What you should do before and after embryo transfer
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IVF was originally designed for women with blocked fallopian tubes. However, nowadays it's used for couples with a variety of infertility problems.
It's ideal to prep yourself 2-3 months before starting the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) process. This includes optimising your diet to help strengthen your body and improve egg growth. You should also reduce your energy expenditure, work less, sleep early and exercise less too.
Before egg retrieval it's good to eat lots of protein to help the eggs (follicles) grow. Keep your abdomen warm and use a hot water bottle to help blow flow to the uterus. Acupuncture can also help increase blood flow to the uterus.
Most IVF clinics will recommend carrying on as normal once you've had the embryo transfer. However, I believe there are several things you can do to help implantation and increase the success rate of your IVF treatment.
2. Before the transfer
On the day of your embryo transfer it's good to keep your lower abdomen where your uterus is warm to help encourage blood flow to your womb. Having acupuncture before and after your embryo transfer has been shown in research to improve blood flow and increase the chances of success.
Normally, the IVF clinic will want you to arrive with a full bladder, which will mean drinking plenty of water beforehand. Your embryo will be placed back into your uterine cavity under ultrasound guidance.
Once the embryo has been transferred back into you, the IVF embryo will move closer to the uterus wall and if at blastocyst stage will start to hatch and attach to the wall. A non-blastocyst embryo will need to grow more before it hatches and attaches to the uterus wall.
To increase the chances of success I recommend following these expert tips:
- Have acupuncture before your embryo transfer as it will reduce your anxiety, stress and increase blood flow to your uterus
- Place a hot water bottle on your lower abdomen but not afterwards
- Don't wear any cosmetics use soaps that contain perfumes as this can affect bonding of the embryo to you
- Try to relax and visualise positive thoughts of the embryp transfer going well beforehand
- Eat warm foods rather than cold foods as this will aid blood flow to your uterus
- Wear warm clothing to keep your tummy warm
- If possible, get someone to take you to the IVF clinic
3. After the transfer
To help increase the chance of the embryo implanting and the IVF treatment being successful, I recommend these tips post transfer:
- Have IVF acupuncture to prevent uterine contractions
- After the embryo transfer procedure lie down for a while
- Take folic acid together with a good quality prenatal supplement
- Rest as much as you can
- Lie down and visualise your energy and blood going to your uterus and you welcoming the embryo into your uterus lining
- Carry on with your normal activities but act as if you are pregnant
- Sleep early, no later than 10pm
- Have acupuncture to assist with embryo implantation as this increases pregnancy rates
- Staying positive is important. Research has shown being positive increases success rates of an IVF cycle
- If you feel anxious, take a breath in and say "I" and breathe out and say "surrender"
- During the two week wait, try to distract yourself with nice things, lunch with friends or family or watch TV box sets
- Don't watch any scary movies as being shocked and scared can affect the embryo implanting. Watch comedies or Disney instead
- It is good to eat warm foods after embryo transfer, just don't place any warm objects on your lower abdomen
- It is good to drink hot water after embryo transfer. Drinking warm water is actually good for your digestion and therefore your fertility
- Have a shower instead of a hot bath
These tips apply to women who are using their own eggs or donor eggs and for all types of fertility treatment.
4. Don'ts after embryo transfer
Here is a list of things to not do after embryo transfer:
- Don't do any high impact exercise, like running
- Don't do anything heavy lifting
- Don't have hot baths or use a sun bed or sauna
- Don't eat any shell fish, blue cheese, unpaterised diary, uncooked meats, sushi and processed meats
- Don't place any heat on your abdomen. If you're cold, put heat on your lower back instead
- Don't take the pregnancy test early as it could give a false negative result