Tips for balancing your career and fertility treatment
Wednesday, March 23, 2022
When you long to become a mom and aren’t getting pregnant successfully, your doctor may recommend trying IVF treatment. While protocols like these can be physically and emotionally draining on their own, combining them with pressures at work can make the experience feel impossible.
So, the question is: can you balance your career and fertility treatment?
Depending on where you work, finding the balance between work and fertility treatment can be a bit tricky. There are very few jobs that are stress-free. When not managed properly stress can affect sleep patterns, food habits and increase dependency on caffeine. These can, in turn, reduce fertility. High-stress levels also cause hormonal changes. Overworked women tend to have lower than normal estrogen levels and higher androgen levels. This can disrupt the ovulation cycle and cause a delay in pregnancy.
Once the treatment starts, you will need to attend multiple appointments, often at late notice. You’re also probably going to need to take hormonal medication that might cause side effects and mood swings. Fertility can also involve procedures that leave you feeling unable to work.
Balancing work and pregnancy may not be easy but it can be done. Below are a few useful tips:
1. Come Up with a Plan First
Before you begin any infertility treatment you can expect to have a detailed consultation with your doctor. While any timeline provided by your doctor won’t be concrete, it will give you an idea of what’s to come. You can then use this information when discussing your upcoming treatment with your boss. That means finding out exactly what your individual treatment plan involves, from how many early-morning clinic visits you’ll have to how much time you’ll need off work after egg retrieval and embryo transfer. Another factor to weigh in on is how you deal with physical and emotional stress. For instance, some women find it helpful to take some time off to grieve in case they don’t become pregnant.
Since there’s no way of knowing how your body will respond to fertility drugs before starting your first IVF cycle, consider taking seven to 10 days off for egg retrieval if you have this chance. Some women choose to take vacation time between egg retrieval and transfer because they would prefer to keep the process private or because their work schedule is inflexible. Trying to organize your schedule and routine throughout treatment is much easier when you thoroughly understand what you’re dealing with.
2- Review your HR policies
See how much time you are allowed to take off, and if that time rolls-over to the next calendar year. If so, it may be worth it to forgo a vacation this year to gain more days off next year when you plan to undergo treatment. You can also discuss other options with them – like more flexible working hours, banking work time now for the future or work-from-home options that can keep your hours coming in even if you need time off during business hours.
3- Be Honest and Direct with Your manager
Before you even broach the topic of time off with your boss, it can be helpful to sit down and come up with some concrete ideas about how you might make up for lost time if early-morning appointments run over and you’re late for work.
During the meeting with your boss, explain what’s going on in your personal life, and let them know what kind of time commitment you’re expecting. Go in with ideas on how to manage your schedule and meet all your work requirements. Ask About Work from Home Options. Once your cycle begins, your schedule can become increasingly unpredictable.
Discussing any opportunities to work from home with your boss, will not only provide increased flexibility in your schedule, but it will show a desire to meet all your work commitments and to get your job done as well as possible.
4. Put your physical comfort first
In addition to sapping your energy, fertility treatments put your body through major changes.
To deal with the physical discomfort, invest in some flattering but forgiving workwear, such as flowing tunics, wrap dresses and comfy flats. Small, frequent meals and snacks can help relieve nausea, so bring comfort food for lunch and stash away crackers and nuts, in your purse or desk drawer. Sipping tart, fizzy fluids can also be soothing, so try filling your insulated mug with carbonated water and a slice of lemon.
5. Minimize Extra Workplace Commitments
Are there optional committees and boards you’ve been thinking about joining through your workplace? Unfortunately, the middle of an infertility treatment cycle isn’t the time to start.
Most infertility treatments involve a significant mental, physical, and time commitment. Why wear yourself even thinner than you already are by adding one more obligation
Make regular time for activities that dial down your stress levels, whether it’s journaling, cooking, baking, going for walks or doing light exercise, such as yoga. Deep breathing and mindfulness classes or apps can offer similar benefits, so find out what works best for you