For anyone undergoing IVF, embryo transfer day can be an anxious one – especially if you have never done it before and don’t quite know what to expect. I have had the honour of being part of hundreds of embryo transfers, performing acupuncture onsite at the fertility clinic around this procedure. Based on the questions and concerns that often arise, I have compiled a list of my top tips for helping your embryo transfer day go as smoothly as possible!
Get a Good Rest
Anticipation the night before any big event can make it difficult to unwind and fall asleep. You might want to start your evening routine early to leave time for extra wind down activities such as lighting candles, a warm shower, breathing exercises, writing in a gratitude journal, etc. Now is the perfect time to actually take the time to do whatever you find relaxing, soothing, and nourishing.
It might also be helpful to listen to a guided meditation to help you fall asleep. There are many wonderful free recordings out there (YouTube is a great source). Did you know there are also several guided meditation programs specific to IVF? Here are some links to the ones we have used in our clinic:
Have a Blood Sugar Balancing Breakfast
Embryo transfers typically take place late morning to early afternoon. You won’t want to be hungry or have your blood sugars crashing during the procedure. Blood sugar balance impacts your hormone balance (and plays a role in inflammation) so I always recommend having a warm breakfast with some healthy fat and protein to help keep your blood sugars steady throughout the morning. Warm or room temperature food and drinks are not only easier to digest and absorb, but unlike cold or icy food, they don’t divert as much blood flow to the stomach (and away from that nice uterine lining for example).
Almost every embryo transfer needs to be performed with a full bladder so that the physician can see what they are doing. Finding the sweet spot of having your bladder full enough but not too full is often the trickiest part of the whole day. Here is what I have found to work well:
Drink plenty of warm or room temperature water at home the morning of your transfer. Maybe a liter.
Empty your bladder right before you leave the house to go to the fertility clinic and bring a water bottle with you. Your body will continue to process the water you drank earlier and your bladder will begin to fill again on the way over.
If you are having acupuncture onsite before your embryo transfer, hold off drinking your water bottle until you are finished the treatment. You can then assess whether or not you even need to drink more. The goal is to feel like when the doctors are ready for you, you could definitely go to the washroom but you are not super uncomfortable or in pain. It is actually not helpful for the procedure to have a bladder that is overly full.
If you are not having any treatment before the embryo transfer, you will probably want to start sipping on your water bottle on the way to the clinic.
Remember your transfer may not happen exactly at the scheduled time. There are likely procedures before yours and sometimes issues occur that can cause a delay. If for some reason your transfer time is running late and your bladder is becoming uncomfortable, you will be able to let out a little bit of urine to help relieve the pressure. The nurses often provide you with a small cup to help know how much to let out. This may sound impossible but it actually works and helps a lot.
Bring Cozy Socks
You will not be wearing shoes into the procedure room so instead of having to wear scratchy paper booties over your bare feet, make sure to bring your favourite warm pair of socks.
Some people find it helpful to bring a small object or talisman that helps them feel calm, centred, and positive. Any charm that helps set an intention or feel more grounded is great. Crystals can work well for this – a polished piece of rose quartz or aventurine fits perfectly in the palm.
Prepare For The Anticlimax
The road to embryo transfer day can be long. You have probably been through so much preparing for this day and when it finally arrives, the procedure takes about 10 minutes! You arrive, change into your wrap skirt, receive your ID bracelet and some instructions, probably wait around for a bit, go into the procedure with a full bladder, have the transfer which you can watch on a monitor but don’t blink – it only takes about 10 minutes, then empty your bladder right away and go home! It can be disconcerting how quickly things happen and how little fanfare there is on the big day. This is just one of the reasons I find having acupuncture right before and after your embryo transfer can be helpful and change the experience from rushed and overwhelming to calm and mindful.
Book Your Transfer Day Acupuncture
As far as I am aware, every fertility clinic in the lower mainland that performs IVF procedures offers access to acupuncture onsite at their clinic on the day of your embryo transfer. Acupuncture directly before and right after embryo transfer has been shown to improve implantation rates by 15% as well as marked improvements in live birth rates. At Acubalance, we are the only clinic to offer this treatment onsite at Olive Fertility Centre and are one of the few clinics to offer painless laser acupuncture based on research showing the benefits of low light laser therapy to fertility and its use on embryo transfer day.
Physical benefits of acupuncture on this day include increasing blood flow to the uterine lining, helping to calm uterine spasming, calming the nervous system, and reducing cortisol levels. On top of the physical benefits, I find that acupuncture changes the whole transfer day experience in a positive way. When you arrive, you have your own personal guide to help you through the day. Whether it is figuring out how much water to drink, answering your questions, bringing you an extra blanket, or providing you with headphones and guided meditations to help you relax and stay calm, I see the benefits my patients receive both mind and body. It also allows for some extra time to process the experience.
Empty Your Bladder With Confidence
It is very important to empty your bladder post-transfer. This helps prevent uterine spasms and UTI’s – neither of which are helpful for implantation. It can feel very counter-intuitive to pee right after the embryo has been so carefully placed but please don’t worry – these are different plumbing systems! The embryo is in your uterus, not your bladder. It is physically impossible to pee it out as urine does not pass through this area. At all. Be confident.
Take It Easy But Keep Moving
You will likely want to take it easy after the transfer which is great. Take a nap if you need it, watch some comedy or other uplifting content, and have some warm nourishing food. Just don’t lie down all day. Unless you are told otherwise by the doctor, you are not on bed rest and it is important to get up and move around to keep your blood circulating. Walking is perfect and don’t be afraid of your day-to-day movement. The only activities you want to avoid are swimming for a few days, intense or high-impact exercise, starting an exercise you have never tried before, over-heating the body with something like hot yoga or saunas, and any activity where you might injure yourself (martial arts, skiing, skateboarding etc.).
I hope some of these tips will help you prepare for the smoothest, most comfortable embryo transfer day possible.