What should you do in the Two Week Wait?

For most people, it’s probably the worst part of an IVF cycle – the notorious 2ww when you get to spend a fortnight (which seems to last about ten years) on tenterhooks, worried about everything you do and don’t do in case it affects the chances of a positive outcome. One of the most frequently asked questions is what you should and shouldn’t do during this time.

You will find all kinds of advice from all kinds of experts about activities, diet and supplements during the two week wait. There are those who advise that you should take the time off work and do as little as possible, spending the first day or two lying on the sofa. Others may advise going back to work right away to try to keep your mind occupied and suggest that it’s best for your mind and body to keep active and busy. I’ve heard of people drinking pints of milk and others avoiding dairy products.  There are women who don’t take baths because they might overheat, and others who are lying around with hot water bottles on their stomachs.

If you visit any fertility forum, you will find it awash with questions and suggestions about the two week wait. Some are quite bizarre – a quick trawl produced all the usual stuff about eating pineapple core and brazil nuts, but the idea that you shouldn’t eat anything uncooked and that you need to wear socks 24 hours a day were both new ones to me!

I will always remember the nurse who cared for us during our first IVF cycle telling me that any rules about what not to do during the two week wait weren’t really set because they would cause an embryo not to implant or induce a miscarriage but rather because they were things that fertility patients often worried about. So, having a glass of wine during the two week wait is not going to stop you getting pregnant, but if your treatment doesn’t work and you’ve had a glass of wine, you are likely to question whether it was to blame.

I think the bottom line with all of this is that if you are sufficiently worried to be asking whether it is OK to do something, it’s probably a good idea not to do it. Two weeks seems a lifetime during the 2ww, but in reality it isn’t a long period to have to give anything up. There are no hard and fast rules, but following your own instincts and doing what feels right for you rather than allowing yourself to be driven to distraction by conflicting suggestions is probably the best advice anyone can give you about what to do and not to do.

Free fertility support

Cmhc-LqWYAAWk88In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the numbers of people offering fertility support services – often at premium prices from people who have no relevant qualifications and limited knowledge or expertise. What many people don’t realise is that the national charity, Fertility Network UK, provides an amazing range of support services which are all completely free.

The Fertility Network Support Line, run by a former fertility nurse, Diane, offers a unique fertility support service. Diane has a wealth of experience and has worked for the charity for more than 20 years, She can help not only with minor medical questions but provide you with the help you need based on her years of experience, and all calls to her are in complete confidence.

The Support Line has often been described as a ‘lifeline’ by those dealing with fertility issues. It is very normal to feel isolated, out of control, lonely or depressed when dealing with infertility, and Diane is there to help. No question is too trivial to ask and even if you just want to talk you can give her a call on 0121 323 5025 between 10am – 4pm on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or email her at support@fertilitynetworkuk.org.

Of course, that’s not all the charity has to offer. You can find a wide range of support groups right across the UK, an online community, a Facebook page and masses of information. Do check it out now at fertilitynetwork.org and save the money you were about to spend – or perhaps consider donating it!

Advice on fertility from a range of therapists

Logo_oficThe magazine Fertility Road has produced a guide of tips for anyone who is trying unsuccessfully to conceive covering a range of different categories – complementary therapies, diet and nutrition, male fertility and vitamins and supplements. The tips come from a range of complementary therapists and other practitioners working in the field.

Some are more evidence-based than others when it comes to actually boosting your fertility, but there’s a lot to think about and some useful tips and suggestions for ways to help yourself to feel better apart from anything else. I particularly like author Jessica Hepburn’s thoughts about not stopping following all the other dreams you have for your life – as many of you will know, Jessica followed hers to swim the Channel and then climb Mount Kilimanjaro!

Why not take a look here, and see if you can find something that resonates with you.

Support from Infertility Network UK

800px-Hungarian_Telephone_Factory_1937_BudapestDid you know that you can get support and advice completely free of charge from Infertility Network UK’s Supportline service?

Run by a wonderful nurse, the Supportline offers a confidential source of help to anyone experiencing fertility problems.

The Supportline is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am until 4pm and you can find more details about how to access this invaluable source of information and support on the Infertility Network UK website. 

Making sense of the science

ivf_science-300x168If you live or work in London and are having IVF treatment, you might be interested in joining the Central London fertility group meeting on the evening of November 12 where an embryologist will be present to answer your questions.  She’ll be able to talk about what happens in the lab, about embryo development, about fertilisation and about new treatments. There will also be time at the meeting to chat with others who are going through fertility tests and treatments and who understand what it is like.

The Central London group is run by Infertility Network UK and is a friendly group which is open to all. There is no charge for attending and no need to book in advance. If you’re interested, you can contact Kate for more details – katebrian@infertilitynetworkuk.com

Free fertility support from a qualified nurse

images-2Did you know that Infertility Network UK  offers a unique and free service which provides support and advice from a qualified nurse? The lovely Diane has years of nursing experience, and has been working for the charity for many years. You can contact her direct on the Supportline which is open to all on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am until 4pm. For overseas callers, she can be reached via a pre-booked Skype call, if you contact her to arrange a mutually convenient day and time.

These services offer support to those experiencing isolation, loneliness, depression, loss of control and all the other feelings common to most of those going through fertility tests or treatment cycles. It’s an amazing service, and if you could benefit from talking to Diane – you can find out more about how to get in touch with her on the Infertility Network UK website here.

The Fertility Show – offer for Infertility Network UK members

header_510_graphicIf you’re a registered member of Infertility Network UK, you can qualify for a discount to visit this year’s Fertility Show on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd November 2014 at London’s Olympia Exhibition Centre.

With 100 different exhibitors and sixty seminars covering all aspects of fertility and treatment, with talks from many of the UK’s leading experts in the field, it offers a wealth of information to anyone trying to conceive.

Normal admission price is £11 in advance, £14 on the door, but Infertility Network UK registered members are entitled to a special offer if they book online – entry for 2 people for just £12 (tickets can be used on either day).

You can register to become a member of Infertility Network UK completely free of charge by clicking here and there are more details about the Fertility Show here 


Where to get advice and support

There may be 3.5 million people in the UK at any given time experiencing difficulty getting pregnant, but when it happens to you it often feels a very lonely and isolating business. There’s still a stigma attached to fertility problems, and we don’t always feel able to be open about them – which means that we don’t necessarily know when colleagues, friends or even family members are going through similar difficulties.

When you want advice or support, there are a growing number of support services that you can pay for but it can be difficult to know which are reliable and trustworthy. If you’re looking for counselling support for fertility, it’s essential to see someone who specialises in fertility problems and the best place to track them down is via the British Fertility Counselling Association website. If you’re looking for more general support and advice, there’s no need to pay at all as Infertility Network UK offers a huge range of different support services all completely free of charge.

spacer-4 images-11I was talking to a fertility nurse earlier this week who said she’d always known about Infertility Network UK, but was amazed when she’d seen quite how much the charity had to offer from helplines to factsheets, support groups to NHS-funding advice. It’s fantastic, it’s free – and it’s there just for you.

Be careful what you pay for….

Many years ago I worked on a breakfast television news programme on Channel Four, and every morning we would have a succession of guest arriving at the studios to talk about the news stories of the day. As being a guest on our programme meant getting up very early in the morning for a fairly small audience, we didn’t always attract the big names and we had a running joke in the newsroom that you qualified as an “expert” if you’d appeared on three breakfast TV shows.

I was reminded of this recently when I was talking to some specialists in the fertility field about the number of people who are now setting themselves up as fertility coaches, consultants or holistic therapists. Some of these people may have a wealth of experience and lots to offer.  There are others, however, who know no more about fertility than anyone who has been through a treatment cycle  – but have realised that there is a market for “advice” which they are happy to exploit.

If you are going to pay anyone to give you advice, please think carefullly about what it is that they are going to be offering you that you can’t get elsewhere without paying anything at all.  Infertility Network UK offers excellent support and information which is all completely free, and the charities working in more specific areas of fertility such as the Donor Conception Network or Verity for PCOS can offer tailored information for your situation. Your local fertility unit, the HFEA, the BFS and the RCOG are all sources of accurate medical information, and BICA has qualified fertility counsellors who can offer specialist support.  These are all people with expertise in fertility who provide information you can trust.

Do be careful before parting with money to pay for fertility “support services” or consultations.  Check exactly what qualifications the “consultant” or “coach” has, and make sure that you aren’t paying for services that are offered free of charge and more  accurately, efficiently and honestly elsewhere.