Always, Katie: September 2018


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

IVF Superstitions and Traditions in Barbados

IVF patients – like many specialized communities – have our fair share of superstitions and traditions! While some of them are based in science or folklore, some seem to be pretty random. Some patients take them more seriously than others, but I think most of us know of at least a few and have at least given some thought to whether or how we will integrate these superstitious practices into our treatments.

However, when you do IVF abroad, some of these require a bit of advanced planning, and some need to be adapted to the locale of your clinic. For patients at Barbados Fertility Centre, here are a few common IVF superstitions and how they can be adapted or accomplished in Barbados.


Pineapple is probably the most famous IVF superstition. The fruit has become a symbol for the community, to the point that when I see someone wearing a pineapple on their clothing, I wonder if they’re a TTC sister or if they just like pineapples :-)  Specifically, the IVF tradition involving pineapple is to buy a fresh pineapple, cut it into five equal slices, and then eat one slice every day (including the core!) starting on the day of embryo transfer. This is based on the fact that pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which can aid in implantation. While the amount of bromelain in pineapple is probably not enough to make or break a cycle, it can’t hurt! (Unless you’re allergic to pineapple… in which case I suppose it could hurt quite a bit.) This is an easy one to follow in Barbados! Pineapples can be found relatively easily at grocery stores or even roadside produce stands. As long as your lodging has a refrigerator where you can store slices for a few days, you’re golden. If you’re flying home before those five days are up, just eat what you can in Barbados and then buy a new pineapple at home.

Warm feet, warm uterus. 

Supposedly, keeping your uterus warm helps embryos implant, and for some reason, keeping your feet warm is supposed to keep your uterus nice and cozy toasty. Keeping your feet warm in tropical Barbados is not difficult! Make sure to pack a couple of pairs of fun, fuzzy socks or slippers, just in case the air conditioning in your hotel is TOO awesome. 

Lucky socks. 

Probably an extension of “warm feet, warm uterus,” the tradition of wearing lucky socks is a fun one! Wearing good luck charms to procedures – especially retrieval and transfer – definitely helps boost morale, and a positive mind can only help the IVF outcome. If you have good luck charms, consider packing them. Balance that desire, though, with how devastated you would be if the charm was lost in transit. Socks are small and easy to tuck in a carry-on, so you can keep them close at hand. 

Lucky shirts. 

Again, good luck charms keep your spirits up! Lots of people order special shirts or have them designed for their retrieval and/or transfer days. Here are a few of my favorites from Etsy, or if you need something more quickly, here are some of my favorites on Amazon! If you want something custom-made, join the sneak-peek group for my upcoming Etsy shop and I’d be honored and delighted to help you design the perfect shirts for your big days!

McDonald’s French fries. 

A lot of folks believe in stopping for McDonald’s French fries on their way home from transfer. Unfortunately, there are no McDonald’s in Barbados! There are two options that my BFC friends and I have found that seem like great alternatives, though. Blakey’s is a restaurant and bar right across the street from the clinic. Their patio overlooks the ocean, and their fries are DELICIOUS! It’s easy and convenient to pop across the street to eat before heading back to your hotel. Chefette is Barbados’s version of McDonald’s… it’s chicken-based and a really fun menu (including ice cream). They do have fries (or chips, as they call them). They’re a little more out of the way, but there’s a location not too far from the clinic. Your cabbie can take you there, because you probably won’t feel like walking quite that far, but it’s not a huge detour. I definitely recommend trying both of those places at some point during your stay! And they’re not paying me to say that… even though I asked ;-) 


Turtles - especially sea turtles - are a symbol of fertility because of their massive clutches of hatchlings. Barbados is one of the best places you can be if you want to see sea turtles in person! 
  • You can snorkel with them from many of the beaches. All beaches in Barbados are public, so if you have a snorkel and mask, you're free to dive on in. 
  • There are several catamaran cruises you can take to see sea turtles. Some are glass bottom boats, so if being *in* water isn't your thing, you can still see turtles if they swim under the boat. Look into Cool Runnings and Shasa... I've never been on a catamaran cruise, but I've heard good things about both of these companies. Read reviews, though, because different companies have different atmospheres, so make sure the one you choose is your style. There are boozy party cruises, athletic adventure cruises, family-friendly cruises, even private cruises. 
  • We went on a really cool submarine ride with Atlantis Submarines Barbados during our first trip to Barbados, and saw two sea turtles on the night time cruise. I believe that they're even more common to see during the daylight cruise. Either way, it was an amazing experience that I highly recommend!
  • Follow Barbados Sea Turtle Project on Facebook for the possible chance to attend a release of hatchlings! They do great conservation work, and I love following them and learning about them. There has never been a release open to the public when I've been on the island, but SOMEDAY, I hope to get to attend one.
  • On a Friday night, head over to the famous Oistins fish fry. Grab some delicious fish as fresh as can be, and make sure to venture down the pier. You'll see workers feeding discarded fish guts to sea turtles off the dock, and you can watch them eat happily. If you stop by De Red Snapper, tell Althea I said Hi! She'll probably remember me as the mom of the little guy she held and comforted after he threw up. 

Brazil Nuts or Hazelnuts.

Both of these have been traditionally considered by various cultures to be lucky or fertility-boosting, and now we know that they are packed FULL of all kinds of good nutrients for moms and babies! I always (ALWAYS) recommend packing as much snack food as possible for couples going to Barbados for IVF because of the astronomical prices of food there, and packets of nuts and trailmix are one of my favorite things to suggest because low carb and high protein is recommended to prevent OHSS. So do some double duty and pack some mixed nuts that include Brazil nuts or hazelnuts. And maybe a jar of Nutella ;-) It's health food in this case, you know.

Sea Glass.

Barbados Fertility Centre patients have our own little superstition/tradition involving sea glass. Sea glass is broken pieces of glass that are tumbled in the sea and sand until they're smooth and frosted. I love the metaphor of how the process of creating sea glass is so much like infertility... you can check out my video about it above. Bathsheba is my favorite place to hunt for sea glass, but there are several other beaches where it can be found! I recommend going to a beach on the east coast and enjoying a relaxing day of leisurely beachcombing as a way to unwind and distract your mind from the IVF stress, and then hang on to your beautiful treasures as a reminder that sometimes beautiful results come from trials.

What are some other IVF traditions or superstitions I missed? I'll try to figure out how you can incorporate those while you're away from home for IVF, too!

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