I am obsessive, always have been, and my preparation for my first round of IVF is no different. There are so many do's and don't's with fertility that I easily lose track of what I am meant to doing, adding, avoiding each week. The end of the day arrives and as I head up the stairs to Bedfordshire I think 'damn it, Inositol!' or 'algae shots. Must remember my algae shot tomorrow'. So as an aide memoire I have created a daily checklist of fertility friendly food and lifestyle activities that I aim to do each day between now and my first round of IVF, beginning in July. I thought I would share it, with the rather large caveat that this is what I am finding helpful for my body, right now, in its current state of health and hormone balance.
The list is aspirational. How do I know this? Well, I'm one week in and I have yet to tick all of the boxes on any single day. But it shows me where I can make improvements and just helps to remind me so that I am no longer required to keep the long fertility to-do list in my head, pushing out some other no doubt vital information, like all the words to Mr Brightside that I feel compelled to shout out whenever it comes on at a wedding, or our cat Roger's full title Roger Flufferston-Shelby the Third, etc. Vital things, truly vital.
IVF Daily Check List
Available to download and print as a PDF here.
Um, what is it you are doing?
Once a week I aim to:
Do 3 sessions of yoga
Go on 3 gentle runs
Do 2 sessions of gentle strength training at home
Do 3 journal entries. It's meant to help me to deal with my emotions of struggling with fertility, bring about a more positive view on life and to generally help me to be less of a miserable b*tch. The journalling book that I have been using to keep me on track is Christina Baldwin's Life Companion: Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest. This is undoubtedly on the hippy end of the scale but I am thoroughly enjoying it and feel like it is beneficial to making space in my crowded mind.
Schedule 2 sessions of 'me time'. These are evenings or week days when I don't see anyone, commit to anything or work. Instead I do something that i love to do for relaxation, the most common being reading my book in the bath and getting an early night.
Do 3 fertility massages. Self massage of the abdominal area and womb, as shown to me by my fertility specialist. It is said to help improve the circulation and blood flow to the uterus, thereby improving fertility.
Eat liver once a week. And try not to be sick.
Things that I only do pre-ovulation are:
1 womb steam a week. Once again on the hippy end of the scale, it basically involves sitting over a boiling boil of water and allowing the steam to rise up through your foo-foo. Also known as a vaginal steam and meant to be great if you get brown spotting before or at the very start of your period.
1 castor oil pack a week. Detoxing the womb area with a castor oil pack is rather a pleasant way to pass some time, so not much of a hardship that one.
Be upside down at least once a week. Headstand, shoulder stand or legs up the wall. Getting your head below your heart to help improve the flow of blood to the brain and to the pituitary gland.
Once a day I aim to:
Take my Chinese herbs. Provided to me by my Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. More details here on the how, what and why of this particular activity.
Take my vitamins. It is a mine field out there, with what you are supposed to take, not to take, only take if you are a certain 'type of infertile' but I have settled on these vitamins, mainly those recommended in the Better Baby Book by Lana Asprey.
Algae shots. Once of my least favourite activities. Spirulina and chlorella mixed with water to make a nutrient and mineral dense shot of green horror.
Inositol. 2 grams a day taken for egg health and to aid with insulin sensitivity (good for PCOSers apparently).
Ferments. Fermented foods are good for gut health and I try to consume a few types each day, such as sauerkraut, water kefir, goat milk kefir or kombucha.
Consume fats. Fats are essential for the production of hormones, which are in turn essential for fertility. So this reminds me to consume lots of fats including nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, butter, MCT or XCT oil etc.
Bone broth. Drunk as a warm beverage or within a soup or stew, as long as it is consumed daily, I don't mind. Good for soothing the stomach and rich in nutrients.
Seed cycling. Using seeds to help balance hormones.
Egg yolk. Using either raw within a smoothie or in a soft boiled egg at breakfast, I eat egg yolks for their nutrient rich content.
Meditation. To help reduce my stress I need to mediate daily and I love to use the 28 Day Natural Cycle Fertility Programme by Circle and Bloom as well as the Headspace App.
Breathing. I am attempting to learn Qigong breathing which I read about in the book The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis.
Visualisation. I picture myself being healthy, young, fertile and pregnant. I mean, I really picture it, imagining how it feels and looks, feeling that it is true.
Affirmations. I discovered my favourite health and fertility affirmations online which I hope if I say them to myself enough will come true. Because that is just how life works, isn't it?
Iodine. I rub iodine on to my skin at night before bed (trying not to stain the bedsheets), to aid with my thyroid and because some of my symptoms (like tender breasts) may indicate that I am deficient.
Magnesium. I spray magnesium oil on to my skin to aid my sleep and relaxation.
Phone off by 9. Self explanatory, but very hard to actually manage.
Bed by 10. Having a set bedtime, just like a child. Learn to be your own mother first, said the wise owl Julia Indichova in the book Inconceivable.
8 different vegetables a day. Not fruit and veg, because fruit I find easy to fit in, but veg. Just veg. It's proving to be trickier than I hoped and focuses my mind on how much veg I should really be eating and how when I think I have consumed plenty each day, I actually haven't.
8 glasses of water. To stay hydrated and improve health. I now use a 1.5 litre jug at work which I fill up with filtered water each morning and leave on my desk to get through each day. That, plus a glass on first waking and a couple of glasses when I get home see me powering through my water quota.