Discover how stress can affect your chances of getting pregnant and what you can do to relax.
When all your best efforts at baby-making go unfulfilled, it's easy to become frustrated. Plus, when your friends are telling you to 'just relax' and assuring you 'it will happen when the time is right', you may find yourself getting angrier by the second. Unfortunately all this does is add to the vicious cycle of stress which can be hard to overcome.
If you are also feeling the pressure of other sources of stress in your life, such as work commitments or family relationships, you may be feeling more stressed than ever. This can be hard to overcome and can all add to a build-up of unwanted anxiety.
How can stress affect chances of conception?
Some scientific studies have shown that periods of prolonged stress can interfere with your chances of conceiving, by affecting the hypothalamus. This is a gland in your brain that, among other things, regulates the hormones required to control ovulation. When you are under stress you may therefore ovulate less often or less regularly than when you are feeling more relaxed.
Science aside, stress can be one of the contributing factors to a loss of libido. If you or your partner are feeling stressed or anxious, you are simply less likely to be in the mood to make love. Therefore your chances of getting pregnant can be less when you are stressed.
What can I do to reduce stress?
If you are trying for a baby, chances are you will get frustrated with yourself or your partner if months go by and you still aren't getting a positive reading on your pregnancy test. Instead of the fun and playfulness of making love that you experienced before trying to conceive, you may find that love-making becomes strictly about baby-making, and therefore has an added pressure it didn't used to have.
The stresses and strains of work or family commitments could also be adding to your feelings of stress. So how can you lower your stress levels when trying for a baby? Trying one or all of the following is a good start to reducing your feelings of stress and anxiety, and by doing so increase your chances of pregnancy.
Relax your mind and body
Talk about it
- One of the most important things is to take time to rest. Set aside some time where you won't be disturbed, even if it's just half an hour, and do something you enjoy. Don't feel guilty about just 'doing nothing' - it's important that your mind and body are relaxed. Try having a hot bubble bath, watching a film, or reading a book.
- Exercising is also very important when trying to fall pregnant. It will ensure your body is in tip-top condition, and will help to relax you and ease tension. Exercise routines like yoga or pilates are especially effective for lowering stress levels.
- A balanced diet is also key. Making sure you get a good nutritional variety of proteins, vitamins and minerals is enormously helpful both for lowering your stress and ensuring you are fit and well.
- Other therapies such as massage, meditation and reflexology will go a long way towards helping you relax. Breathing exercises may also be beneficial.
Be an optimist
- Try not to bottle up your feelings if you are experiencing stress. It will do you the world of good if you share what you are going through with those around you.
- Talk to your partner, your best friend, or why not visit the AskBaby forums for advice and reassurance from those that are going through the same experiences as you.
- Consider writing in a journal if you would prefer. This way you can express things you are feeling, and hopefully gain perspective - which will help to reduce stress.
- Don't be hard on yourself. If you feel frustrated and upset with yourself, you will only increase your feelings of stress. Treat yourself when you are feeling down, and try to practise feelings of calm and patience.
- The more feelings of optimism you have while trying to get pregnant, the more likely you are to be successful - optimism is the perfect antidote to stress.
- Try to resist comparing your own situation with those around you. It may be very disheartening to see others seemingly falling pregnant at the drop of a hat, when you have been trying for months. But remember that everyone's situation is different, and feelings of jealousy or exasperation will only put you under more pressure than is necessary.
- Try to remain relaxed with your partner. If love-making becomes solely about baby-making, you will both feel anxious about the event instead of enjoying what comes naturally.
Keep in mind that conceiving a baby can be a great time in your lives, so approach it with a sense of fun and playfulness. If you feel your stress levels rising take a deep breath and try your best to stay calm - and let nature take its course.