Coping with new restrictions which have temporarily postponed fertility treatment
For those of you who are struggling with this news, we wanted to offer support and share advice from Melissa Stephens, fertility counsellor.
Many women and couples this week will have learnt the news from the Government’s announcement (on 25 March 2020),that non-urgent elective surgery has been temporarily suspended, which means they aren’t able to start their fertility treatment.
For those of you who are struggling with this news, we wanted to offer support and share advice from Melissa Stephens, fertility counsellor at IVFAustralia. Melissa agrees, many of the feelings women and couples are experiencing right now are feelings of grief.
We know many will be heartbroken, many will have chosen 2020 as the year to have a baby, but now their treatment has been put on hold.
Putting their hopes and dreams on hold is tough and for some it’s a feeling of sheer disbelief. Particularly for those who missed out on treatment by literally a number of days, because they were waiting for their period to start and this month it started a few days later so they weren’t able to start their treatment.
Women in their late 30s and early 40s will be particularly struggling as they are already super aware that their biological clocks are ticking. They will have heard from various sources that they need to get on with treatment soon and now they are being told to wait.
The other factor increasing anxiety is not knowing how long these restrictions will last for; it’s the uncertainty and the lack of control of the situation that is escalating anxiety.
The situation is heightened because everyone is feeling emotionally affected by the pandemic. People are worrying that they might be losing their jobs, worried about their elderly parents, worried about their own health. Every aspect of life there are feelings of uncertainty.
The feelings being experienced right now are stress, anger, feelings that they have lost control and frustration. Everyone is asking: Why is this happening now? Why is this affecting my plans?
Some people see these emotions as negative but they are real emotions and we have to see them for what they are.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the advice is to try and take each day as it comes, don’t think too far ahead, try and keep things in perspective as much as you can.
Make sure that you are reading factual advice, try limiting the amount of time you are watching the news and make sure your news sources are reliable.
Make sure you are taking care of your own health, so when the time comes to restart treatment, you’ll be in a good place to do that.
Take time to work on self-care, doing things that make you feel good and reach out to other people for support whether that’s a counsellor or close friend, or family.
Be careful with letting your fears escalate, with the current uncertainly it’s really easy to let your thoughts turn to catastrophe. Try to prevent your thoughts from escalating from, ‘well if I can’t fall pregnant now I will never fall pregnant’.
It’s better to try and live in the ‘now’ and see it as a temporary situation, and know that there will be a time when you can get back to your fertility treatment plan.
I would advise keeping busy and doing tasks that you can complete such as cleaning your home, puzzles, reading books, watching movies, cooking, things that have a beginning, a middle and an end are important. They make you feel like you have more control of a situation.
Reach out to friends, make use of Facetime, this is where you should be making use of social media. Connect with people that you care about.
Meditation, mindfulness, exercise are all important; lots of gyms and yoga studios are putting their classes online so try and get involved with these.
If you’re angry, it’s ok to be angry, anger is a normal response so don’t try and ignore it. My advice, just sit with the feelings and say I’m angry and it’s ok to be angry and in time, the wave of anger will pass.
Some people find it useful to journal their feelings, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed, sometimes writing it down helps.
There are situations where I would advise reaching out for professional help and these are if you’re experiencing feelings of hopelessness; if you’re mood is consistently quite low; if you’re not motivated to do anything; you’ve lost interest in things that you normally enjoy; you don’t want to speak to anyone; you’re not eating much and you can’t kick start yourself.
Or reach out for help if you feel like you’re family and friends don’t understand.
We’re here to help any patients with support and care during this challenging time. In addition to our specialist doctors, nurses and administration staff – who are all able to talk you through any concerns related to COVID-19, our team of counsellors are here for support and advice. Contact us on 1800 111 483 to learn about video or phone consultations.