As a midwife, I often hear the same conversations coming up again and again.
And one of the most common goes something like this.
A mum-to-be will tell me, 'We tried to conceive for two years, becoming increasingly desperate as time ticked by without success. But then, the minute we actually stopped 'trying' and chilled-out about it, I fell pregnant straight away!'
Chances are you've heard this same story yourself.
Some might dismiss it as nothing more than a coincidence.
But as a practitioner of complementary therapies, like hypnotherapy for fertility, it's my overwhelming belief that keeping your stress in check is vital for women either looking to fall pregnant naturally or for those who are going through IVF.
Of course, it's easy for people to say, 'just relax'. In reality, the pressure of going through IVF causes immense stress in your body.
And when the body is stressed-out, it goes into the fight or flight mode, where your hormones are actually telling your body NOT to conceive as it perceives there to be danger.
Dismiss it as 'new age' or 'hippy' if you want, but it's here where techniques like acupuncture and hypnobirthing can really help to make your journey to motherhood more pleasurable.
Take acupuncture, for example.
A recent study in China found that needles outperformed traditional fertility medications when it came to pregnancy rates, as boffins praised the ancient remedy for 'normalising hormonal regulation'.
Acupuncture works brilliantly for IVF patients, particularly when a patient has it both immediately before and after embryo transfer.
It genuinely helps.
The logic is this: acupuncture produces neurotransmitters which influence a woman's menstrual cycle and these feel-good endorphins flow around the body and help with pain release.
This then has a knock-on effect for the nervous system, helping to make the lining of the uterus more receptive to the embryo when it's transferred during IVF implantation.
Stress-busting acupuncture also helps to promote the relaxation of the cervix, which helps the actual transfer and wards off painful cramps.
The key word in all of this is 'relaxation' and it starts from the second you decide to try for a child.
Some women make the mistake of believing they need to go beyond peak physical condition to conceive, going on crash diets or embarking on a gruelling exercise plan.
They start stressing, overdoing it, when really they should be enjoying everything in moderation.
Is a low fat diet going to help? No. Your body craves essential fats - as well as protein and vitamins - and you should carry on putting them in your mouth.
Do you really want to be soaking your beans for 24 hours before you eat them? Probably not - you need to find an eating plan that fits in with your lifestyle, otherwise you'll end up getting tense about it.
And as for exercising, doing too much can actually affect your menstrual cycle - even causing your periods to stop - and that's clearly not good at all for fertility.
Meanwhile something like hypnobirthing - where we teach deep relaxations techniques to take the pain out of labour and childbirth - won't just help you feel more relaxed for the arrival of your little bundle of joy, it's a life skill which you can carry through into parenthood, helping you to laugh at things and look on the bright side of life, instead of getting worked up about it.
To kick things off, here's my stress-free guide to nutrition and fertility:
1. Aim to be a healthy weight and BMI. Being either overweight or underweight isn't helpful for fertility, though patients with high BMI can often still be treated for IVF privately.
2. Include Healthy fats in your diet - don't go fat free. You need essential fats for optimum fertility. Include oily fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil.
3. Manage stress levels as best you can with moderate exercise, medication, relaxation.
4. Go for moderate alcohol intake, not excessive, and have none when there is a chance of pregnancy.
5. Supplement with a fertility multivitamin including folic acid. If your BMI is over 30 check with your GP if you need additional folic acid.
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more