One of the best parts of my job, is getting to know individuals and hearing their “story.” I love learning about occupations, interests, and their goals for a family. I spend a lot of time listening to my patients so that I can fully grasp all that my patients have been through leading up to their visit with me.
I have to be honest: I’m saddened by how hard my patients are on themselves. There is so much unnecessary blame and justifying in fertility. For example, a common thing I hear can be something like the following: “I love coffee, but after trying to conceive for so long I gave it up. I miss it but I’m willing to give up anything in order to prove that I’m ready for a family.” Does this sound familiar to you? First off, you can drink coffee. Secondly, please try to be kind to yourself.
Research suggests that kindness and mindfulness will not only help you cope with fertility struggles, but may even improve your outcomes. Unfortunately, this important step is often overlooked in many fertility clinics. I try to address the potential benefits these practices may have with my patients.
As a self-diagnosed perfectionist, I will be the first to admit that I have very high expectations that I set for myself. When I fail to meet a certain goal that I’ve set for myself as a physician or a mom, I beat myself up about it. My advice to you: try kindness instead. Pretend a friend told you the exact same story. How would you react to your friends’ tribulations?
Life is stressful and that won’t change, even once you get pregnant. We can’t control the stressors in our life but we CAN control how we react to them. So please, consider being kind to yourselves and help me support you through this fertility journey.
Much of modern psychiatry is about using medications to try to normalize brain chemistry as a tool to help resolve mood disorders. Having been involved in considerable research on how hormonal shifts can cause changes in brain chemistry–I am always interested in trying to help my patients understand what may occur and what they may be able to do to take preventive actions. Here is a study that suggests that using a dietary supplement containing tryptophan (2 grams) and tyrosine (10 grams) may prevent postpartum blues without changing breast milk contents. Better still, this might interrupt the spiral to postpartum depression! Check out this link and then talk with your doctor before starting any program.
A recently published study [r1] reminded me of the importance of taking time to think about goals and values. A group of women at college were given a writing assignment. Half were told to spend 15 minutes writing about a value or goal that was important to them while the others were told to write about a value that may be important to someone else. They were also weighed at the time of the class. Upon returning 4 months later, the women that had undergone self reflection by writing about themselves experienced an average of 3 ½ pound weight loss while the other students had a 2 ¾ pound weight gain—typical of new college students. This finding does not surprise me as I have long advocated that my patients begin journaling to help them in achieving their goal of becoming pregnant. Here is an excerpt from my book PERFECT HORMONE BALANCE FOR FERTILITY[r2] where I explain a bit further:
Journaling is one of the most effective tools for managing emotions and relieving stress. Writing is more powerful than talking because it calls for more introspection, and it helps you carefully identify your feelings and reactions. Many people have reported that journaling brings physical benefits along with emotional relief. Studies show that by journaling regularly, your words begin to reflect a greater sense of optimism, your memory improves, you become more effective in your daily activities, and you’re less bothered by intrusive thoughts. Try to spend at least 15 minutes writing every day—especially in times of greater stress. If you’re new to journaling and aren’t sure what to write about, try freewriting, which entails writing continuously to fill a page, without stopping. Write whatever comes to mind, even if it doesn’t seem to make sense.
*Excerpt from my book PERFECT BALANCE[r1]
Optimists see the glass as half-full, and it stands them in good stead. Between 1962 and 1965, a group of investigators from the Mayo Clinic performed personality testing on nearly five hundred study participants. They recently followed up on them some thirty years after the original test and found not only that the “pessimists” has lower overall scores in terms of their health, but that over the three intervening decades, the “optimists” had about a 50% higher survival rate. Other studies have had similar results. Psychologist Dr. Richard Wiseman, author of The Luck Factor, has shown that the way we assess various situations changes how effectively we accomplish our goals. And a positive outlook wins every time.