Coping When Trying to Get Pregnant Overwhelms You

Young couple lying on back, woman holding rose flower, thinking about how to cope with infertility
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Trying to get pregnant can easily feel as though it's taking over your life—especially when it takes longer than you expected. Infertility comes with emotional experiences for couples, who can have sadness or even obsession with fertility concerns. It's also not uncommon for those trying to conceive (TTC) to become depressed.

We can't always change our circumstances. What we can control, however, is how we cope with the challenges we face. With something as heart-wrenching as trying to become pregnant, it's not always easy. It might help you to find healthy ways to express your grief and frustration.

Here are 12 things to keep in mind as you try to cope with the challenges of getting pregnant.

1. Don't Let the Two-Week Wait Take Over

The two-week wait is a time of high stress when you're trying to conceive. Each day between ovulation and your pending next period can feel like a year. During this time, you may feel constantly anxious. It can help to focus on other things and people. Here are a few things that can take your mind off the wait.

  • Have a date with your partner
  • See a movie you always wanted to see, pick up a book you've been meaning to read, or get the ingredients for a recipe you've wanted to try
  • Spend time with your friends (if not in person, have a group chat or video call)
  • Start a home or craft project

Two-week wait worries might still linger in the back of your mind as you participate in these activities and outings, but it's better than letting them sit in the front seat.

2. Don't Overdo Pregnancy Tests

When you're trying to conceive, one of your main focuses is likely to be pregnancy test-taking. Whether it's gathering up your supplies (a stash of cheap pregnancy tests in the bathroom cabinet) or experimenting with the timing for taking a test.

While you might be hesitant to cut back on taking tests while you're trying to get pregnant, it can easily become a fixation—and something that will make you feel more stressed rather than less.

Try to resist the urge to take a pregnancy test until your period is at least one day late. If you have a hard time resisting the temptation, consider whittling down your supply of tests or giving them to a friend for safekeeping.

3. Don't Let Your Period Get You Down

Many people who menstruate aren't necessarily thrilled when their monthly period comes. when you're trying to conceive, you might even be more upset by its arrival—which is a sign you didn't get pregnant yet again.

If you've experienced miscarriages, getting your period can not only signal another failed cycle but also remind you of previous losses. For some people who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth, periods can be intense reminders of their inability not only to get pregnant but to stay pregnant.

Try not to let your period pull you down for days or weeks. If you're depressed the first week of your cycle, ambivalent about (or obsessed with) ovulating, and anxious during the last two weeks, consider the role that your period might be playing as a trigger for these feelings.

4. Reclaim What You Used to Love

The stress of infertility can get our minds so wrapped up in getting pregnant that we forget what we used to do for fun. Make a list of all the things you enjoy (or used to enjoy) doing. If you're stumped, think back to what made you happy as a child.

If you're having trouble remembering, call up a friend or have your partner help you out. Ask them directly what they remember doing together with you that made you smile.

Post your list where you'll see it every day. When you're feeling down, check your list and take action by choosing something from it to work into your day.

There are also other ways you can declare your independence from infertility. Start by making sure that you talk to your partner, family, and friends about things other than fertility. It can also help to focus on making long-term plans that aren't related to baby-making, as well as taking the time to celebrate personal and professional successes.

5. Connect With Your Partner

Infertility is notorious for turning sex into a chore. From frustration to shame to a lowered libido, trying to get pregnant can change your sex life.

What used to be a passionate time to connect intimately with your partner might start to feel like a task—one with a seemingly unattainable goal. When the sexual relationship breaks down, it can also weaken other aspects of your relationship.

It's important to give attention to the relationship you have with your partner. Take time to talk to each other about how infertility is affecting you both and discuss what you both feel like you need to stay connected.

Go back to that list of things that bring you joy. You'll likely find at least a few that you could do with your partner. You can also make a new list together of things that you'd like to try.

6. Prioritize Self-Care

Taking care of yourself does not just mean eating right and seeing your doctor for check-ups. It also means making time for relaxation and finding healthy ways to manage stress.

Stress management is different for everyone. For example, you might like a long bubble bath after a long day while your partner prefers to turn up some music and dance around in the living room.

Relaxation might be meditation, yoga, or an art class. These activities keep you "in the moment" which can help you change your inner dialogue about your infertility.

There are several mind-body therapies for infertility that can help you relax, and some have been shown to improve pregnancy rates.

When you are in the moment, it's harder for your thoughts to fester on former fertility failures—or future fertility fears.

7. Acknowledge Difficult Feelings

Trying to reduce the hold that infertility has on your life does not mean that you have to pretend that it doesn't have a strong influence on you. In fact, acknowledging all of your feelings about infertility—especially the difficult ones—is healthy. Find a safe place and time to express these feelings (which will look different for each person).

If you find it challenging to talk about how you are feeling, you might find that writing is helpful. You can keep your words private or share them with your partner, friends, family, or even the wider world if you choose.

If you want to connect with others, you might want to consider starting your own fertility blog and becoming part of the online fertility community.

8. Join a Support Group

Couples with infertility often feel isolated. Sometimes it seems like all their friends and family are getting pregnant and raising families while they are still trying to get pregnant and feeling like the only childless couple left (or the only couple who can't have more kids).

This is where a support group can be helpful. You'll be with other couples who really "get it" and understand the unique frustrations and grief of infertility. Sometimes, it's just enough to be with others who have been through what you are going through.

Ask your fertility clinic if there are support groups nearby or check online to find out if there is a RESOLVE infertility support group where you live.

9. Get Professional Help

Support groups can be a good place to connect with others, but you might feel like you need to do a little more one-on-one work. People who are navigating infertility often experience depression, anxiety, and panic attacks. Even if you feel you are coping adequately, finding a fertility therapist has many benefits.

Infertility often comes with intense, sometimes difficult, emotions. Counseling can help you process these feelings and develop healthy ways of coping. It might be helpful to look for a therapist who has special training or experience working with infertile couples, as they can also help you make informed choices about your treatment.

Therapy can also be useful for couples, especially if infertility is putting a strain on your relationship or you and your partner struggle to agree on what to do next. It's not uncommon for one partner to be reluctant about therapy, but couples seeking counseling together often benefit greatly from having the opportunity to talk openly about what they are going through.

10. Let Friends Support You

Sometimes, we get so caught up trying to protect ourselves from our family-oriented friends that we lose sight of the fact that they are still the same people who were our childless best buddies not too long ago.

Friends and family often want to support you, but might not know what to say or do. They are afraid of saying the wrong thing (or not saying the right thing). Don't wait for them to read your mind! Friends and family can't support you if you haven't given them a chance. You need to start by communicating with them.

There are benefits and pitfalls to sharing your infertility. You certainly don't need to tell everyone and you don't need to talk about it any more than you find helpful. That said, you also don't need to stay silent or try to go it alone. Choose a few friends or family members who you feel can be part of your support system.

You and your partner might want to discuss and prepare your answer to that dreaded question: "When do you plan on having kids?"

11. Take a Break

If you feel that trying to get pregnant has taken over your life and all your efforts to take things back are not working, it might be time to take a break. You and your partner might find it helpful to take a few months off to rest and refocus.

Before you stop trying to conceive, talk to your doctor about the length of your break. Certain circumstances might determine how long you take a break (for example, time can be a factor if you hope to get pregnant over the age of 35).

12. Practice Reframing

There's a simple stress management technique that can help you cope with your current fertility challenges as well as be an invaluable tool throughout your life. It's called the art of reframing.

Reframing doesn't change your situation—rather, you change (reframe) the way you look at it.

Here's an example: a person has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and is talking to their doctor about chemotherapy. They are told that they will likely lose their hair—not just on their head, but all over their body. At first, the person thinks, "I love my hair and it will be unbearable to watch it fall out."

Then, they take a moment to think about how they could reframe the situation. Instead, they change their focus: "If I also lose the hair on my legs, I'll save time and energy because I won't have to shave for the next few months."

It's not easy to reframe. You might have to practice a lot before it feels natural to you (the proverbial "fake it till you make it"). As you encounter challenges in your journey to get pregnant, continue to look for opportunities to reframe.

A Word From Verywell

The process of trying to get pregnant can take a tremendous emotional toll on you and your partner. At times, it might feel as though your efforts to conceive are taking over your life. When you are feeling overwhelmed by the stress, it's important that you and your partner recognize and respond to it. This might mean reaching out for help from friends and family, taking a break from trying, or learning how to reframe your thinking.

As you are caring for yourself (and each other) make sure that you aren't blaming yourselves for the challenges you are facing on your fertility journey. If you feel that you need more help coping, talk to your doctor, a therapist, and consider joining a support group.

1 Source
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  1. Psaros C, Kagan L, Shifren JL, et al. Mind-body group treatment for women coping with infertility: A pilot study. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2015;36(2):75-83. doi:10.3109/0167482X.2014.989983

By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.