If you’ve landed on this blog post, you’re wondering what to do after an embryo transfer to increase success. After all you’ve been through, I know that you’re probably willing to do just about anything to make that little baby stick! You’ve been through hell to get here, what with all the medications, the invasive procedures, and constant visits to your clinic to monitor your progress. You are one tough cookie and I hope you know how strong you are! Sisters, we shall forever be.
Your embryo transfer is in sight! Congrats.
If you’re in the preliminary IVF research phase, we recommend starting with Questions to Ask Your Fertility Doctor at Your Consultation. If you’re in the early days of hormone injections in your IVF cycle, be sure to check out What to Expect on IVF Egg Retrieval Day, What to Expect After IVF Embryo Transfer, 9 Tips for Easier PIO Shots in IVF and IVF Egg Retrieval Recovery Essentials, as your retrieval will come before your embryo transfer, whether you are doing fresh or frozen!
What Happens After Your Embryo Transfer?
Well, to put it bluntly… you wait.
At this point in your TTC journey, you have obviously heard of the dreaded two-week wait (or, TWW). Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, likes the TWW. Time moves oh-so-slowly, and I would be lying to you if I told you that it got any easier after an embryo transfer.
BUT, the good news is that often, your fertility clinic will have you return for a blood test (to check your hCG levels) about 10-days post-transfer, rather than 14. This is because your blastocyst was either three or five days old before it was transferred into your uterus, which puts you right at that two-week mark.
You can, of course, take a home pregnancy test prior to your hCG test, but I would recommend waiting until you’re at least 7 days post-transfer, as those lines can be deceiving!
What to Do After an Embryo Transfer to Increase Success
So, what can you do to increase your odds of a successful embryo transfer? While there is no guaranteeing the success of any cycle, there are things you can do to help your cause.
Some may call the following tips superstitious, others may pick and choose. Me? We tried long enough that I didn’t care how outlandish or silly something sounded (looking at you, Mickey D’s) – I wanted this baby and was willing to try it all!
Please keep in mind that this is an informational blog providing tips based on personal experience and some research. This information should not be considered medical advice, and will not guarantee a successful transfer.
Here is what I did post-embryo transfer:
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
While it’s important that you stay hydrated during your IVF cycle in general, it particularly crucial that you keep at it post-transfer in order to encourage implantation and pregnancy. Drinking at least two liters of water a day will help keep that uterus nice and squishy to welcome that little bean home.
(Pre- and) Post-Transfer Acupuncture
I opted for both pre- and post- embryo transfer acupuncture as recommended by my fertility specialist, and several peers. For the purpose of this article, we will only go over post-embryo transfer acupuncture.
My clinic, fortunately, offers in-house treatments that can be synchronized with procedures, so it was an easy decision for me. Particularly when I was told that data from their studies found that pregnancy rates increased by 17% for women who received acupuncture, as compared to those who opted against it.
Acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus, reduces stress (and boy do we carry a lot of it), and regulates hormones. The post-transfer treatment relaxes the nervous system and targets points that will help circulate blood to the uterus, helping to boost your odds of successful implantation and to nourish a recently implanted embryo, since treatments continue to be effective 24-48 hours after a procedure.
Remain Cautiously Active
This may contradict what some doctors advise but think about it: so much of TTC has to do with your mental state. If you are super stressed, it affects your body and can decrease your chances of conceiving. Why should this time be any different? For many, exercise is a go-to way to relieve stress!
While you should heed your doctor’s advice and limit physical activity to an extent, this does not mean that you need to be completely bed- or couch-ridden. Being active is NOT going to make your embryo fall out – trust me on that one.
Avoid high-impact, vigorous exercises; anything that forces you to bend awkwardly or move forcefully can push the embryo from the uterine cavity to the Fallopian tube, which you don’t want. Your ovaries are also still enlarged and probably still tender from your egg retrieval, so you want to give them the recovery time they need.
But it is ok to get your blood flowing in moderation! Go ahead and do something low impact, such as walking or light stretches (don’t turn yourself into a pretzel), or very light upper body weights.
Keep Your Feet Warm
Ever notice that when your feet are cold, the rest of your body feels cold a well? It’s not in your head; there is a science to it! If you’re wondering how to keep your uterus warm after IVF, here’s your answer.
Chinese medicine asserts that if your feet are cold, your womb will be cold as well – so keep those socks on and those toes nice and toasty so that your uterus is getting the blood flow it needs!
Avoid Excessive Heat
This means no hot baths, hot tubs, saunas, whirlpools, or showers that are so long and hot that your skin turns red. Submerging yourself in water can lead to infection which is the last thing you want going on down there, amiright? You’ll have to avoid excessive heat throughout pregnancy anyway, so might as well start now.
If you live in a warmer climate, try to avoid outdoor exercise as well.
By now you’ve probably seen pineapples all over Instagram and on various articles of clothing worn by hopeful mamas at the fertility clinic. But why?
Pineapple contains bromelain, which may aid implantation by increasing blood flow to the uterus. The highest concentration of bromelain can be found in the core, which, when consumed, is believed to have a positive effect on the uterine lining post-embryo transfer.
Possibly a little old wives’ tale, as there is little data actually proving the positive effects, but hey, no harm, no foul
Drink Pomegranate Juice
Another possible old wives’ tale: pomegranate juice. Pom juice is said to prime the uterine lining for implantation, so many people take to drinking a glass a day in the days leading up to their embryo transfer, and the days following. Again, no proven evidence, but I say why not?
Mental stress can put unnecessary stress on your uterus, and mess with your hormones. Therefore, it’s important to stay as positive as possible while you wait for your hCG test.
I know, this is way easier said than done, and I am by no means trying to pretend as though I can relate to every woman’s infertility experience! However, I do know that stress can only hinder… not help.
Your body has already gone through a lot to get to this point. From the meetings, tests, and waiting, to the hormone injections and invasive egg retrieval – this did not come easy. Look at it this way… what you have done so far has worked. Now all you have to do is wait for that little embaby to stick! And you can help them by staying positive!
McDonald’s French Fries
Some women swear by indulging in some salty McDonald’s french fries on their way home from their embryo transfer. We know that salty foods help prevent OHSS.
If you are superstitious, why not? Doesn’t hurt to try it all! I know I did! If not for superstition, you just had a rough few weeks and deserve a cheat snack anyway.
Continue Your Prescribed Medications
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that the injections don’t stop with your transfer! For the next eight to ten weeks, you will go from stabbing yourself in the abdomen with a needle to stabbing yourself in the tush! And likely also taking Estradiol orally, and hopefully not taking Endometrin inserts (THE WORST, I TELL YA!).
These medications are important to keep up with because they support implantation and help keep that baby sticking to your uterine lining.
It may be daunting to think that you still have a ways to go. Just keep in mind that once you test positive, the hardest part is over! Your future work is to keep that baby sticking.
Baby dust to you!