I’m excited to speak with Amira Posner. She is Healing Infertility's lead counselor. Amira is a professional therapist with Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Social Work from the University of Manitoba.
In addition to working with individuals, couples and families providing therapy in a secure and safe setting, she is a member of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) and Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (OCSWSSW).
She also has formal training in Reiki and the relaxation response.
What exactly is a Mind-Body Fertility Program?
The program focuses on mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques and emotional coping strategies to optimize the physiological and mental well-being of participants. Emphasis is placed on learning mindfulness-based techniques in a supportive group environment.
How will the program help me cope with the emotions I have surrounding infertility?
This quote by Victor Frankl can be very helpful as we navigate the journey to have a baby!
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.
During the Mind-Body Fertility Program we learn what we can control and what we can’t control.
We practice a concept called, Letting Go Coping.
Fertility and Sterility published a study that found that, Letting Go Coping, is associated with successful IVF treatment outcomes.
The study found that in the context of a low control situation such as IVF treatment, women who try to be actively in control might pay a higher price in terms of pregnancy probabilities.
When we focus on the issues that we can’t control, this can lead to worry and we may start to ruminate and even catastrophize! (we imagine that our worst fears will come true)
We may predict a failed cycle, or even worry that we’ll never be parents.
With Letting Go Coping, it’s all about letting yourself be, so you can refocus your energy and enter a mind clearing meditative state.
What are some examples of topics in the Mind-Body Fertility Program?
Mindfulness – this is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting ones feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
Mindfulness is like a muscle, to get the hang of it, you need to practice!
Try This At Home
Jon Kabot Zinn offers some wonderful exercises for mindfulness; his “Eating One Raisin ” technique is a good one to try at home!
Cognitive Restructuring – is a technique drawn from cognitive therapy that can help people identify, challenge and alter stress-inducing thought patterns and beliefs. The end goal of cognitive restructuring is to enable people to replace stress-inducing thought habits with more accurate and less rigid (and therefore less stress-inducing) thinking habits1.
Try This At Home
Identify a negative thought. e.g. A mom pushing a baby in a stroller! This can be a very painful trigger, for many women and couples who are trying to conceive and are struggling with infertility.
Where in your body do you feel that thought (head, throat, chest, stomach?)
Write down the thought and start to ask the question is that thought true?
You can then start to shift that thought, by adding in an affirmation such as “I welcome positivity into my life”
Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it!
Relaxation Response - a physical state of deep rest that changes a person's physical and emotional responses to stress.
Try This At Home
Once or twice a day for 10 to 20 minutes, sit in a relaxed position, eyes closed, and repeat a word or sound as you breathe.
Some people use such words as "love" or "peace."
Others say traditional prayers.
If your thoughts stray -- which is normal and expected -- just refocus on the word repetition.2
Hypnosis – during hypnosis a person’s body relaxes while their thoughts become more focused and attentive. In this state of deep concentration, some people are highly responsive to a hypnotherapist’s suggestions.3
Try This At Home
Practice some deep breathing.
With every exhale say a word that represents how you want to feel, such as peaceful, calm or joyful.
Recall a comforting place from your past. Vividly re-experience it! What does the air smell like? Can you feel the earth on your feet? What about the different colours? Are you inside or outside? What emotions are you feeling? (joyful, excited, energized, peaceful).
You can even add more comforting elements to this scene too. Practice a few times per week.
Fertility Yoga - Studies show that yoga can help reduce stress, which can affect fertility. Some experts also believe that specific poses can help promote baby-making by increasing blood flow to your pelvis, stimulating hormone-producing glands, and releasing muscle tension. 4
Try This At Home
Try staying for a few minutes in Child's Pose.
How does Mind-Body Fertility Program help with the fight-or-flight response?
When the sympathetic nervous system is triggered (also know as the fight-or-flight response), our brain genuinely believes we are under attack! Which increases our heart rate, increases glucose, slows down our digestion and spikes our cortisol levels (leading to a hormone imbalance which negatively impacts your fertility).
When we are going through infertility we may spend a lot of our time in this fight-or-flight response.
When we engage the parasympathetic nervous system. We slow down our heart rate, slow our breathing, reduce blood pressure and increase digestion. It is also called the rest and digest phase!
Infertility can be scary and full of uncertainty. The more we accept it; our whole system will begin to soften.
When we start to practice some of the Mind-Body Fertility techniques, we can train our body to slowly move away from the fight-or-flight response and move towards the rest and digest phase.
Visualization, guided imagery and the Letting Go technique are a few tools that can reverse the stress effect and activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
How will the Mind-Body Fertility Program help with my stress?
It’s important to get support and talk to others about your stress. The key to dealing with stress is to bring awareness to how you respond to it!
When we view stress as harmful, we increase our chances of being negatively impacted by the stress in our life. When we make stress our friend, the negative impact decreases!
The Ted Talk by Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend, has been viewed over 11 million times!
Studies have proven that, changing how you think about stress, improves your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and baby!
Lisa Rankin also re-enforces what we already know about support groups and why they are so powerful. She shares; that as a species we are tribal people, being alone too much can trigger the stress response. That’s why being part of a supportive community is good for your health and your fertility. Make sure you join the Fab Fertile Support Group!
Try This At Home
Exercises such as journaling
Mind-Body Fertility offers some great tools to help you on your journey to have a baby! It can be very empowering to know that you can make a difference and improve your chances of conception, by using these techniques. Start small! Add in some deep breathing, join the Fab Fertile Support Group and try some fertility yoga.
Thanks to Amira Posner for sharing her Mind-Body Fertility tools and words of wisdom! Feel free to visit her webisite Healing Infertility for more information too!
We're excited to introduce our online Mindfulness Fertility Series. This Series is limited to only 10 participants!
Jump on the wait list to reserve your spot!
You'll receive more details as we get closer to the launch!
Learn more here!
Sarah Clark empowers couples to discover how lifestyle and diet can dramatically impact their chances of conceiving. She was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure at 28 and had both her kids with donor eggs. Not until years later did she discover that the root cause of her infertility was a food intolerance. Join the Free Fab Fertile Support Group on Facebook for mini-challenges, motivation and inspiration!
Alice Domar - https://www.domarcenter.com/about/staff/alice_domar
Helen Adrienne - http://mind-body-unity.com/
Tara Brach - https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditations/