Before we dive into the top 10 IVF success tips we have a few things to cover about IVF. Let’s find out What is In vitro fertilization, what are the steps to IVF and more info you need to know to feel prepared for your IVF treatment.
What is IVF?
IVF stands for in vitro fertilization. In plain terms, IVF is a medical procedure where an egg is fertilized by sperm in a test tube or somewhere else outside the body.
What are the general overall steps of IVF?
After going through fertility testing for both partners (more info on female infertility testing and male infertility testing can be found in other posts), doctors will take those results and tailor your specific treatment to include those results both good and bad.
Generally, blood work will be performed and analyzed and ovaries will be stimulated with some type of hormonal therapy depending on your health history and fertility test results. The female will have various ultrasounds to monitor the uterus lining and follicle growth.
As time progresses and if ovaries and follicles are responding well, an egg retrieval date will be scheduled and performed.
A sperm sample will also be collected and tested. Eggs will be fertilized with the healthy and appropriate sperm. Embryos will then be tested if genetic testing is part of your plan.
You’ll receive a few different reports from the lab and embryologist about the health and progression of the embryos. Once they’ve reached a certain specific maturity (depends on your clinic), a transfer date will be scheduled.
A healthy embryo (or more) will be implanted into the uterus under ultrasound and then within a few weeks, a pregnancy blood test will be performed.
There are a lot more steps to IVF, but this is a general overview of things you can expect if you’re about to go through in vitro fertilization.
Moving on a bit for the tips, I am very honored to have Misty share her top ten tips to prepare yourself for IVF treatment.
If you are considering In Vitro Fertilization or it’s the next step in your journey to become a mama, first let me just send you a virtual hug. I’ve walked in your shoes and been in those darn stirrups way too many times as well.
We had just about every test imaginable that led to a diagnosis of anovulation and endometriosis. After two unsuccessful IUI’s, we were told that IVF was our best chance of conceiving.
Even though we had a happy ending who is now a five year old bundle of energy, I will always understand the heart and longing of those experiencing infertility.
Although I can’t promise that the tips I’m sharing will lead to a positive outcome, I can promise that they are shared to help you get through the process with less stress.
They are meant to be helpful for the mama’s in waiting that are so near and dear to my heart. You can do this!
1. Rally your support system
My support system, in addition to my husband, was a group of bloggers who were all going through infertility treatments. Even though I had never met them in real life, I could tell you their names, spouse’s names, jobs, and what treatments they had coming up. These ladies were the first to know when I got the wonderful news.
I was never comfortable telling family every detail about IVF. They knew we were struggling and going through treatments, but that’s about it. This is a personal decision for everyone but you will need a support system.
These people are on your team and they are cheering you on every step of the way. Rally your support system because you will need them.
Related : If you’re in need of a little more support, check out the ebook Infertility is a Diagnosis, NOT a definition. It is a great book that teaches you ways to cope with your infertility diagnosis. It shares the secrets from another success story on how she used her diagnosis to become a stronger fertility warrior.
BONUS IVF TIP – GET A PLANNER
Your whole cycle will be lots of planning, it will have lots of notes and reminders of when to take your medications, when your next appointment is, etc.
Don’t miss out on any of the important steps when using the IVF planner!
2. Prep, Prep and more Prep
IVF is very much like taking on a part-time job with the doctor visits alone, not to mention the medication requirements. Prep for this time by clearing your schedule to the minimum, making some freezer meals or meal planning ahead of time, and getting your house in order so that these are things you don’t have to worry about in the midst of IVF.
3. Set up a Medication Table
This was one of the most helpful things we did during IVF. We set up a table in a guest bedroom (ideally this place is close to a bathroom for hand washing) and laid out all of the medications and supplies.
I used a drawer divider and sticky notes to organize and keep up with instructions for each medication. I had an IVF friend who set her station up on the kitchen counter so that she had quick access to (in her words) “Bravelle and Booze” ha! Make this space work however you need it to!
4. Put together a (cute) go-to bag just or IVF appointments
Normally I don’t recommend a purchase, especially while undergoing the financial burden of IVF, but, my friend, this is one time where you need a bag that brings you joy! I still remember that mine was a Vera Bradley tote and here’s what I kept in it:
- Bottle of water
- Feminine products
- Cash (in case of parking fees)
- Book or magazine
On appointment days, I would move my wallet and phone over from my regular purse and this bag was always ready to go.
Here’s a little medication hack I learned… when I needed to take a vial to my appointment, I would drop it in an empty pill bottle and stuff a cotton ball on top. This way, I didn’t risk losing any medicine from a break or leak.
5. Make time for what relaxes you
I chose to get acupuncture treatments during IVF. For some, the thought of tiny needles is stressful and that wouldn’t be a good fit. For me, it was relaxing and I believed in the benefits of Eastern medicine in addition to the Reproductive Endocrinologists.
For you, it might be walks, music, movies, reading… whatever relaxes you, make time to do lots of it!
Related : If you’re looking for ways to stay connected with you spouse, check out One Sharp Mama’s freebie on ideas to keep the spark alive between you two while dealing with infertility troubles!
6. Take notes at the IVF training session
Learn from my mistake. I regretted not paying more attention at the IVF training session. They will teach you everything about the medications and how to do the injections. Your mind is already going in a million different directions so take notes or do things like let them mark on your backside where the injection goes.
Yeah, I didn’t do this. So on our first injection day, I flipped out. I took the syringe out the wrong way and meds sprayed, I kept seeing air bubbles, and then it stung like (any expletive here).
Take advantage of the practice sessions and/or any nurses in your family or friends that you feel comfortable asking for advice!
I’d say a typical PIO shot routine might look something like this:
- Hold an ice pack to the area for about 5 minutes (I know of others who used some numbing gel… good question to ask your doctor)
- Put the PIO vial in your bra while getting meds ready (add it to the strange things you’ll do during IVF list) so the oil warms a little and is easy to push out.
- Crank up the heating pad to have ready for after the shot.
- Do the injection like a boss because you paid attention during the medication training.
- Massage the area of the shot as instructed and put heat to your backside.
7. Keep OHSS on your mind
OHSS stands for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome and it’s pretty common during IVF. Some of the medicine works to stimulate your ovaries to produce mature follicles and OHSS can occur as a result.
Here’s the good news. Your doctor is constantly monitoring your progress, assessing, and adjusting the cycle depending on how your body is responding.
I ended up with mild OHSS that was treated by rest and monitoring fluid intake. Everyone responds differently so my best advice is to just have great communication with your doctor and let them know any symptoms or discomfort you’re experiencing.
8. Tips for Egg Retrieval Day
Wear stretchy clothing and, if at all possible, clear your calendar for the next 24-48 hours. You will get an IV and may experience some cramping, soreness and/or bloating afterwards. It’s really not so much from this one procedure as it is from the entire IVF cycle when you get to this point.
No matter the news- how many mature eggs retrieved- or the fertility report you will get soon-how many fertilized- let me reassure you that you did everything you could possibly do to get to this point.
We only ended up with TWO that made it to fertilization and none to freeze. Many women end up with many more than that and I just kept the faith that one or both of those embryos would stick. There is hope!
9. Tips for Transfer Day / Implantation Day
Again, wear stretchy clothing and, if at all possible, clear your calendar the next 24-48 hours. The doctor may give you some medication to relax, but this final procedure is pretty quick and simple.
The hardest part of that day for me was the uncomfortable full bladder. You made it and, in the world of infertility, you are now officially known as PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise!)
All that’s left is what’s also well known in the world of infertility as the TWW (two week wait). Which leads me to my last tip…
10. Make a TWW Survival Kit
There’s no other way to put it… the two week wait feels like it takes two months (or longer)! Before IVF, make a TWW survival kit filled with new magazines or books, podcast playlists, Netflix flixtapes, or whatever non-stressful things you enjoy doing around your regular routine.
This is also a good time to go on some date nights (but nothing too romantic since your RE may advise against sex for awhile…hugs are definitely allowed:]) Fill your time and thoughts with positive affirmations!
Check out this post on tips for surviving the two week wait. You’ll need all of them that you can get.
This next piece was from the blog post I wrote on the day of the blood test after I got the call from my nurse (many have already POAS at this point, but I waited)…
Thank you God. Thank you modern medicine. Thank you PC. Thank you blog family.
The tears won’t stop flowing… and I’m okay with that.
I’m pregnant and I am beyond elated.
As I copied/pasted those words here from 6 years ago, guess what? The tears flowed again. I’m now a mama and here to send you the most positive, sticky vibes possible. Hang in there sweet lady… I’m staring at my miracle and believing in you for yours.
I just wanted to take a moment and truly thank Misty for sharing this extremely intimate and personal post. I know from experience how hard it can be to open about about anything related to your infertility.
I hope that this will help give you inspiration and help you prepare for this roller coaster journey you may be about to embark on. Please know that, while I have not personally been through IVF (you can read my own infertility journey on another post), I have family members and friends who have.
I would more than honored to become part of your support system. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me through this blog, email at [email protected] or reach out on any of the social media platforms.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey and I hope that this helps you become as prepared as you can be for this next chapter of life.
Sending baby dust to all!
About the Guest Writer
I’m very honored and excited to share that we have another Guest Writer for today’s post. She is a very dear blogging friend of mine, Misty. She writes for her blog, Simple Organized Lifestyle.
She has been through IVF treatment and was lucky and blessed enough to have her own sweet success story. IVF treatment is something that I have yet to experience myself, but, it may end up being necessary in the future, only time will tell.