How to reduce stress while trying to conceive

Learning strategies for stress reduction can help you navigate the numerous ups and downs that come with trying to conceive.

stress reduction trying to conceive

Are you trying to conceive or dealing with infertility issues amid a pandemic? Each experience on its own is hard enough, but navigating them during a pandemic might make your stress level go through the roof. As we become focused on having a child, it can evolve into an all-consuming existence riddled with unyielding sadness, frustration and disappointment.

Managing your stress is an essential part of maintaining your overall mental, emotional and physical well-being so that you can navigate this overwhelming experience more soundly. Learning strategies for stress reduction can help you navigate the numerous ups and downs that come with trying to conceive.

When I coach my fertility clients on stress management, I help them establish a foundation of strength, support and self-care.

Here are 4 ways to reduce your stress while trying to conceive.

1. Find your support network.

The journey of trying to conceive can be a lonely, overwhelming and frustrating experience. One of the things I wish I had back when I was starting my own fertility journey was a support group and network of people who understood what I was going through. Thankfully, there are now a myriad of ways to connect with other people who are trying to conceive, like on Instagram and in Facebook groups.

Plus, there are several membership-based communities and apps where you can be in the company of others who are trying to conceive and may be experiencing some form of infertility.

Feeling less alone takes away a lot of the stress, isolation and feelings of inadequacy that you feel when you bottle up your emotions and don't have an outlet.

2. Set boundaries.

Setting up boundaries with the people in our lives can be incredibly helpful in reducing our stress, guiding you in what you choose to do, see and speak about. They can also help prevent getting triggered into a spiral of negativity.

While questions or comments may be well-intentioned, they can still feel hurtful and provoke negative feelings. It's okay to set boundaries with important people in your life about what they can ask you or what you are willing to talk about when it relates to your fertility. If you don't feel comfortable doing this yourself, ask your partner to do it for you.

Your mental and emotional well-being needs to be preserved as much as possible during this arduous journey and you shouldn't feel guilty about the need to do so.

3. Communicate with your partner.

Opening up lines of communication with your partner (whether this your romantic partner or a close friend who will be with you on your journey) is another great way to reduce your stress levels. Back when we partnered with our kindhearted surrogate who carried our twins for us, I learned firsthand what it felt like to be a partner who wants to do so much but can only do so little—I wanted to help her, but sometimes I didn't know how.

When you are trying to conceive and perhaps dealing with infertility, lean on your partner for helpState your needs directly and provide clear instructions for your partner to know what they need to do to support your mental and emotional health and reduce stress levels.

Many of us think our partners can intuit what we need, but usually, that is not the case. Often, they want to provide support, but don't know how and their attempts may even make you feel worse if approached in the wrong way (think of the scene in Sex and the City when Trey bought Charlotte the cardboard baby when she was experiencing her fertility issues. That did not turn out well.)

Whether it's something as little as a hug or perhaps something more substantial, asking for it clearly rather than having them try to guess will benefit you both.

4. Make a self-care toolkit.

Establish a toolkit of tried-and-true strategies that help you tap into your inner calm. It is key to have more than one go-to self-care strategy because every day and situation is different and requires an appropriate modality to assist with stress reduction.

Some days you may need a more physical outlet to decrease your anxiety such as a workout, yoga or a walk with a friend. Other situations may require you to address your mental wellness with mindfulness-meditation or breathing techniques. Then there are those days that are extremely emotional that call for journaling or affirmations of self-love.

Be sure to try out new things every now and then so you can slowly build up your roster of self-care strategies.

When one is in the thick of trying to become a parent, the stress of the process can pile up if left unaddressed; it's important to set up the right foundation to tackle these overwhelming emotions. No matter where you are in your journey right now, it is never too late to establish a foundation of strength, support and self-care so that you can ride the waves of the fertility journey with your head above the water.

If you need some ideas as you assemble your self-care tool kit, here are a few of our favorite products:

'The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama'

motherly guide to becoming mama

When you are trying to conceive, you need loving, supportive guidance. That's exactly what you'll find The Motherly Guide to Becoming Mama. Written by our resident midwife, this book will take you from conception all the way through the fourth trimester, with no judgment, ever.


Find your voice journal

stress journal

Journaling can be incredibly therapeutic, especially when you are going through a stressful process. This journal from Treetop Collective offers prompts and guided reflections to help you make the most of your journaling time.


Unwind bath foam

stress reducing bath foam

Fact: Baths are magic. Enjoy yours as much as possible with this gorgeous lavender and ylang-ylang scented bath foam. It's paraben, silicone, petroleum and SLS-free.Plus, they do not use artificial colors or synthetic fragrances. Soak and unwind, mama.


Solid snug comforter


Getting a good night's rest is essential for stress reduction—having an amazing comforter helps you do just that. A reviewer recently wrote, "This the comforter I've been looking for my entire life." So look no further, mama. Your best sleep ever is just around the corner.


Tea maker

tea maker

There is nothing like cozying up with a book and a delicious cup of tea. The Vahdam tea maker is a beautiful and easy solution to brewing tea from whole leaves. Best yet, this tea maker is dishwasher safe.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Josephine Atluri is a mindfulness and meditation expert.

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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