You may be told there is not much difference between a natural pregnancy and one through assisted reproductive technology (ART). One of the biggest differences is that in the case of a natural pregnancy, the woman may not be aware for about a month after conceiving the baby. In the case of an ART process, however, such as in-vitro fertilization (IVF), getting pregnant is a very conscious process, right from preparing your body for ovulation, implantation of the embryo and complete term pregnancy.
Prepare your body for IVF
There are few thumb rules to follow when you decide to opt for IVF or any other route to get pregnant through ART, says Dr Gauri Agarwal, Founder, Seeds of Innocence and IVF Expert. These are:
1. Quit smoking, and stop alcohol consumption or any other substance abuse. According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, nicotine concentration in the uterine fluid is ten times higher than the rest of your body. The component is also known to hasten ageing of the ovaries and hampers eggs’ capability to fertilize. Studies have also shown correlations between alcohol consumption and a reduced likelihood of both successes and live birth after IVF treatment.
2. Consult your doctor and start taking prenatal vitamins. Prenatal vitamins and nutrients comprise folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, B vitamins, zinc and iodine that help avert birth defects in the child and promote healthy development of the brain and bone. It is better to start taking these 3 to 6 months before the implantation.
3. Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. Nothing beats the importance of a well-balanced diet containing the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, calcium, and other nutrients – add eggs, milk, fish, nuts, seeds and oats in your diet, unless you are allergic to any. Besides, get sun exposure in the mornings for 15-20 minutes to help your body get vitamin D that will help in processing the calcium you are taking in.
4. Drink adequate fluid such as water or fresh fruit juice; limit caffeine intake. Drinking plain water helps in flushing out toxins better, but be careful not to overdo. Alternatively, you can also drink juice extracted from fresh fruits instead of packed ones to avoid extra sugar and harmful preservatives. Limit your caffeine intake to 2 small cups a day to reduce the toxins accumulation in your body.
5. Reduce stress and improve sleep. Stress can be counterproductive to pregnancy and breathing exercises and the right amount of sleep can help to a great extent. Stick to a routine for going to bed and waking up. Avoid using the bedroom for work and do not have a TV, phone or tablet in there. Include moderate outdoor exercises in your routine to help align the body and brain with natural biorhythms.
Care after implantation
For the first few weeks, a natural and an IVF pregnancy will require an equal amount of care and attention. Since you are aware of the exact moment the embryo is implanted in the womb after your human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone levels are in the right quantity, many women tend to become conscious, bordering and even causing anxiety. This can interfere with the implantation process. Be in control of your mind to help the pregnancy complete the crucial 3-4 weeks.
Be in touch with your doctor if you feel tired, cramped, bloated, nauseated, or experience frequent mood swings. These may be signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) and will require clinical examination. Continued monitoring may be suggested for hCG, oestrogen, and progesterone levels and other health parameters to avoid any pregnancy risks and complications.