When you choose to become pregnant using donor eggs, you are likely to have concerns about achieving a successful pregnancy. Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about how to ensure a healthy donor egg pregnancy and how to help ensure a successful implantation of embryo created from fresh or frozen donor eggs. The chances of IVF success with donor eggs are already high and made higher when the intended mother or surrogate carrying the baby is well prepared to receive the embryo and carry it to term. No matter the method of conception, all women who hope to become pregnant, or who are pregnant, should follow the same guidelines for preparing for pregnancy and maintaining wellness.
Exercise is an important factor in boosting your preconception health. If you aren’t currently very active, starting a fitness routine before you begin your pregnancy by egg donation journey may be helpful. Regular exercise helps manage your blood pressure, blood sugar, and body weight – three health factors that can worsen with pregnancy. Women with medical conditions, who are over 40 at the time of pregnancy, and those who are overweight should consult their primary physician before starting an exercise regimen.
Exercise during pregnancy is another matter: It’s important to maintain a flexible and strong body while also managing weight gain. However, it is also important to avoid some types of physical activity. Pregnancy can make ligaments more elastic, increasing the risk of injuries. It is important to avoid exercises when trying to get pregnant that put strain on your ligaments, like exercises involving jumping or complex stretches. It is also best to avoid activities that could harm the baby either through abdominal trauma, such as soccer or basketball, or by falling, such as skiing and horseback riding.
Is there such a thing as too much exercise when pregnant?
While being overweight can make conception and pregnancy more difficult, it is also true that women sometimes stop menstruating due to strenuous, ongoing physical training. This problem is called amenorrhea and is often discussed in studies about fertility and pregnancy health. Since amenorrhea affects ovulation and can cause infertility, it should not impact your donor egg pregnancy.
If you have concerns about your weight, talk to your doctor about an approved exercise program. In many cases, low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking or swimming, can be a fantastic addition to your wellness program.
Find a Routine You Can Continue after Conception
Once you get pregnant, you can generally continue with any exercises you were doing before conception. But you will typically be advised not to try new routines since the increased elasticity of your ligaments will make injury from unfamiliar movements more likely. So, pick preconception activities that you can gradually modify as your body changes during pregnancy. Walking, yoga, light weightlifting, and swimming are some examples. Focus on movements that build core body strength. You will need well-developed back, stomach, thigh, and gluteal muscles to help keep the aches and pains of pregnancy to a minimum. It is best to avoid activities that could harm the baby either through abdominal trauma, such as soccer or basketball, or by falling such as skiing and horseback riding.
What we know about how to ensure successful embryo implantation and a healthy pregnancy includes proper preconception nutrition. A healthy diet provides a number of benefits such as helping you achieve your ideal body weight and promoting a healthy immune system. The Nurses’ Health Study by Harvard researchers followed 18,000 nurses for eight years to track their fertility. The results showed that eating habits had a significant impact on how easily the study subjects became pregnant.
These eating habits included healthy fats, whole grains, and vegetable proteins that added high levels of folic acid, vitamin B-12, and vitamin D to the nurses’ diets. Quality of foodstuffs also mattered: The study also showed the benefits of eating low pesticide produce and soy products.
Proper preconception nutrition when planning a pregnancy, including donor egg pregnancy, provides a number of benefits such as helping you achieve your ideal body weight and promoting a healthy immune system. Now, Harvard researchers have published a study on the dietary habits of women trying to conceive that provides even more information about what to eat. Over 18,000 women in this Nurses’ Health Study were followed for 8 years to track the ease with which they became pregnant. The results point to eating habits as a factor that affects fertility problems related to ovulation. Here are dietary choices that may reduce your chances of experiencing ovulatory problems:
Eat a diet that is high in complex carbohydrates. These foods contain lots of fiber and are digested by your body more slowly than simple carbohydrates like white bread and sugary drinks. A diet high in whole grains (such as brown rice), fruits, and vegetables reduces the risk of insulin resistance – a hormonal problem that can interfere with a healthy pregnancy, especially as estrogen and cortisol fluctuate during the later trimester.
A moderate amount of fat contributes to a well-balanced diet. As long as you are in a healthy weight range, restricting fat to below 20% of your total daily calorie intake shouldn’t be necessary. Interestingly, women in the Harvard study who consumed 1-2 servings of whole fat dairy products per day had less trouble conceiving than those who ate low-fat dairy. However, trans fats (often found in fast foods, snack foods, sweetened breakfast cereals, etc.) appear to have a negative impact on both mother and fetus health and should be avoided.
High protein diets that restrict the consumption of even “good” carbs and promote eating large quantities of animal protein are linked to infertility problems. A diet that contains plenty of plant-based protein (such as beans and nuts) and lots of complex carbohydrates is associated with fewer infertility problems. Try to get your dietary iron from dark, leafy vegetables instead of red meat. Add an iron supplement if needed.
Preconception supplementation is designed to help prepare your body for pregnancy. Supplements aren’t a substitute for a well-balanced diet, but they do help ensure that you get the vitamins and nutrients you need to maintain reproductive health.
What Supplements Should You Take?
Taking prenatal vitamins to get pregnant is something that many women do, even when preparing for pregnancy with donor eggs. While these supplements are not an infertility treatment and cannot replace medication in and of itself, they will supply you with sufficient levels of folic acid and the following vitamins/minerals for optimal health:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
You may also benefit from ensuring adequate intake of the following supplements:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Consistency is critical for maintaining good health before and after the embryo transfer. If you get in the habit of taking supplements now, you will be less likely to skip doses once you become pregnant.
It’s important to understand that prenatal vitamins are not a cure for infertility. It is unlikely that taking over the counter fertility supplement blends or herbal remedies will speed conception.
Stress and donor egg pregnancy
Stress is often defined as an event that a person sees/feels is threatening. In order to protect itself, the body responds with a “fight or flight” response. It is not clear how exactly stress impacts fertility. It is not known whether high levels of stress can impact pregnancy, but we do know that reducing stress provides a better quality of life during times of intense personal challenge.
Sometimes, infertility patients respond to the stress of being unable to conceive without the assistance of donor eggs by aggressively pursuing other treatment and procedures. Other patients withdraw and isolate themselves from family, friends, and community. Neither of these extremes is ideal for patients who seek to build a family.
Having less stress in your life while pursuing fertility treatment, such as a donor egg pregnancy, may not, in and of itself, result in a pregnancy. However, developing better coping strategies to manage stress related to an infertility diagnosis and treatment can help you feel more in control and improve your overall well-being.
Stress does interfere with making rational and well-thought-out decisions. Reducing stress can allow patients to research, explore, and consider all the options available with a clearer mindset. By reducing stress, the pros and cons of one treatment course over another can be more effectively weighed and considered.
Learning how to reduce stress is good for your health. While no one expects patients to approach fertility treatment stress-free, finding ways to minimize stress while pursuing treatment can help. It is helpful for patients to look for ways to reduce the burden of infertility treatments and medical protocols.
How to reduce stress when preparing for pregnancy
There are many stress-reducing techniques; some of the more popular methods recommended to fertility patients are:
- Aerobic exercise (may be reduced during treatment)
- Collaboration with experts in stress reduction
- Guided imagery / Mind-Body Exercises / Qi Gong
- Listening to music
- Massage therapy
- Mind-body groups
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy
- Self-help books
- Spending time with loved ones
- Support/educational groups
- Visualization & Visualization CD’s
- Walking/hiking and Being in Nature
- Yoga, Stretching and Tai Chi
Does Acupuncture For Fertility Work?
Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapy developed more than 2,000 years ago. Acupuncture treatment stimulates specific energy meridians that exist throughout the body. Scientists have observed that stimulating these channels with acupuncture can cause a physiological response in brain activity, hormone levels, blood pressure, heart rate and immune system function, all of which help the body return to its innate state of balance and harmony. Recent studies show that acupuncture not only increases your chances of getting pregnant naturally and with IVF, but helps to create a healthier baby. We have our own resident acupuncturist on site at Santa Monica Fertility to provide acupuncture and other Traditional Chinese Medicine remedies, helping you to feel relaxed and happy while increasing your chances of conception.
Planning Your Donor Egg Pregnancy
When it comes to the IVF process with donor eggs, a holistic approach is necessary. Healthy lifestyle habits not only support your chances of becoming pregnant, but they can help ensure a safe, successful pregnancy. If you would like more information on using donor eggs, our shared donor egg program, and the cost of donor eggs, or are ready to begin your journey to parenthood, we are here for you. Please contact us or call to speak to our egg donation coordinator at (310) 566-1470.
You can also view our database of exceptional and fully screened egg donors online at Santa Monica Donor Egg Bank.