While almost all youngsters go through a phase of not wanting children when they are adults themselves, this nearly always passes. By the time we reach our mid-to-late twenties the possibility of parenthood is no longer an unwanted menace and some couples actively begin to ‘try’ to get pregnant.
How stress can arise when you are trying to conceive (TTC)
What to do to manage this pressure
For most people this works in the way it has done since the dawn of time and it is not too long before two become three (or four or five) and the family is set and established. However, for a few couples nothing happens and scarlet cardinal of menstruation arrives promptly, the harbinger of yet another ‘failed’ attempt.
It is generally at this time that the hapless couple begin to receive all sorts of advice: take this supplement, try that smoothie every morning, more exercise, less exercise and, the favourite piece of advice given by friends, family and medical professionals alike, ‘Just relax.’
This last piece of advice, although annoying, frustrating and appearing to be a shifting of blame onto the couple themselves, is actually very sound.
How stress influences fertility
Our bodies do not know that we live in a world of modern medical marvels and will not permit pregnancy to happen while it is stressed and under pressure. Should the need to flee, go without food or undergo some other corporeal disaster overtake a woman, she is more likely to survive if she is not, at the same time, acting as an incubator to a child.
Also, times of high stress encourage high-risk behaviours, like smoking, drinking and over or under eating which can themselves work to prevent pregnancy.
However, the unfulfilled desire to be a parent can cause stress, which delays pregnancy causing something of a vicious circle. Once every medical reason for infertility has been considered and discarded – and taking fertility tests should not be a matter of shame or embarrassment any more than asking for treatment for a broken leg or for a blood test to confirm the presence of an infection should be!
Once the doctors have given the couple the all clear, confirming that their general health and infertility is good enough for pregnancy to occur naturally, the couple should start to employ techniques that ease the pressure and urgency of becoming pregnant naturally. For those who do have medical issues that are preventing or minimising the chance of conception, there is a huge range of treatments available; from fertility drugs, to IVF, to adoption and surrogacy.
Stastistically sound advice
It is important that both of you continue to enjoy hobbies and favourite pastimes while waiting to get pregnant. You must both continue to communicate with each other, and if either of you has any fears or concerns, now is the time to raise them.
If you are a worrier, you may benefit from yoga, meditation and deep-breathing, which can be practised at home, by yourself or in a class with like-minded souls. It is important that you both try to cut down on bad habits like drinking and smoking to give your reproductive organs the best chance of conceiving.
Perhaps a good way of ensuring that you both relax while trying to get pregnant is to stop all forms of contraception, put thoughts of babies and pregnancies out of your heads. Say that you are going to take a certain period of time, three months, six months or even a year, to just enjoy your partnership and work through a list of activities and visits that you would not be able to go on once you do start a family.
Make sure that you enjoy intercourse often, for its own sake, rather than as a means to an end and just take pleasure in each other’s company. This quasi-honeymoon will hopefully give you back an appreciation of each other and cause you both to relax completely.
During this relaxed and happy time, you may well fall pregnant but do not allow yourself to think about the possibility of being pregnant or even buy a pregnancy test until you have missed one or two periods and started suffering from morning sickness!
If these activities do not work, and you still do not manage to conceive, you can speak to a fertility expert who can offer stress treatment and management along with fertility enhancing treatments. There is no reason why a healthy, fertile couple should not be holding their dream baby in their arms within a few years of starting to try.
The reality of nappies, night-time feeds and colicky crying are a treat that awaits them!