When going through IVF treatment or struggling with infertilty, it can feel like a challenge to stay on top of things and be prepared for each step along the way. In this post, written by a guest writer whose been through these ropes herself, we are sharing the top tips to prepare for IVF Transfer Day.
I was not well-prepared for my first frozen embryo transfer. Still feeling the shame and anxiety that accompanied me at the start of our infertility treatments, I hadn’t done much internet browsing on the topic and had only asked high level procedural questions of my nurses and doctors.
Prior to the nurse’s prep call the day before, I only knew three important things: we had three five-day-old embryos that were deemed genetically normal; my doctor was going to transfer one embryo to my uterus after we spent several weeks preparing for its arrival with various medications; we had roughly 60-40 odds of becoming pregnant.
Looking back on that first embryo transfer, which miraculously led to our first baby being born, I learned so much to help comfort me during our second (failed) attempt at conceiving. As we work toward transferring our third and final embryo to attempt to have a second child, there are a handful of tips I’m keeping in mind.
Tip # 1: Understand How You Manage Stress And Plan Ahead For The Day
I knew after the transfer was done in the morning, I’d be a ball of nerves the rest of the day, trying to avoid thinking about whether it worked or not while, of course, only thinking about whether it worked or not.
With my first transfer, I was still working professionally, but I decided to take the day off and instead spend the afternoon binge watching trashy, but captivating, reality TV shows.
With the second transfer, I was already a stay-at-home mom with a toddler, so my husband took the day off to ease my workload and I could similarly just relax.
If you think relaxing will be impossible, then go back to work after the procedure (provided your doctor is ok with it).
** The important thing is to consider your own personal preferences, know how you will best be able to manage your own stress and follow your own guidance. **
Tip # 2: Ask All The Questions Before And After Transfer
There were at least 5 medical professionals in the room during my transfers – a nurse holding the ultrasound to my belly, my fertility specialist doctor doing the transfer, a nurse managing the equipment the doctor needed for the transfer, the embryologist providing the thawed embryo and verifying it was delivered to my uterus, and an assistant for the embryologist, confirming the doctor’s work.
The moment of the transfer was somewhat tense (for me) and quiet with everyone focused on the task at hand. I wasn’t about to ask what that machine did or what this device was for while my precious embryo was in transit. But, it’s free rein before and after.
Before the transfer, the ultrasound nurse guided me through how the 10 minutes of transfer would go.
The embryologist introduced himself and confirmed which number embryo (and how many) we would be using.
My doctor checked in to make sure all was well ahead of getting prepped for the procedure. With all of these interactions, as well as my doctor and nurse staying a few minutes after the procedure, I got to ask all my questions and with each answer, ease my own nerves.
I double checked which embryo we were transferring; I confirmed how many days I would have to wait; I verified any activity and dietary restrictions. I felt shy and a little embarrassed, but the more questions I asked, the more prepared I felt to handle the uncertainty of the waiting period.
Tip #3: Practice Your Kegel Exercises Regularly
The most uncomfortable part of the embryo transfer for me was the full bladder I was required to hold for the duration of the procedure. More surprising was that it had been “too full” for the first transfer and I’d had to partially empty it after the technician checked the ultrasound.
When the nurse called with my first pre-FET instructions, she directed me to drink 24-32 ounces of water about 30 minutes before the procedure.
When I asked why, I was told (and then got to see to understand at the transfer itself), the black blob of a full bladder helps better find and show the uterus on the ultrasound.
Luckily, in the excitement of the impending transfer, my full bladder became less uncomfortable, but I was very relieved (pun intended) when it was over.
Doctors don’t seem to often recommend holding a full bladder, but the “down there” muscle exercises prepared me physically for the discomfort. This will also become helpful and a recommended practice throughout pregnancy and into labor.
Tip #4: Wear Easy Clothes To Put On
Once the procedure was over, the only thing between me and going to the bathroom was getting dressed.
It was handy to only have to put back on my underwear and lower my loose-fitting dress over my legs after our second transfer attempt.
Our first transfer happened in early December, so I had worn jeans and a sweater. Pulling jeans on and buttoning them was more difficult than I imagined with a full bladder.
Tip #5: Try To Enjoy It
As nervous as I was with both transfers, I tried to keep my spirit up, knowing that if it worked, I’d look back on the transfer as the day that we conceived our child.
Maybe not through the usual route and maybe not as much fun as the usual route, but nonetheless, that was our story and the start to life with our new child, if it took.
Our first transfer was pre-COVID and my husband was able to be in the room with me while we tried to get pregnant—a novel idea, I know!
During COVID-times, my husband wasn’t allowed into the room, which worked just as well for him to stay home and care for our toddler. I kept him in the loop via text as I arrived, was prepped, and as the procedure was done.
Despite the medical equipment and all the people in the room, this was an extremely intimate moment for us so taking a breath to savor it was important.
Each transfer was different because I was different for each one. My perspective and mindset shifted as I gained life experience.
With the first, I was a nervous wreck but full of optimism. Years after the first one worked, we tried again.
The second time around, I knew much more of what to expect and was far more comfortable going through the procedure, despite doing it alone. I felt naively confident and only mildly nervous. Then it didn’t work.
With our third (and final, for now) frozen embryo transfer coming up, it’s hard to know which emotion will win the day. I expect I’ll feel excitement, worry, happiness and sadness, but I imagine hope for our future will carry me through it.
As Vaclav Havel said, “Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
Far more important than the physical work of the transfer (the doctors and nurses take care of that!), I have been carefully maintaining my mental stamina (partly through posts like this).
I face each month wondering if this is when lightning will strike or whether modern medicine will help our dreams of having a second child come true with our next transfer. I’m not certain it will work, but I’m certain we will continue building our life around our family, either way.
Thoughts On IVF Prep
So, we hope all this knowledge from Lauren at Happy Optimizing helps you feel prepared and ready for your In Vitro Fertilization procedure.
If you’d like more tips and suggestions, head over to our general IVF tips post.
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