One of the hardest parts of an IVF would have to be the waiting game after the embryos are transferred into your uterus. Unfortunately, even if an egg is successfully fertilized, there’s no guarantee that it will be able to implant into the uterine lining and begin a pregnancy.
But are there steps you can take to help make one stick? Let’s look at some lifestyle tips to help you make it through the anxious time after embryo transfer – and hopefully tip the scales of fate in your favor.
Bed rest after embryo transfer: Is it necessary?
After the transfer phase of IVF cycle, it can take 3 to 5 days for an embryo to implant. Your fertility specialist may advise you to take it easy during that time frame. But does that mean you should hunker down in a blanket fort and go on bed rest for the rest of the week? Well, not exactly.
In the early days of IVF, the embryo transfer process was a little more involved, and moms were advised to stay on strict bed rest for at least 24 hours afterwards – sometimes up to two weeks! These days, however, embryo transfer is done as an outpatient procedure. Recent studies have shown that bed rest doesn’t seem to have any positive effect.
What not to do after embryo transfer
On the whole, it doesn’t seem like implantation failure is caused by excess activity. Unless your doctor advises you otherwise, it’s OK to go about your normal daily activities. However, there are activities you want to avoid after embryo transfer.
The first 24 or so hours of after transfer are the most important for implantation. It’s important that the embryos remain in the uterine cavity to avoid the risk of a dangerous ectopic pregnancy. Therefore, you’ll probably want to avoid:
After embryo transfer, you’re going to need to avoid strenuous exercise, particularly if it involves heavy lifting or bouncing motions (And for the record, yes, this includes heavy sexual activity.)
Baths and swimming
Showering is fine, but baths and jacuzzis have you submerge. This can raise your body temperature, and embryos don’t like it. Further to this, swimming pools and hot tubs could expose you to germs – also best avoided when you’re waiting for implantation.
Alcohol and smoking
Alcohol hasn’t been shown to be safe at any point in pregnancy, and smoking is an absolute no-no. When you smoke, your blood vessels constrict – including those in the uterus. Studies suggest that smoking reduces your chances of IVF succeeding, so it’s best to talk to your doctor about quitting alcohol and smoking before trying to conceive.
Improving implantation after embryo transfer
There’s no magic formula that will guarantee implantation after embryo transfer, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely powerless.
Don’t stress about stress
When you’re trying to conceive, you’ll probably hear some well-meaning variation of, “Just relax and you’ll get pregnant”. But IVF can be draining at the best of times, so being told “don’t stress” could just leave you stressing about the fact that you’re stressed!
The good news is recent research suggests psychological stress doesn’t reduce the chances of IVF implantation, after all.
You may have thought this was an old wives’ tale, but there could be a grain of truth to it after all! While there’s not enough evidence to say pineapples will increase the odds of implantation, they are a source of bromelain which supports blood flow to the uterus, and selenium which helps healthy development of the uterine lining. If a serving of pineapple is what you feel like, go ahead!
A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility shows something interesting: compared to controls, IVF patients who were entertained by a medical clown were more likely to get pregnant!1If you don’t have access to your own personal Patch Adams, maybe chilling out with your favorite sit-com could do in a pinch?
Go easy on yourself after embryo transfer
For your own peace of mind, it’s best to stay home or chill out for the day or two after a transfer. If you’ve been wanting to catch up on your favorite shows, it’s a good time for a binge watch! While you don’t need strict bed rest, you also don’t need to push yourself.
However, IVF can be a stressful process. If you’re not successful, it’s easy to start beating yourself up or thinking, “If only I hadn’t done that…” Sometimes, though, it really does come down to the luck of the draw. As long as you look after yourself and take it easy for the first few days, you’ll be doing your very best to encourage implantation.