How to love your body through infertility

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Infertility is the inability to conceive or sustain a pregnancy after 1 year (for women less than 35 years of age) or after 6 months (for women over 35 years old).

If you are struggling with infertility you may feel anger, guilt, shame, depressed, or broken. It is common for women going through infertility to struggle with anxiety or depression. But one of the things that I rarely see addressed is how women feel about their body while going through infertility. You may be feeling like your body is broken, like it let you down and is not doing its job to reproduce. If you are a woman, odds are you may have a history of a body dissatisfaction. Infertility may be bringing up some new feelings about your body or triggering ones from your past.

You may hate your body.

You may want to punish your body by saying mean things to/about it. You may want to punish your body by dieting, restricting or bingeing food. You might even want to hurt your body. You may have a hard time connecting with your body, struggling to remain intimate with your partner, or even feeling numb in certain areas.

If you are going through infertility, you are not broken.

Here are some ways to love your body through infertility;

  1. Challenge your negative thoughts about your body - When you are having negative thoughts about your body it is easy to see your body as broken or bad. It is easy to want to punish your body or even to hate your body. By challenging these negative thoughts we can examine where they have come from, what proof we have to support them, and how to reframe them.

  2. Praise your body - Even if you do not believe what you are saying, even if you cringe while you are saying it, say it. Start by focusing on the part of your body that you do love or that you feel is strong. Focus on the functions of your body and what it truly does for you. If you have other children this is a great activity to do together. This is also something you can do while doing a physical activity. Examples of this are, “I love my feet because they allow me to run many miles” and “I love my hands because they are steady and stable allowing me to create a painting or piece of pottery.”

  3. Positive affirmations - When thinking of negative statements (i.e. “my body is broken”) try to mentally or verbally replace that statement with a positive statement about your body. For example, “I love my body” or “My body is strong” or “My body is amazing” or “My body can do so many things.” Start each day by looking in the mirror and saying one positive thing about your body.

  4. Give your body the proper nourishment - Fill your body with foods that give you energy and make you feel good. Feed it until it is full. Nourish it when it shows signs of hunger.

  5. Let your body rest - Trying to get pregnant is tough work. You are challenging your body physically, mentally, and emotionally everyday while trying to get pregnant. Being aware of when your body needs to rest; self-care is necessary. For most people, that is 7-9 hours of sleep and may be even more when undergoing procedures or fertility interventions.

  6. Move your body - Physical and mental exercise is helpful.

  7. Practice mind/body exercises - Mind/body exercises are those that combine breathe work with mental focus and body movement. This could be yoga or tai chi, as well as grounding exercises or progressive relaxation.

  8. Know when to get help - Many women suffer from an eating disorder, disordered eating, and/or body image concerns in their lifetime. If going through infertility is triggering any disordered eating behaviors such as restricting, bingeing, purging, only eating certain foods, feeling detached from your body, or punishing your body in any other way it is time to seek professional help.

For more information on loving your body through infertility contact Julie at julie@kullcounselingmadison.com or 608-239-4807.

Setting an intention for 2019

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Only a few more days and 2018 will be at a close. For many people this is a welcome change. The start of a new year signals beginnings, and provides an opportunity for change and growth. What do we want from this new year? How will it be different than last year? What do we wish was different in our life? What needs to change this year for us? While I am not big on New Year’s resolutions, I do like setting intentions and working to achieve goals.

According to Mind Body Green, “Intentions are the fuel to manifesting your goals and visions.” There are many different ways to set an intention, but this year I challenge you to set a one-word intention. Think of one word that will help guide you in the next year to get you closer to your goals or visions. When we create a long list of goals or resolutions, it can be difficult to stick with. Focusing on one word can provide focus on your intention and more obtainable goals.

My intention this year is GROWTH.

Ways to use Intentions:

  • Create a mantra around it that you can repeat to yourself or just say the word.

  • Post the word somewhere you can see it - on your bathroom mirror, your daily planner or set your phone screen with a picture of your intention.

  • Journal about how your intention is being incorporated into your life.

  • Meditate on this word.

  • Share your word, ask friends close to you to set an intention and discuss how this word is showing up in your life.

  • Create a collage with your intention in the middle and see what develops.


What will your intention be this year?

To learn more about setting intentions and growth check out www.kullcounselingmadison.com

The silent suffering of secondary infertility

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“Is that your daughter? She's adorable. So you just have the one child?”

I overhear a mom speaking to another mom and cringe. Even before the other mom tells me that she's been trying to get pregnant for years, even before she tells me about her failed attempt at IVF.

According to the Mayo Clinic, Secondary Infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a child to term after already having a child. Secondary infertility, much like infertility can lead to feelings of: isolation, dissatisfaction with your body, anxiety, feelings of sadness, problems with your relationships and grief.

Secondary infertility also presents a new set of challenges:

  1. Feeling like a bad mother-There are different reasons why you may feel like a bad mother. You might be feeling this way because you cannot get pregnant again. You might feel this way because infertility may be causing anxiety or depression and may effect your parenting. You may feel like a bad mother because you want to give your child a sibling.

  2. Disconnection from your child- You may feel disconnected from your child. It may be hard for you to make sense of parenting a child that is here and grieving the one that you do not have. Infertility can be all consuming. You may have trouble staying present with your child.

  3. Feeling split between wanting more kids and wondering why you had them in the first place-It is hard to have a child. Really hard. You may be having opposite feelings of wanting another child and at the same time feeling not cut out for parenting all together. It is really hard to think about having a child when your current child is taking all of your energy and mental space.

  4. Feeling shame because you already have a child- You may be feeling shame about wanting another child. It is common to hear comments like “well at least you already have one” or “some people can’t have any”, “appreciate what you have”. You may also have trouble connecting with others that are struggling with infertility because you have a child and they may not.

If you are struggling with these symptoms you are not alone.

Ways to cope with secondary infertility:

  1. Find support- Find someone that you can talk to about your feelings. Whether this is a professional, a support group, a family member or a friend, it is important to talk about your feelings and get validation that those feelings are real for you.

  2. Make me time- In a culture that prides itself on being “so busy” take some time for yourself to do self care. Self care is not selfish, it is not a luxury, it is necessary. Taking time away from being a mother, partner and trying is important. Finding something for just you is important. This could be exercise, massage, getting your nails done, taking a class, sometimes even just grocery shopping by yourself can feel therapeutic. Make this a habit and set boundaries so that it happens on a regular basis.

  3. Make special time to connect with your child- Find some time to spend time with your child in the moment. Whether this is reading a book at night or playing a game time find to be present with your child and connect.

  4. Take some time with your partner-Spend time together outside of trying for another child. Go on a date. Have dinner without your child around. Make time to talk to each other.

  5. Take a break- You may feel that it is necessary for your mental or physical health to take a break from trying.

  6. Sit with the discomfort- know that these feelings will dissipate. Let them wash over you. Name them, acknowledge them, and let them pass. It is common for women going through infertility to feel a lack of control. This can be one of the hardest things for women to process, especially when they are planners and are used to being able to achieve goals. It is hard to sit with feelings of discomfort. Using grounding and mindfulness exercises can help with sitting with these feelings.

If you are struggling with secondary infertility I Can Help.

If you would like to learn more about coping with secondary infertility contact Julie at 608.239.4807 or julie@kullcounselingmadison.com for a free 15 minute phone consultation.