Having a child after experiencing fertility can feel like all your dreams have finally come true. But as well as being a joyous time, becoming a parent also brings its own unique challenges.
As you adjust to your new life with your much-wanted child, you may find that the realities of post-infertility parenthood may not always match up to your expectations.
To help you navigate those early days, we explore what to expect from motherhood after infertility.
It will take time to get over your infertility experience
Undergoing IVF or ICSI treatment in a bid to become a parent can be both physically as well as emotionally demanding, and the whole experience of infertility can leave lasting scars. While welcoming a long-awaited baby can help to eradicate these feelings of loss and even trauma, not all your infertility emotions will immediately disappear.
Becoming a parent can be joyous as well as overwhelming and you may find that some of your residual memories and emotions resurface, often when you least expect them. This is perfectly normal, so it is important that you allow yourself time to get over your infertility experience as you settle into motherhood.
And the help from others who have been through the same journey can be invaluable, so speak to your GP if you’d like to connect with a local parenting after infertility support group.
No-one is the perfect parent
Having waited so long for motherhood, you may feel you have to get everything right but as any parent will tell you, there is no such thing as a perfect parent! In fact, setting unrealistic expectations of motherhood can only serve to increase the stress and pressure that comes with being a parent.
Worrying you may not be good enough is a common fear that is often exacerbated by the infertility experience and possibly years of ‘failure’ as you tried to conceive. If this sounds like you, then now’s the time to cut yourself some slack and accept that you are not going to get everything right, all the time.
But what does matter is that both you and your baby are happy and healthy. And remember, you are not alone – there’s plenty of advice available on the practicalities of parenting as you find your feet as well as support groups where you can positively share your parenting fears.
Wanting more children is perfectly normal
After experiencing infertility and going through IVF treatment, you may have already decided that one baby will be enough and that you will be more than satisfied as you have finally become a parent. So, what surprises many IVF parents is that they find themselves desiring another baby despite what this may entail.
This is normal. There is no rule that says you should be happy with just one child if you have been through fertility treatment, and you should not feel guilty or even selfish about wanting more.
It’s ok to ask for support
After all the highs and lows of your pregnancy journey and the sheer elation of finally welcoming your own child into the world, many IVF mums are surprised to find those early days hard.
However you conceive your child, all mothers can be affected by low mood and depression as they learn to adjust to their new role as a mum. Hormones, previous trauma, sheer exhaustion, and stress can all contribute to postnatal depression so as a new parent, it is important to be aware of the signs.
If you find yourself feeling low or depressed, then please don’t ignore it but reach out for help; talking to your GP or fertility consultant can ensure you get all the support you and your new family needs.