Preparing for Frozen Embryo Transfer

Preparing for FET – what you need to know

While the techniques have greatly improved over the years with a process called vitrification, which helps make it easier to freeze eggs, there remains a number of factors for women to consider around preserving their eggs.

The success of a healthy pregnancy achieved through the Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) process has increased substantially in recent years, which has helped make the procedure an increasingly popular option for patients to consider before making the decision to proceed with another fresh IVF cycle.

The Zita West Clinic now has a Clinical Pregnancy Rate per embryo transferred with frozen cycles using the patient’s own eggs of 34% (the HFEA UK national average is 29%).

The embryo transfer is the final step in a long journey toward building your family and every path is unique, although each will all involve planning, injections, appointments, and usually some ups and downs. Preparing for this day and knowing what to expect can decrease your worries and maximize your chances of success.

Preparing for your Embryo Transfer

  1. The best way to prepare for your embryo transfer is to follow all directions from your clinic and learn more about what to expect on the day of the transfer. Whether you are doing a fresh embryo transfer or a frozen embryo transfer, you’ll likely be on progesterone and other supportive medications, so make sure you have enough of them and that you follow directions from your clinic on how to take them.
  2. Plan ahead for getting to the clinic on time – think of traffic, weather, and other issues that may cause a delay. If you have a long drive to the clinic, consider staying in a hotel near the clinic the night before the transfer to decrease your risk of being late.
  3. Ask about logistics for the day of the procedure – what time you should arrive, who you can bring to the appointment (usually it’s one adult in the room at a time), and how long you should expect to be at the clinic. Try to ask questions beforehand – the day of the transfer is exciting and emotional, and you may forget to ask what you wanted to if you wait until the day of the transfer to ask.
  4. Research suggests that acupuncture may help in various areas relating to assisted conception, including during the lead-up to a cycle and immediately before and after embryo transfer (though, as with most research related to complementary treatments, this can’t be considered proven). We believe that it contributes to our very high levels of IVF success.
  5. Prepare for a relaxing evening after the transfer – have your favourite meal ready (or plan for delivery), get a new book to enjoy, have a few films picked out that you’ve wanted to see, and in general, just plan for pampering.

After your embryo transfer

A lot of the time, women feel anxious about getting up and moving around in case the embryo ‘falls out’. The natural instinct is to want to rest a while after the procedure, and this is completely fine! The most important thing to do is to listen to your body and do what it dictates.

There are a few dos and don’ts that we would recommend when it comes to your post-transfer routine:

DON’T…

  • Exercise excessively – gentle movement or walking is fine
  • Lift heavy objects
  • Drink caffeine
  • Have sex
  • Have hot baths – excessive heat may damage the embryo, so stick to showers until the pregnancy test.
  • Listen to anyone who has a bad IVF story! Try asking them if it has a positive ending before they start their tale, as there’s no point indulging in negative energy.

DO…

  • Get support from your partner, family and friends.
  • Get your feel-good hormones circulating! Play uplifting music, laugh and do what makes you feel good.
  • Think carefully about work. Many women say that work is a huge distraction for them, and so immersing yourself in it may be great to keep your mind active whilst you wait. But it all depends on your job, the travel and how supported you feel as an individual.

If you are considering IVF with the Zita West Clinic  and would like to have an initial Skype consultation with one of our experienced team members at our clinic in London, then call us on 0808 196 4060

Anti inflammatory foods for fertility

Inflammation and fertility

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury or illness. However, prolonged inflammation can lead to insulin resistance and studies suggest it is linked to many conditions that may affect fertility, such as endometriosis, PCOS, implantation failure and recurrent miscarriage.

One of the greatest obstacles to successful implantation of the embryos and the reason why IVF fails in some women is an inflammatory environment, which can be caused by autoimmune and other pro-inflammatory conditions of the immune system. If there is inflammation in the body, it could damage embryos and prevent successful implantation. At the Zita West Clinic we do specialist blood tests to see if this is the case or not. If inflammation is detected, we don’t simply rely on medication to reduce this; the internal environment can also be optimised through appropriate nutrition and improvement in lifestyle. It is also extremely important to reduce the effect of stress, which can impact the immune system, and we use other, holistic treatments – such as acupuncture and hypnotherapy – to help with that.

Reducing inflammation through diet

There are certain foods that are inflammatory and others that help reduce inflammation in the body. Let’s start with the good stuff. Try to increase the following in your diet, because these foods are anti-inflammatory:

  • Oily fish – levels of omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish help to counteract the inflammatory effects of omega-6 fats that are found in most meat.
  • Certain nuts, like macadamia nuts, which are high in omega-9 fats and seeds like flaxseed, chia and hemp.
  • Fruit and vegetables – high antioxidant foods help stem the action of free radicals, which cause inflammation. Orange and dark green vegetables are especially important for their beta-carotene levels.
  • Olive oil, which in its raw state contains omega-9 healthy fats and a chemical called oleocanthal, both of which have anti-inflammatory actions on the body. However, once you heat olive oil it becomes pro-inflammatory, so opt for seed oils for cooking instead.
  • Spices such as turmeric, garlic and ginger help to prevent pro-inflammatory enzymes from acting on your body.
  • Green tea
  • Pineapple
  • Rosemary
  • Propolis (honey bee resin) is a source of caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), which has been found to inhibit NF-kB, which promotes inflammation.
  • Apples, onions, berries, brassicas and capers are a good source of quercetin, an important anti-inflammatory antioxidant.
  • Fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and yoghurt, should be included regularly in your diet. The gut is an important site for the development and maintenance of immune health and modulating inflammation. Therefore maintaining a healthy digestion is important for addressing long-term inflammation.
  • Vitamin D-rich foods, such as oily fish, shellfish, egg yolk and mushrooms.
  • Coconut oil contains a beneficial fatty acid called lauric acid, which is also found in human breast milk. Lauric acid converts in the body to a compound called monolaurin, which may help support the immune system. Other fatty acids include capric and caprylic acids, which have antimicrobial properties.
  • Vitamin A-rich foods, such as organic liver and eggs.

In addition, try to eat more white fish, beans and pulses as your main protein sources, rather than poultry and red meat. Although turkey and chicken are fine in moderation, in general animal protein is considered more inflammatory for the body than fish and plant protein. You may wish to limit your intake of red meat and dairy products, as they contain arachidonic acid, which the body can use to make inflammatory eicosanoids.

Unsurprisingly, the pro-inflammatory foods in our diet comprise refined carbohydrates and sugars, excess saturated fats, processed foods, junk foods and hydrogenised (or partially hydrogenised) fats. Avoid them as often as you can. Caffeine and alcohol are pro-inflammatory, too.

Finally, avoid stress. Although this isn’t a dietary cause of inflammation, stress is almost certainly contributing to inflammation in your body. Support all the good work you’re doing with your diet by adapting your lifestyle to reduce stress, too.

For a detailed nutrition consultation tailored for you either in the clinic or by phone, contact us here.

Tips for early pregnancy

With the lovely news from Harry and Meghan, we thought we’d share with you some tips for getting through the first few months. Early pregnancy, especially the first time around, is a very exciting time but it is also easy for anxiety to creep in and many women can feel overwhelmed. The first few weeks of pregnancy can be exhausting on so many levels; emotionally, physically and mentally. No matter who you are you, Duchess or not, your emotions at this time will be the same and this is something I see on a daily basis. If you have never been pregnant before it’s a steep learning curve, and as a midwife there are many common questions I am asked in early pregnancy:

How do I know I’m still pregnant?
This can be a really emotional time, not just because of the hormones but all of the worries about whether it will be ok with the pregnancy, especially if you are older. Before you start showing in these early days it can be so hard to actually ‘feel’ pregnant. One day you experience nausea, the next day you don’t, and new hormones are kicking in that you have never experienced before making you emotionally fragile. The exhaustion you’ll feel in your first 12 weeks, especially having to work and adapt to the pregnancy without telling anybody can really take its toll. Even if Meghan doesn’t suffer as much as her sister-in-law, nausea affects 70% of women which can sap energy further.

I’m not eating as well as I should…
Eating a good diet can be hard in the beginning as you are getting used to what your body needs with when and what to eat. Sometimes it is not always the healthiest of choices with many women craving carbs where they have tried to avoid these foods before. Plus with nausea kicking in it can mean eating what you are able to to get through the first few weeks which is fine. This is why it’s so important to build up a good store of nutrients before you get pregnant.

I feel worried all of the time, can stress affect my baby?
While Meghan is no different biologically to any other pregnant woman, she does have the added pressure of getting through engagements and having the world watching her. Constant stress on a daily basis may affect your baby, so learning to manage stress in early pregnancy is key.

Tips for getting through first trimester

  • Look at what’s going on in your life and what you can cut back on. If you work long hours, try to cut down here, and limit yourself to lots of commitments that can exhaust you.
  • Make sure you have early nights where possible to build your reserves and get you through the next day.
  • Accept that this this will only be for a couple of months and you’ll soon be feeling much better, give in to it where you can.
  • Don’t have any alcohol or coffee in the first trimester.
  • Eat little and often to keep your blood sugar balanced. In early pregnancy you need to tune in to what your body requires. Nausea and tiredness can be a vicious cycle: you feel sick so you don’t want to eat, but if you don’t eat then your blood sugar drops and nausea sets in. When it gets to this point it is hard to quell, so have snacks at hand throughout the day and I also encourage women to have something to eat just before bed to balance the blood sugar through the night. It’s a long time from dinner until breakfast which is why many women wake in the morning with nausea.
  • You need carbohydrates for energy and the developing baby, but for so many women I see they have been used to cutting carbs out and are nervous about how they crave them in pregnancy.
  • Deal with your stress early on. Chronic stress can be detrimental so make sure you manage this. The best way is to practice visualisation or meditation for 20 per day, but if your issues are greater then make sure you seek help through counselling.
  • Take a multivitamin and mineral continuing folate, as well as omega 3. Many women worry in early pregnancy that they are not eating as well as they should, so top your nutrients up with supplements.
  • Nurture yourself. In my experience this is the one time that women really feel they can pamper and nurture themselves. Rest whenever you feel you need to, get as much sleep as you can, and look after yourself from within.
  • Don’t listen to any labour horror stories – concentrate on the positive and if anyone starts to tell you their story, ask if it’s positive, and if not, then continue that conversation post birth!

There’s More To IVF Than Eggs, Sperm & Embryos

This week on The Fertility Show, our brilliant Medical Director Dr George Ndukwe explains how there is a lot more to IVF than we might think – healthy sperm, eggs and embryos are just the beginning…

Watch the video below:

Here’s a brief summary of what Dr George Ndukwe says:

“Right from the outset a couple must have the best sperm and egg possible, so preparation for IVF is vital. We often forget that it is important that the whole woman is looked at and treated, after all she is trying to get pregnant. So it is really important to support her before, during and after IVF. If an IVF cycle fails we try and see the woman for a review as soon as possible and a couple can always call the clinic to talk to us about any fears they have. To sum up care, empathy and support are as necessary for a successful IVF cycle as healthy sperm, eggs and embryos.”

For weekly tips, advice and wisdom on natural fertility and IVF, subscribe to our Fertility Show on YouTube.

Book now

Consultations are available at our clinic in London or via video conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0808 196 4060 or email us at clinics@zitawest.com

 

How to have a baby on your own: what are your treatment options?

 

When it comes to having a baby on your own, most single women fortunately do not have fertility issues, instead they face an issue of how to get the sperm and egg together. 

The treatment options available to single women are usually based on and dictated by age and fertility status.

There are four different treatment options, which I’m talking about in today’s episode of The Fertility Show.

And as usual, you’ll find your cheatsheet below.

Treatment options cheatsheet

1:  Artificial Insemination: donor sperm is inserted into you in a clinical setting

2: Stimulated cycles: you are given injections to stimulate you and then have Artificial Insemination.

3: IVF (Assisted Fertility): your eggs and the donor sperm are fertilised in the lab.

4: Egg Freezing: if you are not quite ready to under go these treatments and are thinking more of planning ahead, then we would be looking at egg or embryo freezing.

Here at the Zita West clinic, we are able to help you plan you treatment, so that you get the best possible outcome.

I understand how difficult it can be to make these decisions and how hard it can be to find out what you need to do and the best treatments for you. But if you book a consultation we can help you every step of the way.

Book now

Consultations are available at our clinic in London or via video conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

 

 

5 Tips For Coping With The Two Week Wait

The two-week wait is the worst time for any woman who’s just gone through the IVF process.

The last few months have been complete with blood tests, scans, daily visits to the clinic, and much, much, more. And then, suddenly, you’ve had your transfer and you’re on your own. Waiting and hoping for a positive pregnancy test.

What do you do?

It’s really difficult, and something that every woman going through IVF will experience. Here are my five key tips for coping with the two week wait.

As always, here’s your cheat sheet.

 

Rest: It’s common sense to me that when you’ve been through so much to go home and just put your feet up. Lie on the bed, and do whatever you can to rest. Obviously, if you have to go back to work, that’s something you have to do. But remember, the whole process of IVF and the anticipation of what’s going to happen is a lot to manage, so it makes sense to put your feet up and relax.

Gentle Exercise: The second tip is gentle exercise, like walking. No bootcamps, no aerobics, nothing too strenuous. Take it very easy!

Say no to coffee and alcohol: You should be doing this anyway, but cut out coffee and alcohol. Instead, drink plenty of water, at least 2 litres a day.

Deal with anxiety: It’s easy to question and doubt if you may or may not be pregnant, especially in the first couple of weeks. Try setting aside 20 minutes a day for relaxation, which can help calm your nerves. We supply you with downloads that are really helpful to listen to during the two-week wait.

Stop doubting yourself: So many women I see are convinced it’s not working and then give up all of the above! Even if you think it’s not working, don’t stop any of the above! Carry on exactly as you’re supposed to under the guidance of your clinic and only make decisions based on what they say to you.

Generally, many of you will have gone back to work during the two week wait and you need to plan ahead. I really recommend you try and plan your diary ahead of time to make sure it’s not going to be a stressful week, with loads of travel and meetings. If you can, try and take it easier than you normally would.

For weekly tips, advice and wisdom on natural fertility and IVF, subscribe to our Fertility Show on YouTube.

Book now

Consultations are available at our Clinic in London or via Video Conferencing from the comfort of your own home.

Connect with us

Call us on 0808 196 4060 or email us at clinics@zitawest.com