It was back in 1978 that the first baby was born after a successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. Since then, every year on July 25, the day when Louise Brown was born, is observed as World IVF Day. Over the years, IVF has helped couples struggling to get pregnant. But people may wonder if it is possible to conceive naturally after having an IVF baby. There might be a good news here. Just last month, scientists at the University College London came up with a research. Data from 11 studies – conducted between 1980 and 2021 – of over 5000 women across the globe, were analysed by them. The researchers at UCL found that about one in five women got naturally pregnant after having had a baby using treatments like IVF. It happened mostly within three years. Here is what an expert has to say about conceiving a baby naturally after IVF.
Health Shots connected with Dr Shreya Gupta, Infertility and IVF Consultant, Birla Fertility & IVF, Lucknow to know about the possibility of natural pregnancy after IVF.
What is IVF?
Women who have difficulty in getting pregnant might find IVF the go-to solution to treat infertility. In vitro fertilization is actually a type of assisted reproductive technology that involves the fertilization of an egg with sperm outside the body, explains Dr Gupta. All this happens in a laboratory dish. During the IVF process, the woman’s ovaries are stimulated with fertility medications to produce many eggs. A minor surgical procedure is done to retrieve these eggs and then combined with sperm in a laboratory dish. The fertilized eggs or embryos are monitored and allowed to grow for a few days before being transferred back into the woman’s uterus. If it is successful, the embryo implants in the uterus and pregnancy can happen.
Conceiving another child after an IVF baby
Just like the UCL research, Dr Gupta says that it is possible for women to conceive naturally after having a baby through IVF or even after experiencing failed IVF cycles. This phenomenon is known as “spontaneous conception” or “natural pregnancy”. There are reasons why this can happen:
• IVF treatment can sometimes improve fertility factors like ovarian function or sperm quality which might increase the chances of natural conception in subsequent cycles.
• Emotional and physical stress associated with infertility and IVF treatment can sometimes subside after a successful pregnancy, leading to a more relaxed state that can enhance fertility.
The chances of conceiving naturally after successful or failed IVF can vary widely between women and depend on factors like age, overall health and underlying fertility issues. Each case is unique, and there is no guarantee of natural conception after IVF. There are chances of getting naturally pregnant after IVF, but those women might have a higher risk of certain complications compared to others who conceive naturally. However, not all women who conceive after IVF will experience high-risk pregnancies.
Tips to take care if women are naturally pregnant after IVF
If a woman has a natural pregnancy after IVF, it is important for her to take certain steps to ensure a healthy pregnancy.
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1. Prenatal care
Reach out to your doctor for a regular prenatal care. They will monitor the progress of the pregnancy, perform necessary tests and screenings, and provide guidance on nutrition, exercise, and overall well-being, says the expert.
2. Healthy lifestyle
Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, staying physically active (with guidance from your doctor), getting enough rest and avoiding harmful substances such as tobacco and alcohol.
3. Nutritional needs
Pay attention to your nutritional needs and ensure you are consuming a well-rounded diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. Consider taking prenatal vitamins if your doctor recommends them.
4. Emotional support
Pregnancy is often an emotional journey, and it can be particularly unique for women who have undergone IVF. So, there is no harm in getting emotional support from your loved ones. You can also join support groups or consider counseling if you think it is needed.
5. Monitor for complications
Be aware of any signs or symptoms that might indicate complications such as vaginal bleeding, severe abdominal pain or decreased fetal movement. You should immediately report any concerns to your doctor.
6. Prepare for childbirth
Attend childbirth education classes to learn about the labour and delivery process, pain management techniques and breastfeeding. Consider discussing your previous IVF experience with your doctor to address any specific concerns.
So, don’t feel dejected if you have infertility issues. There is always IVF that might help, and there’s a likelihood that you might even have a healthy child after an IVF baby.