Christmas can be a particularly tough time when you are struggling to conceive. To help you navigate the festive period we have compiled our top 6 tips to get you through Christmas. You are not alone; we have got you covered!
1. Be Selfish!
Christmas can be so over whelming when you are trying for a baby everything can seem to be about everyone else and there just doesn’t seem to be any “me time”. Be selfish! If there is a party you just don’t feel like going to or family obligations are bringing you down, just step back and ask yourself “will this make me feel better or worse?” Its ok to say no and utilise that time to be completely selfish. Instead, do something you enjoy. Maybe take a relaxing bath, read a book, go for a walk, go watch a movie, whatever you feel like that will give you some sense of self-care.
Many couple who are struggling to conceive find it difficult to open about this with others. Christmas can be a difficult time to hide your emotions and slap on a brave face in front of family and friends. They say “a problem share is a problem halved”, spend more time with those close to you and talk to them about what you are going through and how it makes you feel, it may take a load off your mind and help you to feel better. You can also find support on closed Facebook groups and other online forums to connect with others going through a similar experience.
Men are far more likely to withdraw and even isolate themselves when they are struggling with infertility, finding it difficult to speak openly about feelings of stress and anxiety. Sometimes it can be difficult to open up to someone you know, and you may feel more comfortable speaking to others going through a similar experience that you don’t know personally. FNUK have set up a “Men Only” online support group, offering informal online sessions led by fertility and wellness experts.
3. Adult time
Christmas can feel like a holiday made just for kids, that special magic in the air is usually associated with childhood memories of Santa and the reindeers and it can seem like a constant reminder of wanting to have a child. For those struggling to conceive, reminders like this can affect your mood and leave you with the festive blues.
Find ways to break away from the typical daily routine. Create your own special memories during Christmas which are not related to children. Start a new tradition like wreath making, carol singing, winter walks, Go and see the Christmas lights in your local city, grab dinner and a movie.
Find ways to enjoy your adult time, be intimate, not just physically but mentally too. Create a special Christmas morning breakfast for just the two of you. Or book a getaway for the holiday season, secluded in a cozy log cabin or winter cottage for some R and R, this might be just what you need.
4. Festive treats vs overindulgence
“One of the pleasures of Christmas is to be able to enjoy all the wonderful food on offer,” says Kate Davies, independent fertility nurse consultant. “Balance is the name of the game here – allowing yourself to enjoy the Christmas feast and not feel guilty. However, there are some foods that may help to boost fertility over the Christmas period”
“Nuts are plentiful this time of year and as well as being a fabulous protein source, there is much documented about the benefits of walnuts on sperm health. Enjoy lashings of homemade cranberry sauce with your turkey, as cranberries have high antioxidant capacity and are packed full of vitamin C, E, K1 and manganese. Don’t deprive yourself of a slice of Christmas cake or the occasional mince pie, either – that’s not going to stop you getting pregnant!”
But what about alcohol? Kate explains, “The Chief Medical Officers for the United Kingdom recommend that all women who are trying to conceive should not drink alcohol at all. There is well-documented research into the risks of alcohol consumption on the health of the unborn child and as most women won’t be aware that they have conceived until too late, it is best to avoid.”
“The evidence with regards to the impact on sperm health and alcohol remains uncertain. The NHS recommends that male partners should drink no more than 14 IU units of alcohol, spread evenly throughout the week and therefore binge drinking should be avoided, at Christmas or any other time. Sperm take 3 months to reach maturity and therefore any positive or negative lifestyle choices can impact sperm health.”
“Christmas can be a very difficult time for couples struggling with infertility. Having to avoid alcohol may be even harder if you’re with family who are not aware that you’re trying to conceive. To ward off any unwanted questioning, alcohol-free beverages can be a good alternative and might just help you feel part of the celebrations.”
5. Setting healthy boundaries
Sometimes the pressure of trying to conceive can create unhealthy boundaries between you and your partner. Trudy Hannington, Senior Psychosexual Therapist and former Chair of the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT) suggests “Share your worries without the pressure or the competition of who feels worse. There is often guilt, worry, and blame which can play out in resentments, agitation, frustration and arguments. It is important to give each other time to share those thoughts and feelings so that you can be supportive of one another.”
Secret signals are a great way to manage family obligations. Create a special code to signal to the other you want to leave or get out of a conversation. This can really help you when you are feeling overwhelmed at family gatherings or public places and need support from your partner to exit the situation. Most people use a nudge or a side glance with a head tilt, however you choose to signal your partner this is a great way to help you keep your mind at ease. Knowing you have an exit plan helps form healthy boundaries.
6. Be open
Former fertility patient and “The Fertility Podcast” host Natalie Silverman suggests ways of being open with family and friends. “Making conversations completely on your terms, with what you say and how much you tell, is often better than having pre-prepared answers to expected questions,”
“If you are yet to tell your family, remember that they will want to help you as much as they can and will have no idea how devastated you are feeling. All too often people keep infertility a secret and there is nothing to be ashamed of – it’s not your fault and you need emotional support to help you understand yourself better.”
“On the flip side, it may be a welcome relief to not have to be surrounded by family, so is this a year to make some new traditions for you and your partner, or with friends?”
We hope you found these tips useful, and we wish you a very happy Christmas.