Fertility & Preconception

Infertility: Coping During Holiday Season

by Nikki Warren on Dec 19, 2023

Infertility: Coping During Holiday Season

The holiday season can be a joyful time for many of us. However, couples suffering from infertility or having trouble conceiving may dread the holiday period.

If you are unable to conceive a child, you may experience feelings of sadness, frustration, or hopelessness. These emotions may be particularly heightened when you witness other families during holiday season.


Our Tips for Navigating the Festive Season When You're Struggling to Conceive:

·      Acknowledge that feeling upset is common and normal.

·      Make a self-care plan to support yourself.

·      Reach out for support during the holiday season from loved ones or your GP.

Read on to explore how to cope with infertility during the holiday season.

If you are a family member/friend to a loved one struggling with infertility, we'll share how you can best offer support.


It’s Normal to Feel Upset About Fertility Struggles

If you're struggling to conceive, it's absolutely normal to experience emotional challenges during the holidays. Seeing other family members or friends who are pregnant, have children or a newborn can be a painful reminder of our own challenges. It's normal to feel a range of emotions. Feeling sad, frustrated, jealous, angry, or upset are all normal reactions.

To prevent your emotions from becoming overwhelming, it is important to recognise them and express them in a healthy way. 


Support Your Wellbeing With a Self-Care Plan

Making a self-care plan on what you can do to support yourself during the festive season is important. At a time when we typically focus on gifting others, remember to prioritise your wellbeing too. Making a list of activities that make you feel good is a great way to create coping mechanisms. Write these activities down to refer to when you are feeling upset.

Journalling about how you are feeling can be a great tool to help you become aware of your emotions/thoughts so that you can begin to unpack them before feeling too overwhelmed.

Planning how you will cope at social events and family gatherings and having a few tools in place is important. In some situations, family members may ask triggering questions or discuss difficult topics around pregnancy and fertility. Finding ways to manage emotions in these circumstances will help to put your mental health first, but also allow us to celebrate news with others joyfully.

Some tips for navigating difficult conversations at family gatherings include:

  • Take a moment away from everyone to calm down/regulate your emotions.
  • Politely ask family members to avoid asking you about your fertility if needed (even before you catch up).
  • Try to be present and focus on enjoying the company of those around you and speak about other topics with them.
  • If you feel up to it, enjoy and play with nephews and nieces at the event to appreciate them in your life.
  • Know that it is okay to take it easy and rest when needed.


Struggling with Infertility? Reach Out for Support

It's important to seek help from others instead of dealing with infertility emotions alone. Seeing a counsellor or psychologist can help you feel supported and cared for during this time. They can also help you navigate and assess your feelings more and give you tailored advice on how to cope.

There are infertility support groups that you may join to build a community with other people facing similar struggles with infertility. This can help you feel less alone in your journey and you may turn to each other for support during the festive season. 


How to Support Family & Friends Experiencing Infertility Struggles

As a family member or friend, you may be wondering what you should or shouldn't say to your loved one struggling to conceive. It can be hard to navigate this. A lot of people may try to give advice or tips on what helped them get pregnant, and whilst this can come from a good place, it can further add to the stress and feel unsupportive.

It is also common for family members or friends to say things such as ‘when are you having a baby?’ ‘Hurry up and give me a granddaughter!’ ‘I can’t wait until you guys have kids!’ and so on.

Whilst in the moment it may seem fine to say these things, it often places more pressure and can be upsetting to your loved one, or even make them feel like it is their fault they haven’t conceived yet.

To support loved ones on their fertility journey some tips include:

  • Asking them how they are feeling – an open-ended question lets them answer as they wish.
  • Asking them about other topics – work, study, hobbies etc.
  • Compliment them on something they have achieved that year/what they are wearing or if they cooked a meal for the lunch.
  • If they do want to talk about their fertility concerns with you – don’t give advice to them, listen and empathise. Say thinks like ‘I’m sorry to hear that, that sounds hard’, ‘I hope you’re feeling ok, I’m here to talk about it further if you like’, ‘is there anything I can do to support you better right now?’
  • Simply offering them a hug if they are upset can show you care too.

The main thing is to let them lead the conversation and ask open ended questions. Let them know you’re there for them and they can talk to you anytime when they’re ready.

The holiday season can be a joyful time. However, people having trouble conceiving may dread the holiday period and the conversations that come with it.

It's okay to feel grief, frustration, or hopelessness and long for a baby, especially at family gatherings and during special times of the year. Reaching out for support and making a self-care plan can help you cope during the holiday season. 

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