Many of my fertility patients express that they find Christmas the hardest time of the year. At this time, there tends to be a heavy focus on family and children, which is a constant reminder of what they are striving for. Although, if you’re going through fertility treatment, such as IVF, it’s natural to be feeling frustrated, sad or disappointed and therefore not very festive at all.
Having a plan for this time of year can help you feel more in control and hopefully allow you to make the most of the break, so that you can come back in the New Year with renewed energy to continue your fertility journey.
So if you are anxious about how you are going to cope here are some tips to help you manage the festive season…
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the ‘party’ season
Even though December can be a time of year to be merry, don’t forget or dismiss the basics about your diet and lifestyle that can help to optimise your fertility. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a drink, but think about the frequency and quantity. Two glasses of wine a couple of times a week is fine, but avoid binging.
Keep taking your folic acid supplements as, if your treatment is successful, this reduces the risk of neural defects, most commonly spina bifida in babies.
Eat a well-balanced diet to maintain a healthy BMI and try to balance those extra indulgences with some exercise. That might mean just going for a half hour walk with your partner or a friend.
Moderate your caffeine intake to no more than two cups a day and I cannot stress this enough, no smoking, not even socially. This goes for the men too.
Preparing for social gatherings
Be selective about which invitations you accept and decide in advance the events you will be comfortable attending. It’s ok to put yourself first so don’t feel guilty about declining invitations.
If you feel like you have to attend, plan to spend only a short amount of time at the event – just pop in a say hi then excuse yourself.
Prepare for questions from well-meaning friends and relatives about when you are planning on starting your family. Have prepared phases such as ‘I appreciate your interest and care but I don’t have any news to share at this time’ or an off the cuff response such as ‘We’re still having fun practicing’.
It can also be a good idea to have a private ‘get me out of here’ signal with your partner or a close friend in case you become overwhelmed and pre-plan an exit strategy.
Nurturing your relationship
For couples having difficulty conceiving it can be easy to lose focus of the reason you are in this situation in the first place – your relationship with the person you love. So take the holidays as an opportunity to break a fertility treatment routine and spend this time focusing on each other and reconnecting.
Need some additional support?
A lot of patients find it helpful to talk with someone who understands what they are going through, who will listen and provide advice. All of our clinics offer support through our counselling team and if you are currently undergoing treatment I encourage you to access this service.
We also have a private fertility forum, where you can connect with people going through a similar journey as you, so if you’re a member, make sure you logon. If you’re not a member, why not register today?
Visit your local forum: IVFAustralia Fertility Forum, Qld Fertility Group Fertility Forum, Melbourne IVF Fertility Forum
Most importantly be kind to yourself, have some self-compassion and do things that you enjoy.
Take care of yourself and we wish you all the very best this holiday season.