Coping physically when you’re trying to conceive (TTC) over Christmas can be challenging. Christmas is a period full of temptation where everyone around you is often overindulging. If you are undertaking IVF or TTC you should try and keep to as healthy a diet as possible but this isn’t the time to make yourself miserable. Here we look at how you can look after yourself and cope physically when you’re TTC at Christmas.
Watch the alcohol temptation
You will probably already be avoiding alcohol if you’re trying to conceive, but Christmas may provide greater temptation than usual. Keep in mind your fertility goals and try to continue to avoid alcohol. However, one glass on Christmas day should be ok (only one!). You can always swap alcohol for a nice hot chocolate, experiment with your favourite non alcoholic beer, or why not try mulling apple juice instead of cider or wine?
This may cause questions among people who don’t know about your fertility journey or struggles so you might want to think about what your response may be if this arises. We cover this in more detail in our ‘dealing with well-meaning family’ article.
Make sure you get your 8 hours‘ sleep
Getting adequate sleep is important for your body and at Christmas it can be tempting to have late nights. You might find yourself running around all day, having lots of visitors or attending various gatherings and parties. Have fun but don’t overcommit yourself to obligations and feel free to say ‘no’ to invitations, or leave early, if you feel you need to rest or have had too many late nights. Everything in moderation.
Watch the sugar
We all know Christmas is a great excuse for receiving and eating too much chocolate and other high calorie goodies and our waistlines often suffer as a result. Don’t make yourself miserable – enjoy a few treats but keep an eye on your sugar intake and don’t get carried away, like most of us do.
Enjoy your veggies
Whether you love or hate our little green sprouts, make sure you take full advantage of Christmas vegetables. Veggies are full of nutrients and goodness and are much better for your waistline than chocolate so fill yourself up on those cold nights with lots of tasty veggies.
When you’re busy or out at Christmas gatherings it can be easy to neglect your water intake. Try to make sure you keep well hydrated – you can take a reusable water bottle with you and set an alarm on your phone as a water reminder if needed.
Although it’s tempting to curl up watching films over the Christmas holidays, try and keep active by taking nice winter strolls or dancing around the living room singing Maria Carey at the top of your voice. It doesn’t have to be a full on Zumba session but some moderate exercise is good.
There may be lots of offers of tea and coffee over Christmas. You can’t always avoid caffeine entirely but you can try to plan ahead and take your own decaf or herbal teabags.
Keep festive stress to a minimum
This is good advice for anyone but it’s especially important when you’re trying to conceive. Rushing around the shops, getting into debt when you may already be saving for, or have paid for, IVF treatment is going to cause added pressure you don’t need. Maybe try handmade gifts, which are cheaper but much more thoughtful – and it helps the environment too. You could try Secret Santa which is so much easier than getting a gift for everyone. You decide a price limit per person, pull a name out of the hat and buy for that one person. Everyone gets a present and saves money at the same time, what’s not to like?
Set your boundaries
Give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to gatherings or people who you don’t feel comfortable around. Spend time with your close friends and family who understand you and your journey and who are supportive and won’t ask awkward questions or expect anything of you. If you have to attend a gathering, set a time limit in advance ‘we’ve got a few places to be so will only be able to stay for a couple of hours’. Taking your own car is a good reason for not drinking and means you can leave whenever you like.
Perhaps you want to decide to have a quiet Christmas
Where you and your partner can spend some quality time together at home, which might be important if you have had a stressful time trying to conceive. You could even go on a mini break together or treat yourselves to a lovely Christmas meal out. You can see other people at other times so choose whatever works for you and how you’re feeling.
If you are going through IVF treatment, you might have medication that has to be taken within a specific time window. Some might need to be refrigerated, so you need to plan ahead and see how you can get around this, if you’re going out and about. There is always the option to say ‘no’ to gatherings, or offer to host at your own house where you are more in control. If this isn’t your first IVF cycle you will already have lots of tricks up your sleeve but the key thing is to remember to put yourself first and don’t put yourself under undue pressure.
If you are TTC you will be aware that there are many over the counter drugs that you should avoid. It’s best to stick to paracetamol only for any pain or headaches.
Prepare, prepare, prepare!
- Plan your day(s) – do you want to be on your own or with family?
- Do you want to tell anyone new about your fertility journey to avoid awkward conversations?
- What answers to ‘those’ awkward questions are you going to give?
- What answers will you give for why you’re not drinking?
- Make sure you have your medications with you, if appropriate, and set a timer so you don’t miss the window for taking them.
- Schedule time for yourself – e.g. a hot bubble bath at the end of the day that you can look forward to, or cosying up to your partner with a trashy Christmas film and chocolates.