How You Can Aid Embryo Implantation Post Transfer
What helps implantation during the 2 week wait?
Congratulations! You've made it through IVF treatment, your embryo transfer and are about to start the two week wait...
For most women, it's a bitter sweet time riddled with a mix of anxiety and excitement all at once. Whether you did a fresh or a frozen cycle, you can help but wonder, what can you do at this point to help increase your chances of successfully getting pregnant?
It may feel like you have no control over the outcome. And, to some extent you may not. However, even at this late stage of he game, there are some things you can do to help optimize your chances of successfully getting pregnant. Patients commonly have many questions about what they can do (and what they should avoid) to give their IVF cycle the best chance of success, so read on for our comprehensive list of dos, don’ts, and frequently asked questions about the post embryo transfer two-week wait.
Physical Activity After Embryo Transfer
How much physical activity is ok after an embryo transfer?
Of course, we all know that exercise is usually very healthy. It improves blood pressure and circulation, strengthens muscles, and lowers your stress levels (see below). But during your two-week wait, exercise caution before engaging in strenuous, high-impact activity. Your body needs this time to rest and recover in order to increase the chance of successful pregnancy.
For Lower-Impact Exercises Try:
Yoga Instead of Weight Training — Yoga improves bone strength, muscle tone, and flexibility while promoting mindfulness and healing stress (see below).
Swimming instead of Interval Training — Interval training gets a reputation for increasing endurance and cardiovascular fitness, but it also takes a toll on the body. Swimming, on the other hand provides similar endurance and cardio benefits while taking pressure off the joints and aiding circulation.
Walking instead of Running — Walking and running both offer the convenience of an equipment-free workout that’s available to everyone. However, the strain that running takes on your body may make it less ideal during a two-week wait than taking a simple walk around the neighbourhood.
Of course, everyone will have different needs and abilities when it comes to exercise. For example, someone who regularly engages in high levels of activity may benefit from some reduction, but still be able to do some higher-impact exercises. Make sure to ask your doctor before changing your normal activity levels.
Nutrition After Embryo Transfer
No single food can single-handedly change your IVF results, but there is good evidence showing that certain nutrients improve fertility outcomes. Therefore, the foods we eat can make a difference. Everyone can benefit from a balanced diet containing a variety of foods that include fruit, vegetables and (other plant foods), protein, and carbohydrates. More importantly, no single eating plan works for every individual, and you should never eat foods that you’re sensitive or allergic to. In general, however, the following foods may have nutrients that support implantation:
Best Foods to Eat:
- Bright Red Foods like Pomegranates, Beets, and carrots contain Nitrates which have been shown to improve circulation, a necessary process in conception.
- Dark Green Vegetables, and dark colored fruit like pomegranates, blueberries, and blackberries contain high levels of vitamins, like folic acid, which are needed to support pregnancy. The powerful antioxidants in dark fruits and vegetables may also aid implantation.
- Healthy Fatslike avocado, olive oil, nuts – Foods containing healthy fat and Omega3’s have been associated with improved fertility.
Foods NOT to Eat:
Avoid any food that’s not recommended during pregnancy. Some recommendations include avoiding:
- Raw/Rare Meet or fish
- Fish High in Mercury (ex. Tuna, Swordfish)
- Deli Meats
- Soft/Unpasteurized Cheese
Can I drink coffee during my two week wait?
Research shows that about 300 mg (or less) of caffeine daily is safe during pre-conception and pregnancy. Unfortunately, individual coffees vary in terms of caffeine content from cup to cup. In order to keep caffeine levels within the safe zone, it’s recommended that patients have only one cup of coffee in the morning. Some refer to this as the “one and done” rule. On the other end of the caffeine spectrum, consuming more than 4 servings of caffeine per day is associated with pregnancy loss. Speak with your doctor about just how much coffee consumption is a good idea for your body and be sure to cover what your definition of what one cup is in reality.
Can I drink alcohol during my two-week wait?
Just like avoiding foods that aren’t safe during pregnancy, you should also avoid drinking alcohol during the two-week wait. The first few weeks after conceiving are critical stages in embryo development, and it is better to be as safe as possible. However, don’t stress too much over a small drink or two before the positive pregnancy test. See below for the negative effect that stress can play on conception.
Stress Levels After Embryo Transfer
Is it important to avoid stress after an embryo transfer?
At this point in their fertility journey, most of us are sick of hearing that we need to relax, but it turns out, that’s probably good advice. It’s just one reason why “IVF Holidays” - when couples elect to schedule their fertility treatment on tropical vacations - are growing in popularity! While some studies show that stress isn’t the end-all and be-all of fertility, we have ample evidence that lower stress levels can improve IVF outcomes. For one, stress takes a toll on your mind and body, which both affect your overall health. Since IVF is already such a draining process, make sure to proactively combat stress along the way.
What activities can help lower stress?
Planning some de-stressing activities to try during the two week wait can help keep your mind occupied and your stress levels low. Most importantly, the activities should involve whatever brings you joy. But if you need some ideas to help you get started, the following activities have been researched and shown to help lower stress levels:
- Socializing—Particularly, spending time with the people we really care about can help increase feelings of security and belonging, which ultimately reduces stress levels.
- Listening to Music— Scientists haven’t really figured out why, but music can have a profound effect on the autonomic nervous system, aka, our body’s natural rhythms which we can’t consciously control like circulation and blood pressure. That means, playing your favorite tunes can actually change your stress levels on a physiological level! Opt for gentle, soothing genres to help lower blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and relax your muscles.
- Gentle Exercise—Exercise releases endorphins, which are known to improve mood levels. However, as discussed above, now isn’t the time for extreme sports or wild changes in your activity level. Opt for low-impact activities like the ones listed above to promote mind-body connection, balance, and calm.
- Time in Nature—This may not be the time to suddenly pick up rock-climbing or cross-country backpacking, but studies have shown that natural spaces help us feel more grounded, connected and at peace. Try taking a countryside drive, walking a gentle trail, or simply taking a picnic at your neighbourhood park.
- Creative Work— Sketching, knitting, crafting, or writing… creative outlets help us process emotions and promote feelings of accomplishment.Even puzzles can help you take your mind off things while creating something beautiful.
- Meditation— Meditation offers a whole host of mental and physical benefits. We have met many women who swear by meditation for infertility. If you’re not sure how to get your “ohm” started, you can find step-by-step guided imagery and mindfulness meditations on YouTube, or through a variety of mobile apps.
What treatments can help lower stress?
It’s not surprising that many find the IVF process itself highly stressful and frequently require some professional assistance to help reduce stress levels. If you’re in need of a little help in the de-stressing department, your doctor may be able to help you access treatments such as:/p>
- Massage Therapy
- Talk Therapy
- Antidepressant medication
- Sleep aids
Not all medical treatments for stress work for all patients, and some may be unsafe for those trying to conceive. Your reproductive endocrinologist is the best source to learn which treatments are safe to try during your two-week wait. And remember, as difficult as the two week wait is, it is only temporary.
More Frequently Asked Questions During the Two-Week Wait
What medications can I take/not take during my two-week wait?
- Take: Any supplement or medication prescribed by your RE. This may include continued hormones like progesterone, and/or nutritional supplements like iron and folic acid.
- Avoid: Medications not safe in pregnancy. These may include over the counter medications like ibuprofen or prescriptions. Make sure to check with your doctor before taking any medication during your two-week wait.
Can I travel during my two-week wait?
Some prefer to avoid travel so that they can ensure quick access to their medical team should the need arise. There’s also a very strong likelihood that you will have to go to your fertility clinic or a lab for monitoring/consultation. Some doctors are fine with traveling so long as it is within a reasonable distance. If you do choose to travel, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Distance: how long will it take to get medical help? How far are you from your fertility specialist? How far are you from support systems like family and friends?
- Mode of travel: If you’re taking an airplane, be sure to get approval from your doctor before flying. Also, make sure that any medications you must take with you are airline approved. Generally, traveling via car or train should be relatively safe in terms of fertility.
- Medication: Will you have access to your prescriptions and supplements? Will you have a safe and clean environment to insert trans-vaginal suppositories (if needed)?
If you do choose to travel, be sure to ensure that you’ll have everything you need for a successful two week wait away from home.
How soon after my embryo transfer can I have sex?
As a rule, it’s not recommended to have sex immediately after an IVF cycle. (For many women, it’s the furthest thing from their mind at this point in time anyway.)
The transfer process can leave your body more vulnerable to infection and disturbing the area may impact the embryo’s ability to implant, so pelvic rest (and rest in general) are a good idea post embryo transfer. Many doctors recommend pelvic rest for the entire two week wait, particularly if you’re taking trans-vaginal medications. However, some might just ask that you abstain for the first 48 hours following your transfer. As always, make sure to consult your doctor and follow their specific post-op instructions.