Psychological tips for coping and coping with beta-waiting

By (clinical psychologist), (gynecologist), (psychologist), (embryologist) and (embryologist).
Last Update: 09/18/2023

The beta wait is the period of time, about 15 days, that must elapse between the embryo transfer or artificial insemination and the performance of the pregnancy test that will finally confirm if there is pregnancy or not.

Couples undergoing fertility treatment suffer great stress during this time, with symptoms of anxiety and alternating periods between hope and pessimism, the desire for the time to take the pregnancy test and, at the same time, the fear of knowing the result.

All these symptoms make it very difficult to follow the daily routine while waiting for the result. In addition, differences in coping with beta-waiting are found between couples and between partners. It is also possible to suffer more stress during the second week, when the time of the blood test is approaching.

Be careful when searching for information on the Internet

A common practice when faced with the uncertainty of beta-pregnancy is to search the Internet for all the signs and symptoms that you feel (or should feel) in early pregnancy. However, this strategy is erroneous since everything that is published on the network is not correct.

When searching on the Internet, make sure that the information comes from reliable and quality sources. Even so, pregnancy symptoms can be so variable among women in the same situation that it is not possible to generalize.

For this reason, if you have any doubts during assisted reproduction treatment or during beta-pregnancy, it is recommended that you consult the medical team that is carrying out the treatment. They are the ones who know the clinical history best and who will be able to provide the most accurate solution or answer.

Do not try to look for symptoms of pregnancy

The symptoms that a woman may feel in beta-expectancy may be due to the hormonal medication of fertility treatment, the achievement of pregnancy, or even the imminent arrival of menstruation(premenstrual symptoms).

Therefore, feeling nausea or certain abdominal pain during beta-pregnancy does not indicate anything or give clues as to what the result of the pregnancy test will be, since it will be difficult to interpret what this symptomatology is really due to. Likewise, not feeling anything does not mean that the beta result will be negative.

The woman is influenced by experiences she has had in previous pregnancies or by others who tell her story. This produces what is known as perceptual biases, selective attention to bodily sensations and interpretive distortions. The following is an explanation of what they consist of.

Selective attention to bodily sensations

The woman selects a priori a possible interpretation, whether she is pregnant or not, and tries to look for signs that confirm her hypothesis through observation of her body.

These signs may have already been present at an earlier time, but the woman had not paid attention to them and was therefore unaware that she already had them.

This is what happens, for example, with digestive movements, swelling or breast sensitivity due to hormonal medication, etc.

Similarly, the woman always tries to find symptoms attributable to pregnancy, such as nausea, to the point of somatization. Nausea can also be a consequence of the anxiety itself.

Discard other possible alternatives

By focusing all the attention on the comments that only have to do with the hypothesis chosen by the woman, other possible alternatives are dismissed.

Thoughts are automatic and uncontrollable, but you have to know how to act when they come to mind.

For example, if a woman feels a prick in her abdomen and thinks she is going to get her period, she should avoid making checks such as constantly going to the bathroom.

On the other hand, during beta-waiting it is recommended not to make "reassurances", i.e. ask other people what they think about a particular sign or look it up on the Internet.

Do not always talk about the beta

It is a mistake to always focus communication on the fertility treatment and its results, both with the couple and with friends or family, as it can be detrimental. However, communication is essential and it is imperative to understand how the other feels. In addition, at a specific moment it can be used to let off steam.

Therefore, it is advisable to use the "garbage time" technique. This technique consists of setting aside 15-30 minutes a day to unburden oneself and talk about thoughts and emotions and address any doubts. Once this time is over, try not to continue with the recurrent and harmful thoughts. In addition, people in the environment should refuse to talk about it again.

In this way, restricting talking about the subject only at a certain time of the day allows you to maintain focus for the rest of the day and reduce the thoughts that make you feel bad.

Likewise, there are narrative resources, such as diaries, where all thoughts, emotions, experiences... are described, but it must also be done during a short and limited time of the day.

Plan pleasurable activities

Beta standby is a time when there are no checkups or clinic visits. All that hustle and bustle is over and all we have to do is wait for the pregnancy test. However, this need to wait when there is great uncertainty generates anxiety.

For this reason, it is important that during the beta wait, activities are carried out as a couple or individually. Distracting activities are best, as the goal is to keep busy and share time as a couple doing things together, to think less about the outcome of the beta and to recover moments together, something that may have been affected during fertility treatment.

Things that produce satisfaction and make you feel better, such as talking to other people, watching a movie, listening to happy music, etc., should be done. Mentally demanding activities such as reading or playing entertainment games and hobbies such as painting, photography or design can also be pursued.

It is possible and advisable to do gentle exercise, such as walking, and if it is outdoors, the better. Rest may increase anxiety and is not necessary, as long as strenuous or weight-bearing activities are avoided.

On the other hand, the usual tasks of the day or continuing to work after an embryo transfer are routines that help to be serene and provide a sense of control.

Practice relaxation techniques.

Relaxation exercises have been shown to help control the level of stress or anxiety during beta standby, especially if you are already practiced. Some of the activities that can be done are the following: deep breathing, relaxation, yoga ormindfulness, to focus on the present and not on the future.

Finally, it is necessary to accept that the manner in which the treatment unfolds and its outcome cannot be controlled. However, there are other things you can do, such as taking care of yourself, taking your medication, following your doctor's instructions at all times and managing all your fears during the beta wait.

All of this is already a great achievement and we should value the effort and dedication put in during the entire course of the assisted reproduction treatment. In addition, one should not hesitate to turn to professional psychologists if the situation is beginning to affect by high stress and anxiety.

FAQs from users

Can having an anxiety attack during the two-week wait affect implantation?

By Olivia De Prado Trigo B.Sc., M.Sc. (psychologist).

No. According to a study carried out in Holland, anxiety levels prior to and during fertility treatment are not predictors of successful fertilization.

Therefore, suffering a panic attack during the twoo-week wait (understanding panic attack as the most intense manifestation of anxiety), does not interfere with embryo implantation. Anxiety in itself alters the emotional state of people, but it does not prevent an optimal result of the medical treatment.

It is of vital importance to attend to the psychological symptomatology that women have throughout the assisted reproduction treatments, since an emotional imbalance causes intense discomfort, even though it does not alter or modify the result of the same.

What are the tips for handling two-week wait?

By Carolina González Arboleya M. D. (gynecologist).

Dr. Carolina Arboleya answers this question in the following video:

It is true that these are very sensitive days on many levels because it is a bit like the end of assisted reproduction treatment. They are those days prior to the moment in which we will know if there is a pregnancy or not. The general recommendations are always to lead a healthy lifestyle. It is true that it is not necessary to rest on those days, far from it. You have to have a quiet, normal life. What does this imply? Well, logically on those days we are not going to run a marathon, we are not going to carry heavyweights, we are not going to make great efforts, but we can lead a normal life with complete peace of mind. Try to be accompanied by family and partner, have a good diet and try to control those nerves that it is normal and logical that they may appear.

What should you eat during the two week wait?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Broadly speaking, following a balanced diet which includes fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, etc. is the most advisable. Some specialists recommend including dried fruits and nuts, as well as gelatin, which is a protein-rich food. On the other hand, eating ham is unadvisable, as it increases the risk of having toxoplasmosis in case you're pregnant.

As for what to drink, alcohol and fizzy drinks should be avoided at all costs. Staying hydrated is a must, so pay attention to drinking plenty of water. Include orange juice and isotonic drinks as well, given their high content in mineral salts.

Do I have to be on sick leave during the beta wait?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

This is a personal decision that will depend on each person's situation and work.

In general, during beta standby you should lead a normal life. However, it is not advisable to make great efforts during beta-waiting, so if the work requires some kind of intense activity, the specialist should be consulted about the advisability of taking time off work.

On the other hand, working may help the person to keep busy and think less about the pregnancy test result. However, if work generates more stress, you can take a few days off to take care of yourself and do other pleasurable activities that generate well-bein

Suggested for you

If you want to read more information about the psychological aspects of assisted reproduction, we recommend you to visit this link: Psychological aspects of assisted reproduction.

On the other hand, if you want to know how many attempts it is advisable to make in assisted reproduction, you can read the following article: How can infertility be prevented from causing problems for the couple?

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

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FAQs from users: 'Can having an anxiety attack during the two-week wait affect implantation?', 'What are the tips for handling two-week wait?', 'What should you eat during the two week wait?' and 'Do I have to be on sick leave during the beta wait?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Ainhoa Búa Fernández
Ainhoa Búa Fernández
Clinical Psychologist
She has a degree in Psychology from the University of Santiago de Compostela and has a long career as a clinical psychologist. More information about Ainhoa Búa Fernández
 Carolina González Arboleya
Carolina González Arboleya
M. D.
Dr. Carolina González has a degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Santiago de Compostela. Currently, Dr. González is doing a Master in Assisted Reproduction by the Technological University TECH and another one in Aesthetic, regenerative and anti-aging medicine by the Complutense University of Madrid. More information about Carolina González Arboleya
Member number: 282875780
 Olivia  De Prado Trigo
Olivia De Prado Trigo
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Olivia de Prado Trigo has a degree in psychology from the University of Deusto and is a specialist in perinatal psychology from the European Institute of Perinatal Mental Health. More information about Olivia De Prado Trigo
Member number: BI04350
 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV

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