Tips for Handling the Holidays
When Trying to Conceive

Written by: Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN

Edited by: Dr. Will Haas, MD, MBA

Last updated: November 11th, 2020

Woman Trying to Conceive During the Holidays Managing Stress

The holidays bring on many wonderful things, including hot chocolate, time to connect with family, and sometimes, snowmen snowwomen!

But the holidays can also mean having your mailbox flooded with cards donning pictures of your friends’ brand-new babies and commercials filled with images of parents and children enjoying the season – things that can be quite triggering if you are trying to conceive during the holidays.

Of course, you can’t turn off your emotions just because Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner. And while you may feel joy and gratitude when digging into some pumpkin pie with your loved ones, welcoming another holiday season without a child of your own can be painful. 

If you are going to be seeing your family member that can’t help but constantly ask when you are going to have a baby, your holiday can be even more challenging. The good news is that there are some things you can do to help enjoy the holidays and make them a bit less stressful. 

So, instead of hiding under your covers from Thanksgiving until New Years, we’ve got some tips to help navigate one of the most wonderful times of the year while #TTC.

Don’t feel guilty about skipping things

Watching little ones tear into gifts or decorate cookies may appear to be innocent activities, but to those trying to conceive, watching children make memories can be hard to witness when you don’t have a child of your own. 

If an event sounds to be more kid-focused, it is perfectly reasonable to decline the invitation – or show up later to the event when you know the kids will already be in bed. And if you are attending these events via Zoom, appreciate the beauty of turning your camera off and walking away.

All this to say, you shouldn’t feel guilty about skipping some things during the holidays, just don’t skip out on everything. 

Enjoy the great outdoors

Although binging on a season of Sex In The City in your bed with a bag of popcorn may sound appealing, spending all day indoors glued to the TV isn’t the best thing to do for your emotional well-being (or your vitamin D levels for that matter!). 

Getting some fresh air and enjoying some sunshine can do wonders for your emotional state. 

And don’t let the cold weather stop you from going out in nature. Something as simple as bundling up and going for a walk can make a world of difference for your mindset. 

Have your response ready

The chances of somebody asking you an inappropriate question about your fertility plans is high over the holidays. Frustrating, but true. 

But here’s the thing – you do NOT owe anyone an explanation as to why you don’t have children if you don’t feel compelled to share. 

Instead of being caught off-guard, we encourage you to have your answer ready for when you get that annoying question. Know if you are going to change the subject, offer a passive response, or be direct and tell the person the truth. 

Whatever your response, there’s no wrong way to handle this situation. 

Do what’s best for you!

Consider (virtual) therapy

Many therapists offer virtual counseling and support, and since the holidays can be an especially challenging time, it may be worthwhile to partner with one for frequent check-ins during the holiday weeks. 

It is nice to have someone in your back pocket to help guide you on how to manage emotions or to make sure you are practicing self-care. 

And don’t be afraid to be proactive when it comes to scheduling time with a trained specialist. We promise the holidays will go much smoother if you actively talk about and process your feelings before they start to bubble up inside. 

Lean on other women TTC

If you have a TTC sister that’s going through a fertility journey as well, then enjoy the notion that she can be your “person” over the holiday season. Make a pact that the two of you will check in with each other over the holidays and help each other if a struggle comes up. 

We encourage that you be a little picky when it comes to choosing your “person” too. If their energy is not serving you, then it’s okay to find support elsewhere.

Take a social media break

You know that people mostly only share positive things on social media, right? 

They only show the perfect image of their perfect little angels in their perfect little holiday attire; not the 10-minute melt-down that little Timmy had because he wasn’t allowed to watch his iPad later in the day. 

The holidays are the perfect time to take a social media break. 

You already know what you are going to see – couples posing under the mistletoe, kids dressed in matching pajamas, and perfectly curated porches. You aren’t missing anything if you skip your scrolling for a few weeks. And it would likely greatly benefit your mental health too.

Practice self-care

By self-care, we don’t mean treating yourself to a pedicure (which is always lovely, by the way). 

What we mean is to really listen to yourself and take care of yourself emotionally. 

If you need to cancel plans last-minute because you know you just can’t make it through the event without crying, then cancel. If you really feel like you need to create a perfect holiday meal to help you feel happy, then get your apron! Need to miss caroling because your body needs a yoga sesh? Honor that feeling, girl. 

Only you know what you need most!

Get quality sleep

Everything seems worse when you are tired… And powering through with 4 hours of sleep and 4 cups of coffee is no way to find your inner zen during the holidays (even if it’s the season for pumpkin spice lattes). 

We are the first to admit that getting 7-8 hours of quality zzz’s per night may be challenging, but try and make it a top priority. It will help with your emotions and may also help you enjoy this season a bit more. 

So if you’re going to enjoy those holiday movies, consider starting them earlier in the evening. And if you’re feeling hip, sport some blue-light blocking glasses after dinner. 

A quick word of caution with sleep supplements… melatonin can be a great option, but we encourage you to talk with your OB/GYN or REI physician as it can disrupt normal menstrual patterns in some women.  Some more safe options to explore include enjoying tart cherry juice or kiwis before bed — those are two remedies that MAY help you relax with little downside. 

Emotional self-care tips during the holiday season

Final Thoughts

The holidays can be tough on a lot of people, but they can be especially challenging when you are trying to conceive. Remember that there is no perfect way to navigate the holidays, and only you will know what will work best for your own needs. 

Listen to yourself… 

Prioritize your must-haves…  

Do what’s best for you… 

Everyone around you will survive with what you need most – we promise 🙂 

With Love & Empowerment,
Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD

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