Whether you have been trying to conceive for a month or a year, the process of deciding to have a child and then accurately hitting that magical window of fertile time can be a stressful process. Let's face it, charting your basal body temperature and counting down the days to ovulation...not very romantic. Suddenly now, you are aware of your biological clock, the timing necessary for conception and the LONG two week wait where you can do anything but stay calm.
Unfortunately, stress plays a very big role in achieving pregnancy. According to WebMD, a study was done by the National Institutes of Health along with the UK's University of Oxford about the effect of stress when trying to conceive. They found that women who's stress levels were elevated were 12% less likely each month to get pregnant than the women who's stress levels were low.
Fertility and Sterility published an article stating that women who were under a lot of stress when undergoing IVF (in-vitro fertilization) produced less eggs than those who did not report high stress levels. They also conducted research in which they found IVF patients who participated in a mind/body program throughout their cycle had a 52% success rate, while those who did not only had a 20% success rate.
With all the research pointing toward the negative effects of stress on the ability to conceive, it seems only natural to try to keep as calm and relaxed as possible throughout your journey. Of course, in today's world of working, bills, appointments and even other children that's easier said than done - which is why yoga is so essential as part of your preconception prep.
Yoga not only allows you to work your body, but also your mind and your breathing. Throughout a workout, you focus on clearing your mind, listening to your body and taking deep, steady breaths in and out. Just writing about it is calming! Practicing yoga even a few times a week will allow you to reduce your stress level and also learn the deep breathing and relaxation techniques that may help you deal with a stressful situation later on that week. (not to mention it's going to payoff big time when you get pregnant and are going into labor...breathe, breathe, breathe...)
Yoga is becoming so popular for dealing with infertility and women trying to conceive that there are classes and studios popping up all over just for that reason. Of course, yoga is not going to be a magic bullet that suddenly clears a blocked tube or overcomes PCOS issues - but it will help to make your fertility treatments more successful by putting you into a more relaxed state.
So, here are a few yoga poses that are particularly beneficial for fertility. Try 'em out and see what you think!
This pose will open your hips and increase blood flow to the pelvis - which is key in getting an embryo to implant in the uterine wall. To perform this pose, sit with your back straight and your weight on your "butt" bones. Touch the bottoms of your feet together and grab your toes. Try pressing your knees as far down to the floor as you can. Inhale deep through your nose and exhale through your nose. Try to focus on making your inhale and your exhale both the same length.
This pose will also help to open your hips, strengthen your lower back and your pelvic floor - again increasing blood flow. You will get a deeper stretch from Garland than you will from Cobbler's but it is also slightly harder. To perform this pose, stand with your feet a little wider than shoulder width apart and slowly bend your knees to lower yourself down into the position. Keep yourself stable by pushing your elbows into your knees, and keeping your hands together. Once in the pose, take long deep inhales and exhales through your nose.
This pose helps to tighten and strengthen the connection between your hips, pelvis and back. It also can lend itself to improved circulation and stimulation of the endocrine and immune systems. To perform this pose, lay on your back with your knees bent and arms flat against the floor. On an exhale, begin by lifting your buttocks off the floor then slowly lifting the rest of your back, one vertebrae at a time - as if you are peeling your back off the floor. Once fully extended, take 10-15 deep breaths in and out through your nose. Release on an exhale, slowly just like you raised. Repeat 2-3 times.
Hopefully some of these poses will not only help you strengthen the pelvis but also relax a little bit. Fertility challenges are incredibly stressful (they have even been compared in a Harvard study to the stress levels experienced by women with cancer or other life-threatening illnesses). It's important to get proper amounts of rest, eat a healthy and well-balanced diet, and keep your stress levels down. Whether trying on your own, or going through infertility treatments - yoga will play a key role in preparing your body, and your mind, for success.