The experience of trying to conceive and the infertility journey can be emotional. Some emotions are positive as you look forward to adding to your family, yet feelings of stress and anxiety may surface as you wonder when it might happen for you, whether you are trying the right treatments, or worry about finances. Sadness or grief may arise if you have struggled with unsuccessful attempts.


These thoughts can be hard on your body, with increased cortisol levels, depleted vitamin and mineral stores, increased muscle tension.  Mindfulness meditation techniques address these issues.


How Mindfulness Meditation Works


Mindfulness is defined as paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judging. This practice first asks you to quietly focus your mind on your inhale and exhale.  If you try this, you will notice that the mind wanders.  The mind does not want to stay put.  That is normal.  Mindfulness meditation practice simply involves this noticing:  You focus on the breath, you notice the mind wander, and you bring the mind back to the breath.  This noticing is the whole practice.  The moment you notice your mind has wandered, that’s mindfulness.  Noticing what your mind is up to and beginning to retrain it to rest in this moment, not the past or future, is the point.  ​This science-based healing approach has been widely studied and the benefits are well-documented.


Over time, practicing mindfulness meditation slows down the stress response.  We become calmer, able to see life through a mellower lens.  Anxiety is reduced, as is emotional reactivity.  We retrain the habitual pathways of the brain. Positive effects are seen in patients with depression and chronic pain, too.


​Mindfulness also works to reduce our judgments.   Our habit is to react to things as good or bad, often not noticing that most of our experience is neutral.  In practicing mindfulness, we note that things are as they are in this moment, noting that whatever it is, is already here.  We pause.  Instead of reacting, we respond. This simple difference, between reacting and responding, changes your experience of life (and the experience of those around you) significantly.  The pause offers the opportunity to choose what comes next… a space for wisdom to arise.  Moving forward with clarity becomes possible.


Benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction During Fertility Treatments

  • Reduced stress and anxiety, which can be harmful physically and emotionally.
  • Increased self-compassion. Treating yourself with the same care and kindness you would treat a friend becomes possible.
  • Reduced self-induced pressure. Choosing peace and calm allows for more grace in your fertility journey.  


Mindfulness-based stress reduction, once developed as a tool, will help you to live moment to moment without the burden of being judged.  This is called a practice because it takes practice to develop this skill.  We are humans with habits.  Emotional habits and thinking habits.  Mindfulness practice moves us out of habit and into present moment awareness of our own life experience.




Incorporating a mindfulness-based stress reduction program into your daily routine may help with stress management, reducing anxiety, mitigating a pain response, increasing self-compassion, and overall wellness during your integrative fertility journey.  A list of resources for mindfulness meditations are included here on our site.​


If you are interested in a consultation to see if integrative techniques can further support your fertility journey, contact me.

The holidays are typically a time for gatherings with family members, spending time with those you love, and celebrating family traditions. For couples struggling with infertility, the holidays and spending time with family may not hold the same joy and excitement as years past. During the holidays, couples struggling with infertility may get asked questions they don’t have answers to or don’t want to discuss with others.  This can bring about feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy or a sense of loss. 


Oftentimes, family members have the best of intentions, not realizing how a couple experiencing infertility may be struggling in that moment.  It is common for couples to feel pressure from family members about their infertility journey, conceiving, and upholding family traditions. Couples who are experiencing infertility may get asked questions like “when are you going to have children” or “how are fertility treatments going?” Family members may try to place blame on one partner for not having a child, or struggling to have one. The couple may feel attacked, ashamed they are not “performing” or meeting their families expectations.  Feelings of guilt, loneliness, and sadness may increase and compound difficult emotions that are already present during a fertility journey. 


There are a few ways a couple can prepare when attending the holidays with family. The important thing is to build a support system amongst each other so they know how to reply to the family, and when it’s a good time to leave the holiday gathering or not attend at all.  


  1. Couples can gauge whether it’s mentally and emotionally healthy for them to attend these holiday gatherings.  It’s important they remember that it is not worth their mental and emotional wellness attending holiday gatherings that may cause anxiety, feelings of guilt and shame or place more pressure on them.
  2. Next, the couple can create clear boundaries to assist them with how much information they will share about their infertility journey with their family members.  They can determine certain details that they will choose not to share.  The couple can discuss what their responses will be depending on who asks questions.
  3. The couple can communicate clearly by letting family members know their infertility journey is not up for discussion. The couple can let the family know what is up for discussion and what is not. 
  4. Couples can let family members know to keep their story private.
  5. The couple can create a sign or gesture they will make to one another when it’s time for them to leave or when someone needs to go assist the other.  


Couples struggling with infertility may experience change in their family dynamics, especially during the holidays. Their feelings can take over making it difficult to communicate what they need or want from others.  


Couples may feel that family members are intrusive, or invading their space and privacy with inappropriate questions.  The couple can simply say no to the gatherings that they do not want to be a part of or to those being intrusive and invading their space.


Self-care is important for couples experiencing infertility.  They need to be able to recharge and rest when needed. A couple should create a plan around self-care they can establish, if needed, after attending a gathering that leaves them emotionally and mentally drained. For example, a night home alone watching movies, a hike, a walk to breathe some fresh air, visiting family or friends that are supportive or simply creating new family traditions that bring them peace and joy.


Struggling with infertility is challenging and the holidays may make things feel more intense. Finding effective communication, boundaries, and a self-care plan can help couples to maintain their emotional wellbeing through the holiday season.