Staying pregnant after IVF

When IVF treatment has been successful, it's natural to have worries. To put your mind at ease, here's the risk of miscarriage in IVF pregnancies - and how you can look after yourself during the early stages of your pregnancy

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Once you’re pregnant after IVF, unless there are specific medical complications already identified, your pregnancy should continue as any other.

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Though after the immense pressure of IVF treatment, it’s totally understandable if you’re feeling nervous about the risk of miscarriage, or ‘staying pregnant’ after a successful conception. 

Keep in mind that your fears are pretty universal, regardless of how you conceived – and try not to worry too much, as early miscarriage is almost always beyond our control.

In the first 3 months of your pregnancy (especially), try to put your emphasis instead on taking it easy, being good to yourself, practicing self-care and trying not to stress.

Yep, probably easier said than done, we know ? Still, it’s worth a shot, right?

Here’s what you need to know about the IVF miscarriage risk, and how you can look after yourself in the early stages of your IVF pregnancy…

Does IVF have a higher risk of miscarriage?

The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) who regulate fertility clinics and the fertility treatment process in the UK, do acknowledge there is slightly higher incidence of miscarriage in pregnancies from assisted conception.

However, this doesn’t mean there’s a higher ‘risk’. In fact, they believe this is mostly down to the fact that a woman who is confirmed pregnant from this method is more likely to be aware of the pregnancy much earlier than a woman who has not been treated.

Miscarriage is most common in early pregnancy and therefore it is possible that other women are experiencing early miscarriage but do not realise.

The main risks may come from the condition which stopped you from conceiving naturally in the first place. For example, if you have blocked or damaged fallopian tubes, this can cause an ectopic pregnancy.

If you’re concerned about anything, speak to your midwife or GP. Also, an ultrasound scan can put your mind at rest.

I’m being monitored after IVF – does that increase the risk of miscarriage?

If you have a history of miscarriage or stillbirth, then you may be seen more regularly by a specialist during your pregnancy. This is the same for any pregnancy with the same history. 

If you are expecting twins or more, you will probably be monitored more closely than in a regular pregnancy.

If you went through assisted conception treatment because you were trying for a baby and are over 35, you may be more closely monitored for your own health (blood pressure, gestational diabetes etc) and for the health of the foetus.

There is nothing to unduly worry about, but regular monitoring is a sensible move, just to be on the safe side. 

If your general health has been compromised by your treatment in any way (very rare) or you have an ongoing condition which originally led you to take the assisted conception route, you may be required to see a doctor or specialist a little more regularly than a woman going through a regular pregnancy.

Again, you can rest assured that this is usually a precaution for most women, and is nothing to panic over. 

Should you wait before having sex after IVF?

So, some practitioners believe that sex is not advisable in the early weeks after getting pregnant by IVF.

A general rule thumb for one US fertility clinic is that you should wait 2 – 3 weeks after your embryo transfer before being intimate with your partner.

(We’ve reached out to a couple of UK experts on the subject, and we’ll let you know when we hear back.)

This is because they reckon there’s a small risk that the female orgasm, which causes contractions in your uterus, could affect the embryo implanting.

If you’re concerned, consult the clinic that treated you, or speak to your midwife. If you want to be especially cautious, you can wait until you’ve seen your positive pregnancy test.

Some choose to wait until the first antenatal scan – seeing your baby’s heartbeat and going through this first proper medical check is the best way of putting your mind at rest.

However, we should add that intimacy during your pregnancy is important for you and your partner, even without sex ?

How can you look after yourself in the early weeks of IVF pregnancy?

The best thing to do during the early stages of your pregnancy is simply to take care of yourself as best you can, by:

  • Choosing a healthy lifestyle. It’s important in any pregnancy to get yourself into good condition in terms of diet and nutrition. This includes cutting out or reducing your intake of cigarettes, alcohol and caffeine.
  • Pay attention to your body. Take it easy and pay attention to your body. If you feel tired, have a rest or take a nap. Early pregnancy can be SO exhausting. 
  • Travelling? Check you’re OK to beforehand. If you’re working and have to travel, check with your midwife that she’s happy for you to do so.
  • Don’t be afraid to contact your GP. If you see signs of bleeding in early pregnancy, don’t panic. Some small bleeding episodes are common. Still, don’t worry about checking in with your midwife or GP just for a little reassurance.
  • Reach out to those in the same boat. If you’re finding it tough to enjoy your pregnancy, or are really struggling generally, make use of the counselling services available via your fertility clinic, or join the MadeForMums forum to seek support from those who know just how you feel ✊

Images: Getty Images

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