Mindfulness for infertility, IVF treatment, and miscarriages
Mindfulness is being consciously aware of the present moment. A person’s mind is kept busy by a variety of thoughts and, in many cases, the person is in “autopilot” mode, that is, the person performs/speaks/acts/responds automatically and is not conscious of their actions at that moment.
Mindfulness is an introspection technique that emphasizes every action we take in our daily lives right here and now. When one’s mind is attentive, by practicing the method, anyone can find calmness, serenity, freedom, and even rid themselves of thoughts and ego.
Mindfulness and miscarriages
The results of research confirm that a healthy diet, reducing stress, and encouraging personal well-being can help lower the risk of miscarriage among women in the early stages of pregnancy or among those planning to become pregnant.
According to a study, a large number of women who have experienced a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy meet the criteria for post-trauma. Many suffer from moderate to severe anxiety and a lower number of women suffer from depression. The symptoms of post-trauma continue for at least 3 months after losing a pregnancy.
A psychological process that contributes greatly in case of repeated miscarriages is to perform mindfulness exercises, which has been found to almost triple the number of live births. Below is a brief explanation of mindfulness and studies done on this method.
Mindfulness exercises helped me personally enormously to cope with my miscarriages. I realized that my pain had become an integral part of me, of my very being. In fact, identifying with my pain was so great that it was impossible to distinguish between where the pain stopped and where I started to feel myself again.
In my subconscious, it felt like if I stop hurting, nothing would be left of all that I had been through. There is no more baby. So he is also not in pain and therefore I’m really left with nothing as well as no ego. My bruised ego suffered such severe blows that it was truly unable to let go of the pain. That’s all I had left.
With the help of mindfulness, I learned to separate myself from my pain. To understand that they are two separate entities. I stopped being a slave to the pain and stopped letting it define and control me. Instead of being occupied with my pain, I try to deal with the present moment and everything that is reflected from it. Everything the senses allow me to see, touch, and feel. When you live in the moment, there is no past, no future; there is only this moment. The present.
Mindfulness and IVF
Generally, IVF treatment is an emotional and physical burden borne by infertile woman, and this burden can adversely affect the outcome of the treatment. A study examined the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions among infertile women who had signed up for their first IVF treatment. 58 underwent the intervention and 50 were assigned to a control group.
Standard indicators of mindfulness, self-compassion, difficulties regulating emotions, coping strategies related to infertility, and fertility-quality of life were applied before and after the mindfulness-based intervention, and the rate of six-month pregnancies was measured after the intervention. The groups proved to be equivalent at the beginning of the study
At the end of the intervention, women who had participated in the intervention demonstrated a marked increase in their awareness, self-compassion, meaning-based coping strategies, and in all areas of fertility-quality of life. Respectively, they showed a significant decrease in difficulties regulating their emotions and in active and passive avoidance strategies. Women in the control group did not show significant changes in any of the psychological indicators. Furthermore, there were statistically clear differences in the rate of pregnancy between the participants; it was higher in the experimental group than in the control group.
Being fully aware of the present moment without looking through the lens of judgment helps women cope with infertility and IVF treatment in new ways. It helps them to embrace self-compassion, to regulate their adaptive emotions and their fertility-related coping strategies, which, consequently, could affect their fertility-quality of life rates and their pregnancy success rates. The short, non-pharmacological nature of this intervention makes it a promising candidate for use by women during IVF treatment.
Mindfulness and infertility
Another fascinating study examined a mindfulness-based program for treating infertility. The experimental group and the control group were equivalent in the beginning. At the end of the mindfulness-based program for treating infertility, women who participated in the program revealed a significant decrease in symptoms of depression, internal and external shame, and feelings of being trapped and defeated. Conversely, statistically, they showed a clear improvement in their cognitive skills and their self-efficacy to cope with infertility. Women in the control group did not show significant changes in any of the psychological indicators, except for a decrease in self-judgment.
An increase in practicing mindfulness and acceptance skills as well as disengaging from thoughts and feelings appears to help women to handle their inner negative emotions in new ways, to lower their preoccupation with these feelings and, as a result, to lower their mental stress. The study suggests that a program based on mindfulness for infertility is an effective psychological intervention technique for women who experience infertility.