What can you do once you begin your IVF cycle to support a successful implantation and pregnancy? This is a major concern for many of our clients preparing for an upcoming IVF, and for good reason. We suggest that women going for IVF take at least 3-6 months prior to beginning medications for the procedure, to prepare their body naturally for pregnancy and to increase their chance of success. So, once a woman begins her medications for IVF, what can she do to continue to support her body while simultaneously increasing her odds of achieving a healthy pregnancy?
The Best Natural Ways to Support the Body During IVF
The following ideas are what you can do during your IVF cycle or when you’re running low on time to prepare.
This would seem like it is a given, but if you are currently not taking a prenatal multivitamin, but rather a preconception multivitamin, it may be time to switch. The month prior to planned pregnancy is a great time to give the body the nutrition it needs for pregnancy. We really love Baby and Me Multivitamin. It is made from 100% whole foods and is gentle on the stomach (important with the emotional stress and nervous tension that often arises during IVF).
Smoothies with Superfoods & Fresh Juices
Smoothies and fresh juices are two great ways to keep you on track with healthy eating and they align with our fertility diet guidelines. They both help provide the body with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to smoothies you can add in superfood supplements to make your smoothies into a meal. We love fertility superfoods, but some superfoods are not safe to combine with fertility medications commonly used during IVF.
- Superfoods to add to smoothies – Organic Spirulina is a protein, vitamin rich blue-green algae. Preliminary studies show that supplementation through pregnancy with spirulina may help to prevent preeclampsia.
Another superfood we love is FertiliWhey protein powder from grass-fed, free range cows. Why? It too is an excellent protein source at 16g. per serving. Protein is required for the building of body tissues, including the formation of your baby. Getting enough protein during the first trimester may also help to deter morning sickness.
These two supplements are a great way to boost nutrition levels and are safe to continue throughout your pregnancy.
What to avoid – Royal Jelly, Maca, Shatavari or anything that contains these (ie. FertiliGreens). This is because these have an action on hormones and doctors want a very controlled hormonal environment in order to achieve a positive outcome – pregnancy!
Juicing is an excellent way to give the body fresh nutrients from a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, without the pulp, so they are quickly absorbed and utilized by the body. Juicing is a delicious way to greatly boost nutrition levels. To learn how to juice click here…
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is an abundant source of omega-3 essential fatty acids, namely EPA and DHA. These two acids have been shown to be absolutely critical to proper brain and nervous system development in your baby. Cod liver oil is also an excellent source of fat soluble vitamins D3 and A.
Benefits of cod liver oil supplementation:
- Supports healthy mood and behavior – great to help prevent depression and postpartum depression
- Supports healthy circulation to the reproductive organs
- Aids hormone regulation
- Supports cellular health
- Important for proper brain, eye, central nervous system and heart development
- May help prevent low birth weight and premature birth weight
- Aids bone development, immune system function, gene transcription, eye development and cell proliferation – all very important for pregnancy and a healthy baby!
Uterine Calming Herbs for Implantation Support
One aspect of IVF that weighs heavy on a woman’s mind is implantation. Soon you will have a healthy embryo (or more) for transfer, now all that needs to take place for pregnancy to occur is implantation. A calm uterus is going to be more receptive to implantation.
The time leading up to transfer is a great time to focus on your uterus and nervous system. The herbal blend UteriCalm is an excellent way to help calm and prepare the uterus for implantation. This liquid blend contains herbs that not only calm, relax and prepare the uterus for implantation, they work to support the nervous system, so your body will better handle the potential stress, anxiety and worry of the outcome of this procedure. The herbs in this blend have been shown to be supportive of early pregnancy through the first trimester. In addition, none of these herbs has an action on the hormonal system, so they are considered safe in most cases* to use at the same time you are on medications for IVF.
If you haven’t been receiving this natural treatment regularly, it would be a good time to book an appointment with your local acupuncturist. Several studies show that acupuncture can increase the likelihood of pregnancy in patients going for IVF.
We have some articles that cover this extensively, with great details on the best times to get the acupuncture treatments done…
How to Manage the Side Effects of Treatment
Don’t Forget Your Mind, Body and Spirit
Your mental and emotional state is very important to take care of during this sensitive and often stressful time. We have some mind and body practices that we feel are very effective at keeping you positive and focused on a successful outcome – a healthy pregnancy!
- Circle and Bloom – they have an excellent IVF preparation guide meditation/visualization program!
- The Fertile Mind Assisted Conception Program
- Write in your journal
- Go dancing – you won’t regret it!
Very Gentle Liver Support
During the IVF cycle you may be taking a variety of hormonal medications which can be taxing on the liver. We find that very gentle herbal liver support with Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) is a great way to support and protect your liver throughout this procedure.
Dandelion root liquid extract (tincture) or decoction daily is a great way to gently support liver health, without altering how the body utilizes the medications you are taking. Dandelion is also a bitter herb; stimulating digestion, which will help your body digest and utilize the foods you are eating!
Dandelion root decoction: 2-8 grams dried root simmered over low heat in a cup of water for 15-20 minutes. Strain and drink one cup, 3 times a day.
A great resource for dried herbs is Mountain Rose Herbs.
Dandelion Tincture: In general 30 drops in a small cup of water, 3 times a day.
Great resources for Dandelion tincture are Elk Mountain Herbs or Herb Pharm.
8 Ways to Support Your Body Through IVF
Here is a quick guide to what you can do to support your body through your IVF procedure…
1. Eat a nutrient dense fertility diet and take your prenatal multivitamin
2. Gentle exercise such as simple yoga poses, brisk walking
3. Drink a fresh smoothie or juice daily – add in Organic Spirulina and FertiliWhey Protein
4. Supplement with Cod Liver Oil – continue through pregnancy and breastfeeding
5. UteriCalm – through the first trimester of pregnancy*
7. Meditate, say positive affirmations or practice another mind, body and spirit practice – daily
8. Dandelion root – daily – discontinue after transfer
May your IVF be successful!
* As always, it is best to check with your doctor before beginning any new herbal supplement.
Romm, A. (2010). Plant Profiles: Summary Table of Herbs for Women’s Health. In Botanical medicine for women’s health (pp. 568). St. Louis, Mo.: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
A note from Dalene – All hyperlinks in this article are also references.
- Fertility Herb Guide: Absent Period & Lack Of Menstruation
- Success Story: With Focus on Preconception Health, Kara Conceives Her 8th Child
- PCOS Support: Tools To Help You Stay Positive
- Success Story: Natural Therapies Help Stephanie Start & Grow Her Family
- Fertility Tip: How to Enhance Fertility After IUD Removal