Supporting your nervous system during IVF | The Evewell London - The Evewell
Fertility advice

Supporting your nervous system through fertility treatment

We asked Laura Wilkes, who works with women to support their fertility journey, to write a blog on how to support your nervous system during fertility treatment. Plus, sign up to get a free Yin Yoga online class with Laura below.

How to support your nervous system whilst going through IVF?

By Laura Wilkes, a women’s health coach, Yin Yoga teacher and TRE® practitioner.

A fertility journey is incredibly stressful and, if you have reached the stages of IVF, it’s likely you have been through years of infertility struggles. The stress is multi-dimensional. Being faced with terms such as “infertile”, losing hope, facing the unknown, injecting hormones, medical jargon, other people’s pregnancy announcements, relationship challenges, and financial pressures; all whilst going to work, trying to maintain friendships, look after your health and live your life.

Modern society is stressful enough, add a long fertility journey to the mix and it’s likely you and your body are feeling tired, depleted, and a long way from your former self. We feel you. Understanding the impact this has on your body and your nervous system and learning how to support yourself can be incredibly beneficial for your physical, mental and emotional health as you enter into IVF.

Can you imagine entering each appointment feeling empowered, hopeful, calm, rested, and connected to your body? It’s possible, and we want to help you get there.

A quick nervous system 101

Your nervous system is designed to protect you. When it perceives danger, the stress response kicks in and acts to “save your life” by activating its automatic survival actions: fight, flight or freeze. In busy, modern life, the “danger” can be actual physical danger (where you need your life saving), or it can be a rude email from your boss, skipping breakfast, a negative thought, and a fertility journey, pregnancy loss, and the worry of not ever having a family.

A challenging fertility journey is a chronic stress and when your nervous system doesn’t think you are safe, it never switches off and becomes stuck in survival mode. This is your body’s way of protecting you, keeping you alert and always ready to fight, fight or flee because the nervous system doesn’t know the difference between being chased by a sabre tooth tiger and the worry that a transfer won’t be successful.

Not feeling like yourself, having trouble sleeping, skipping meals, living in your head, constantly on edge, feeling numb or disconnected, experiencing physical pain and tension, and losing your sense of joy and purpose, are all signs that you are stuck in your stress response. You have been through so much to get here and before you enter into IVF, it’s important to prioritise helping your body to feel safe again to give yourself the very best chance of success.

There are many ways to release the stress response to get you back into your parasympathetic nervous system; where the body feels safe enough to rest, digest and heal. Entering your IVF journey from a space of safety will support you to feel present, connected, and empowered in your experience.

Accessible stress-releasing tools to support you whilst going through IVF

Don’t worry, this is not a list that tells you to “just relax”, think positive, and stop stressing, that is near on impossible when entering into IVF; and it’s ok if you want to punch anyone that says those things to you!

Instead, this is a list of accessible, sustainable ways to support your nervous system, release stress, and support yourself whilst going through IVF.

Find practices that get you out of your head and into your body

Supporting your nervous system starts with connecting to your body and releasing the build-up of stress that it’s been through. This releases the stress response and enables you to come back into your parasympathetic nervous system.

Some examples;

Yin Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Breathwork, getting out into nature, mindful walks, dancing around your room to songs you love, reflexology, acupuncture, and somatic practices such as TRE.

Click below to access a free Yin Yoga online class to support your mind and body.

Find out about using TRE to support your IVF journey here.

Click here to find a fertility acupuncturist near you.

Eat to nourish your body and fertility

Food is fuel and medicine for your body. Prioritise having a protein-rich breakfast, ensure you’re eating three nourishing meals a day, and have protein at every meal. Eating to nourish yourself is a sign to your body that it is safe.

Reduce the overwhelm caused by your phone

A really simple way to take control of the overwhelm and stress that a phone can bring into daily life is by turning off the notifications so it doesn’t constantly flash at you. Consider removing social media, or at least logging out of your accounts, so you aren’t hit with anything that will cause upset as you are going through IVF.

Build a healthy sleep routine

Ensuring you get a good night’s sleep supports your nervous system to release stress and enter rest, digest, and heal. Try to leave your phone outside of your bedroom, journal or read before bed, or try a calming practice such as meditation, Yoga Nidra, or Yin Yoga to help your mind and body prepare for sleep mode. We heal as we sleep.

Free online Yin Yoga class

Click here to try a great sound healing meditation to try to help you drift off.

Stay connected to people who make you feel great

Often a challenging fertility journey and IVF is kept private, but connecting and sharing with the right people can make you feel held and supported. Think about who you could open up to for support. A good chat and laughter with friends is deep medicine for your nervous system. Your life and your joy don’t need to go on hold as you enter into IVF. Keep connected to your community and the things you love.  

Which one can you action now to support yourself?

It’s the little things we do for ourselves every day that make the biggest difference. They may seem small and like they’ll make no difference, but they do. Your body is the vessel for the new life that is waiting for you and, often, she just needs a bit of love to help her prepare.

Prioritise your physical, mental and emotional health as you enter into IVF and approach your journey with a calm, safe nervous system.

“Make your life something that a seed would want to be planted in.” ~ Lacey Haynes

By Laura Wilkes


Find out more

Recommended for you

For advice, regular tips and support, connect with us

Through our newsletter

On Social Media