28 Aug Two week wait: 10 great tips for IVF patients
The two week wait. Read the IVF forums and you’ll see what an emotionally difficult time it is. For those who find it tough, there are ways to cope and even to improve your chances of a positive pregnancy result. Based on our own experience, and those of our patients, these are our top 10 tips for surviving the two week wait.
1. Go easy after your transfer.
The two week wait begins the moment your embryo transfer is over. Starting from then, avoid heavy lifting, hot baths and rigorous exercise. If you’re having your IVF treatment abroad, you’ll have a suitcase. Don’t touch it after ET day. Get your partner to take care of it – especially when it needs to be stuffed in the overhead locker on the plane home.
2. Take the whole two weeks off – or at least the first.
Okay, so you took time off to have your IVF treatment. Don’t be shy about asking for more time away from the office. This is your life and your baby. Nothing is more important. Embryo implantation takes place one to five days after transfer. Stress and anxiety don’t help.
If you can’t take the entire two week wait off, go for the first seven days. Stay at home, watch Netflix, and talk to the cat if your partner’s not around. If you’re worried your extra holiday request will backfire, get a doctor’s note. (You could even ask your clinic or patient coordinator for this.)
3. Take your medication – religiously.
It’s actually quite easy to forget to take your medication in the two week wait. You’re lulled into a false sense of security: the hard bit’s over. But your fertility drugs are keeping your embryo alive and your uterine environment optimal. Create a chart or reminder system, ideally on your phone, for your daily medication regime. Use your phone alarm for added peace of mind.
If you’re taking estrogen pills, say three pills daily, it’s fine (and easier to remember) to take one pill each mealtime. Spacing them every eight hours of not needed. If you’re on twice-daily progesterone (e.g. Utrogestan) a 12-hour gap is best. Crinone? Bedtime application is a good idea – again, easy to schedule. If you’re on daily Clexane injections, taking it at exactly the same time each day is important, So set the loudest alarm for that.
4. Spotting and bleeding? Don’t panic.
Spotting and light bleeding can happen in the two week wait. And brown discharge. Try not to worry: it’s statistically more likely to be okay than not. Your uterus is under pressure from your meds and your embryo. Leakage (can’t think of a better word) can happen.
Talk to your clinic if you’re concerned. It may say you shouldn’t increase your estrogen and progesterone support (to counteract the bleeding) until the two week wait is up. Remember the adage: bleeding is not always bad.
5. Consider blood thinners – kill that clot.
The jury’s out on whether blood thinners, like low-dose aspirin and Clexane, protect a pregnancy. Ask your clinic if you should take either, or both, from transfer day or before. Small clots can cause implantation failure or miscarriage. Thinning the blood may help.
It all depends on your fertility history, but since the two week wait is a key moment, anticoagulants might just help. Baby aspirin is the low-cost, low-risk option. Talk to your doctor at transfer – clinics sometimes need a push on this.
6. Eat well – and get lots of rest (but not too much).
The two week wait isn’t pleasant – we can all agree on that. Emotions and nerves can, if you let them, get the better of you. But avoid that chocolate cake, ditch the caffeine and put the wine back in the fridge. Now’s the time, more than ever, to eat a balanced, healthy diet.
Ignore the nonsense online about eating particular foods to aid implantation. Go for an even mix of vegetables, fruit, pulses, carbs and proteins. Read our blog post on the perfect IVF diet. And don’t spend too long in bed: the latest research says prolonged bed rest post-transfer won’t improve your pregnancy chances and might make them worse.
7. Don’t test early, or expect pregnancy symptoms.
Testing early – e.g. half way through the two week wait – is pointless. After an own-egg IVF cycle, the HCG in your body could give you a false positive or negative. Wait for 14 days after your transfer, then test. Had donor eggs or an FET? Test early if you must. But you’ll only do another one at the right time. Patience can be less stressful. So put that Clearblue box back in the box and watch another series of Better Call Saul.
Patience applies to pregnancy symptoms as well. I didn’t feel pregnant at all in my two week wait. But I still had a beautiful baby 36 weeks later. So try your best not to obsess.
8. No sex – your uterus won’t like it.
Sex immediately after an IVF cycle is not a good move. Infections can happen and your uterus can do without the commotion. Leave your partner to his own devices, comforting as the idea of sex might be during the two week wait. You may even feel a bit sexy: blame that on the hormones you’ve been taking. Masturbation? Not recommended.
9. Twinges and cramps – oddly reassuring?
Twinges and cramps during the two week wait are common. Try not to panic: your womb is in overdrive. In fact, those feelings may mean implantation. If you experience more intense cramping, with or without bleeding, call your doctor. But do remember: most uterine movements in the two week wait are nothing to worry about. Chances are, there’s some serious baby making going on.
10. Expect the worst and hope for the best.
No IVF cycle is guaranteed – and we always tell our patients to set realistic expectations. The two week wait is make or break: that’s a fact. But follow the above tips to keep your pregnancy chances as high as possible. Avoid social media, keep positive and hunker down. And if it’s a positive result, there’s no better time to calculate your IVF due date!