Here is a recap of some of the main themes, ideas, and strategies from the program:
Part A: Getting started
- Dealing with conception and fertility related issues can be very stressful, leading to anxiety, depression and grief. However, there are proven techniques for making the journey less arduous.
- Using a technique called Cognitive Behavior Therapy, we can alter our thoughts and behaviors to help us cope with fertility related stress.
- The arrival of a period is a particularly difficult time of the month, and there are several strategies to deal with it.
- Conception is a process that is largely outside of our control, and "trying to control the uncontrollable" will lead to frustration
- Be careful with ovulation calculators, as they can give a false sense of control.
- The idea that you are having trouble becoming pregnant because "you're trying too hard" is a common myth, and a very unhelpful one.
- The internet can be a helpful source of information and support. However, you do need to take some care, and there are some downsides.
- Be wary of stories about fertility in the media. News based on scientific research is often presented in a misleading way.
Part B: Behaviors
- It is important to identify behaviors that are "maladaptive". These are behaviors that are maintaining or causing problems in the long term.
- Once you have identified behaviors that may not be helpful, try experimenting with them to get a better understanding of their role in your life.
- Truly understanding your situation and the consequences of your behavior can be incredibly helpful tool for making positive changes in your life
- Given the same situation, no two people will think and behave it in exactly the same way. The way we behave a situation has a powerful impact on our mood.
Part C: Thoughts and worries
- As with unhelpful behaviors, we also need to identify unhelpful thoughts.
- Excessive worrying and rumination is not helpful, and "worry sessions" can be used to keep them to an acceptable level.
- Other types of unhelpful thoughts need to be challenged by asking yourself questions about them. Do you have evidence for the thought? Is it helpful?
- Grieving is natural for those who have difficulties with conception, and there are several type of loss that are common. It is important to let grieving run its course.
- There is always some level of uncertainty for those trying to have a child. It is important to accept that you have limited control over the situation, and have plans for all outcomes.
- Superstition can lead to an illusion of control, and false hope and self-blame. You should tackle superstitious thinking.
Part D: Relationships
- There is a lot of pressure from society for people to have children at a certain time in their life. This can make difficult situation even harder for those struggling with conception.
- Keeping your mind and body fit can help you deal with this pressure.
- Sharing your problems can be very helpful. However, be careful who you choose to share with. It can be helpful to have a social group that is unlikely to bring up the topic of pregnancy.
- Be prepared, both physically and mentally, for unhelpful comments about pregnancy or starting a family. It is almost inevitable that they will come.
- It can be helpful to write a letter that will help others know your wishes when it comes to talking about your situation.
- You are under no obligation to attend social events that are likely to upset you. If you do attend, you should have a plan for how you will deal with questions about children. It's also good to have an exit strategy.
- Conception problems can also strain your relationship. It is important to work on keeping your relationship strong, both physically and emotionally.
Part E: Redefine your life
- You should not put your life on hold while you are trying to conceive. This will only make the situation more stressful.
- Think carefully about your passions and goals in life. Try to use this time to pursue a passion of yours.
- Avoid making future plans that are dependent on becoming pregnant. This holds for your career as well -- "don't leave before you leave".
- The idea of a future without a child may be unfathomable. There is nothing anyone can say to convince you that "you're better off without a child", nor should they try. However, research suggests that people tend to live happy lives, even when they don't get what they desire most.
- Fostering relationships with other children in your life is not a replacement for having a child. However, it can be a rich and rewarding experience.
And most importantly of all:
It is within your power to live a happy life.