Feeling overwhelmed as you juggle fertility treatment, work, and your responsibilities at home? You are not alone. In the U.S., we work an average of 34.4 hours per week… and I know many of you reading this spend much more time on your job than that! Meanwhile, at home, the laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, and calendar management are never quite done.
Now, you’re throwing fertility treatment into the mix. Spending time at fertility clinic consults, appointments for blood work and sonograms, managing medications and performing injections, having procedures done, and beyond. If you add up the hours involved, IVF can feel just as demanding (if not more) than an actual job.
If you can feel your pulse quickening, take a deep breath. I don’t say all of this to overwhelm you, but rather to point out how important it is that you prioritize yourself. Having a plan to mitigate the stress of undergoing IVF while working will help you remain feeling calm, capable, and in control.
Here are 5 keys to consider as you manage IVF and work.
1. Put Yourself First
During IVF, you have full permission to put yourself first and carve out regular time for self-care. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, during fertility treatment it is crucial to prioritize yourself and manage your stress levels. Activities you might enjoy include baking, journaling, gentle yoga, reading, or walks outside. Also, be sure not to over-commit your precious time. It’s important to be social and volunteer if you find it helps, but protect yourself from saying yes to everything you’re invited to or asked to participate in.
2. Ask for Help Outside of Work
Consider where you can use support with day to day tasks. If you’re used to managing everything yourself, I know asking for help is difficult. You may initially feel like there isn’t anything you could possibly pass over to someone else. But this isn’t forever, and letting go of responsibilities is necessary to help you focus on what’s most important: Taking care of your mind, body, and emotions during fertility treatment. Think through your typical days and weeks and jot down the tasks that others can manage for a while. What can your partner take over around the house? Can you hire someone to help with cleaning or landscaping? Can your friends or family help with meal prep or taking the dog out for a walk? Every little bit helps, and you’ll thank yourself for planning ahead.
3. Communicate Your Needs at Work
Treatment can, and often does, interfere with work schedules. Make sure you understand your basic timeline and important estimated dates ahead. Procedures like an egg retrieval or embryo transfer cannot be moved or rescheduled. Don’t be afraid to ask your care team questions if you’re not sure. While it can be scary to open up about your fertility journey at work, many patients are surprised by how accommodating and helpful management can be during this time. Be up front with HR so they can help you rearrange your schedule or find coverage, as needed. But remember that you can be as vague or detailed as you are comfortable. For example, “I’ll be having a number of medical appointments over the next few weeks. I will do my best to be on time and prepare coverage in advance but I want to make sure you are aware so you can plan accordingly.”
4. Reframe How You Think About Your Time at Work
You may think work is the last place you’ll want to be during your treatment timeline, but many patients find that going to work during IVF helps in an unexpected way: It keeps their mind off of the worry of conceiving. If you’re open to it, work can serve as a retreat from the pressures of infertility. Instead of thinking about your egg retrieval or transfer, at work you may be able to stay in the moment and focus on the task at hand. This simple reframe can help you stay positive and optimistic, and we can all use more of that!
5. Take Time Off
If you have the luxury, take some time off work, and even consider taking more time than you think you’ll need. You know fertility treatment will be physically taxing, but you may not realize how helpful it can be to plan time off to heal emotionally from the rollercoaster of IVF.
Whether it’s setting aside time for self-care, asking for more support at home, or taking time off work to prevent exhaustion, you’ll do a better job balancing work and fertility treatment if you do what you need to stay mentally and physically healthy.
Embrace Fertility offers IVF Cycle Coaching, 1:1 Fertility Support, and Fertility Wellness Programs for your complete fertility and IVF journey. Click here to learn more.