A Practical Guide for Couples after Embryo Transfer
Your embryo is now transferred in your womb. What a wonderful feeling! At the same time you may feel vulnerable and delicate as if too much of hurrying and scurrying could hurt the embryo that has just been transferred. What precautions should you take? What should you do? What should you not do? All kinds of questions will find themselves floating in your mind even though our doctors and counselors may have told you to relax and carry on with normal activities. Being a bit anxious is understandable. That’s why we’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts to serve as a guide for couples after an embryo transfer.
Do chill out the first 2 days
The first 24 hours are the most crucial as the embryo has to attach to the uterine wall before it can fully implant which can take several days. We advise you to stay at home, take it easy for the first 2 days, but complete bed rest is not advisable.
Do carry on with your normal daily routine
Surveys show that neither resting nor being active can decrease your chance of success. There is no reason to stay in bed the whole day and doctors would advise that you keep the body circulation flowing with normal day-to-day activities. However, if you feel you’d like to rest for some time during the day, there’s no harm in doing that either. Studies show that total bedrest during this time is inadvisable, according to a meta-analysis published in the Archive of Gynecology and Obstetrics (Nov. 2019).
Don’t overdo the activity
While embryos don’t just fall out due to vigorous activity, you should avoid strenuous exercise and heavy workouts. Swimming is not advisable. Go for a gentle walk preferably in quiet places surrounded by natural beauty – this will help you relax, harmonize with nature, and enjoy the natural processes that are taking place in your body.
Don’t subject yourself to excessive heat
Keeping your body temperature as normal as possible is advisable. In India we don’t have many bathtubs but if you do have one, don’t soak yourself in a hot tub bath to relax as tempting as it may be! Showers or bucket baths with tepid water is what the doctor advises. Don’t use a heating pad to nurse a muscle sore. Embryos generally don’t like heat! Consult with your fertility doctor if you have any muscle sores and seek her advice before you treat yourself.
Don’t stress out
We know, this is easier said than done! The weeks of IVF treatment that prepared you for this moment have flown by and this is the final lap. It is natural to be a bit anxious but avoid stressing out. Find something to do that can de-stress your emotions. Some women like to practice meditation, or they find release in painting or doing some sort of craft. Some women like to work and if that is you, go right ahead but make sure that work does not become stressful for you.
Do travel if you have to
There is no contra-indication to traveling if you have to travel. But do keep yourself hydrated. If you’re in a car or airplane for a long time make sure you get out of your seat every hour and take a walk to keep the circulation going. We would recommend traveling only if you must!
Do take some time to pamper yourself!
You’ve undergone a lot of procedures up to this moment. It’s okay to care for yourself. Treat yourself to a romantic dinner with your partner. Watch your favorite movies or shows on Netflix. Or get lost in a good book when hubby is not at home. This is a good time for both partners to leave aside other priorities for a while and enjoy this special time together.
Do take your medication
Your doctors may prescribe hormonal medication necessary to keep the pregnancy – this may be oral medication or vaginal suppositories. It is important that you remember to take this medication as prescribed. Some of the medication may be dietary supplements. It is important that you don’t skip any doses.
Do encourage intimacy with your partner
Earlier in IVF history, it was thought that having intercourse after an embryo transfer might disturb the natural process of implantation that is taking place due to uterine contractions caused by an orgasm. Though it is no longer held to be true, some women may experience discomfort during intercourse because of the IVF procedure, and sometimes may also lead to vaginal infection or irritation. In fact, avoiding sex for one week may be sensible. However, intimacy need not just be sexual and finding ways and time to have special moments helps. Keep calm and keep close.
Don’t take pregnancy test
Avoid taking pregnancy tests at home as you may get a false-positive or a false-negative. Yes, you do need to wait for two weeks. You will be scheduled for an official pregnancy test at the clinic.
Do keep yourself hydrated
Make sure you are drinking at least 2 liters of fluids a day. Avoid aerated drinks or drinks with artificial sweeteners.
Do eat healthy
Eat what you enjoy eating but make sure you have good nutritious meals, preferably home cooked. Eat on time and avoid too much sugar, fat and salt in your food. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages.
Do practice common sense
These do’s and don’ts are just a guideline Many women blame themselves if an embryo transfer does not succeed. It often happens that family members may blame the women as well. To be realistic, pregnancy success after an embryo transfer is very little under your control. The guidelines are mostly common-sense reminders for practical care of yourself during this time. Nature has its own way and when the time is right it will happen!