, I decided to visit a massage therapist. I found one locally – Blossoms and Honeybees – who specialises in pre-IVF massage and continued pregnancy treatment. Some of the benefits of this treatment include:
- Increased blood flow throughout the body
- Relaxation and muscle support
- Wellbeing and stress management
- Something to look forward to that distracts from the anxiety of the two-week-wait!
I will stress that although a regular massage in a shopping centre is a great treat, what I am describing here is a therapist who has specialised qualifications in IVF-tailored massage therapy. It will cost you more than the guy behind the curtain, but I believe it is worth it if you benefit from massage.
As well as being excellent for my body, my massage therapist has also given strategies I can take home for dealing with swelling, poor sleep caused by discomfort, and even the Brisbane heat. Many of the suggestions revolve around foods or drinks that can be incorporated to alleviate various symptoms. I especially appreciated this when the swelling from steroids reached its peak, right before my wedding.
Massage therapy is also covered under my ‘extras’ in private health, so it can be worth checking if you have access to this. Like anything, it is good to gain benefit where you can with health insurance. Your own wellbeing and stress management throughout pregnancy and IVF is as important as eating well or taking pregnancy supplements.
It is an investment, but one I would certainly recommend in managing the stress and discomfort that IVF brings!