TLDR: Trying to conceive can take a toll on your physical and mental health. One way to cope is meditating, which can benefit your fertility journey by lowering your stress and encouraging you to be mindful, patient, and kind to yourself.
I never thought I would have trouble getting pregnant.
I remember the first time I took a pregnancy test. It was right after one month of trying. I can still feel the disappointment I had when I saw the negative result. I can hear my hopeful thoughts: “It takes time, Anna. I’m sure next month the test will be positive.”
But the next month’s test wasn’t positive, either. Nor were those that came in the several months that followed. I don’t know how many pregnancy tests I took, but I do know something in me started to break with each negative result. Each month I watched as the conversation in my head turned from hopeful and enthusiastic to fearful and heartbroken.
One morning, when I was getting ready to visit my family two states away, my husband placed his hand on my shoulder and said he needed to tell me something before leaving. It turns out my brother had told him that my sister-in-law was pregnant. He knew how emotional I was about not being pregnant, so he thought it was best to tell me before they announced it that day in front of everyone.
His words hit me like a ton of bricks. I broke into hysterical tears and threw my head into his chest. At the core of it, I was jealous—jealous she was pregnant and I wasn’t. It felt like everyone else had no problem getting pregnant, but I couldn’t. On top of that, I felt horrible that I couldn’t seem to be happy for my brother and his wife.
Out of my devastation came a realization.
That day, something in that jealousy woke me up. It was at that moment I realized how stressed I was about trying to conceive. Having a baby had become a destructive addiction that was emotionally tearing me apart.
A few days later, I decided to stop trying to conceive. Yes, I still wanted to be successful at getting pregnant, but I stopped focusing on “trying.”
I threw away the ovulation sticks.
I stopped buying pregnancy tests.
I stopped tracking my cycle.
I stopped treating myself like I was broken.
Instead, I focused on taking long walks. I paid attention to my breath and being present. It was as if I started a fertility meditation practice without even noticing it.
And two months later, I was pregnant.
How Meditation Can Help Increase Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
Throughout my life, I’ve observed that every time I step back, see how my thoughts are affecting my body, and make a conscious effort to practice letting go through meditation, I open up space within me for whatever it is I want.
I’ve noticed this same thing when speaking with other women trying to conceive. Like me, whenever these women began a fertility meditation practice, they stopped blaming themselves and instead decreased their stress and increased their self-compassion.
In other words, they got better at focusing on the positive rather than the negative. And in doing so, they successfully created a healthy space in which a baby could grow.
The process of successfully getting pregnant involves several moving parts, and there are numerous tools, strategies, and treatments out there to support your body while trying to conceive, including:
Unfortunately, there isn’t much talk about how you can support your mind. We all know there is a mind-body connection in all of us. We can’t ignore one and expect the other to work efficiently.
The Benefits of Fertility Meditation
Dr. Shaun Williams1 , an endocrinologist and partner at Illume Fertility, says that meditation and mindfulness “have been shown to decrease psychological distress and anxiety, which can lead to health problems, including reproductive health issues.” He adds “Those who practice these calming, grounding techniques report a significant reduction in stress, as well as increased self-awareness, self-compassion, and resiliency.”
Here’s what my research revealed about meditation for fertility:
Hormonal imbalance can affect important chemical signaling in the body and cause problems with ovulation, according to Perfect Hormone Balance for Fertility: The Ultimate Guide to Getting Pregnant2 . This doesn’t help your chances of getting pregnant.
What can help is meditation, which can influence hormone centers3 that can help balance hormones to promote conception. Starting a regular fertility meditation practice can help recalibrate your hormones, allowing them to function properly.
When I was trying to conceive, I obsessively tracked my ovulation and menstrual cycle. I thought I was doing everything I was supposed to be doing while trying to conceive.
But, in the end, obsessing over getting pregnant was doing just the opposite. Every month I was hit with another negative pregnancy test, leaving me stressed, anxious, and upset until it was time to try again.
Studies show stress is linked to reduced fertility in both men and women4 . Looking back, I can see how much my stress affected my ability to get pregnant, and I didn’t conceive until I started managing it.
When my husband and I started trying to conceive, we joked about how “fun” it was to make a baby. Unfortunately, that initial excitement was quickly replaced with worry and concern about whether or not we were even able to have children.
These feelings of inadequacy made us feel disconnected from ourselves—and each other when we needed support more than ever. Research shows mindfulness practices, such as fertility meditation, can enhance compassion and kindness5 . And they may have saved my husband and me from a lot of arguments and misunderstandings.
I was really hard on myself during my fertility journey. I blamed my body for not working correctly, and my mind for not being smart enough to figure out the solutions to my infertility.
When I started practicing fertility meditation, I noticed I was more gentle with myself and others. Studies back this up with data showing meditation being associated with self-compassion6 and stress management. Knowing how much meditation has allowed me to have a more positive and compassionate inner dialogue, I can’t help but wonder how much that would have helped during the inevitable ups and downs of trying to conceive.