From FIVClínic we send you specific recommendations for all of you who, at this time of the Covid-19 pandemic, are following an assisted reproduction treatment. The objective of these recommendations, backed by the Psychology interest group of the Spanish Fertility Society (SEF), is to advise you in order to face the exceptional pandemic situation that we are experiencing in better personal conditions.
Before starting with the recommendations, we would like to highlight why it is important that you read this post. First of all, we must remember that both the infertility diagnosis and its treatments are per se situations with a great emotional impact on the life cycle and that affect all spheres of life. Therefore, we are already starting from a situation unknown for many of us, which puts all our coping mechanisms on alert.
To this situation we must add the uncertainty of not knowing when or how the treatments of the assisted reproduction clinics and services will be resumed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thus, all these changes can generate emotions, thoughts and behaviors that do not help us to deal effectively with this critical situation. Or, even, that they do not favor our state of physical and emotional health, so important to achieve the success of assisted reproduction treatments.
● Patients who were going to start treatment or who had to postpone the start of a new cycle.
The objective is to take advantage of the waiting time trying to optimize our physical and emotional situation to be prepared to start a new treatment. For example, we can improve our eating habits, our rest, do exercise and meditate regularly. All these recommendations will help us better tolerate the effects of anxiety generated by the situation we are experiencing. Furthermore, they will have a beneficial effect on our hormonal system, reducing stress and anxiety. Therefore, we can understand this “forced” stop as a stop to gain momentum to reach our goal.
● Patients having started assisted reproduction treatment and had to vitrify eggs or embryos.
You have the challenge to keep yourself in a scenario of calm, serenity and optimism. This new situation was not expected neither desired for anyone. Once the first impact has passed and we have begun to adapt to the “new reality” we can take advantage of this time to enjoy those things that we had left in the background because of the IVF treatment. Specially all those things that made you feel fine in the past and can benefit you now. Of course, they must adapt to confinement at home (hobbies, courses or pending readings, resume some relaxing physical activity such as yoga or pilates, have more contact with friends and family…).
The message is to focus our energies on what we can currently manage and what makes us feel better. Even consider confinement with a moment of personal and emotional growth, which helps us to acquire serenity to face the next treatment.
● Patients waiting for the “beta Test” or pregnants.
The objective is to follow the recommendations of health organizations to avoid infections and maintain the safety of all citizens. We still have a lot to know about the behavior of the virus. First, at present there is no evidence that pregnant women are at higher risk of severe illness than the general population. Therefore, there is no reason to be distressed. We recommend continuing with self-protection measures. And, as far as possible, maintaining a proactive state of mind, thinking positive and taking advantage of this time to take good care of yourself.
Finally, some psycho-emotional suggestions to promote behaviors that help maintain optimal mood and emotional well-being:
● Build your resilience.
Resilience is the ability of human beings to adapt positively to adverse situations. We can take this time of confinement as a time of passivity and feel like passive victims facing the situation. Or, on the contrary, living it as a life learning opportunity. An opportunity that involves personal growth and makes us feel active being ready before things happen. This process is based on the idea that we cannot control what happens. But we can choose to try to control how we respond to situations. How can we do it?
So, for example, we can set small daily or weekly goals. We can avoid transmitting negative messages, prioritize other topics of conversation beyond the Covid-19, maintain routines or a schedule, dedicate quality time to family routines…
● Encourage positive thinking.
Focusing our attention on the positive aspects that surely this situation also entails. For example, thinking about people’s solidarity, creativity, individual and collective initiatives that have emerged to overcome this crisis. How can we do it?
Repeat positive self messages. Remembering how we overcome other crisis. Keeping our body and mind active, practicing meditations, visualizing happy memories or future projects to develop…
● Relax and distract yourself.
Learn or delve into the technique that you like or that works for you to relax: deep breaths, yoga, meditation, activities or movements that make us feel good. You can also try to relax through physical exercise, especially if your confinement is preventive.
Use your sense of humor. Humor is an emotion that will help you reduce anxiety and keep fear (another emotion) at bay.
● Focus on the positive aspects.
Take advantage of this moment to stop and reflect on your priorities and the next steps you want to take. For example, you can value the empathy and solidarity of many known and unknown people. Remember that this is only a temporary situation, after which we will all have learned many things, both from others and from ourselves.
Marta Garcia. FIVClínic consulting psychologist.