Managing diet, exercise and stress when you’re TTC in the Holiday season
We have first-hand experience of both having IVF treatment and also TTC throughout the Holiday season, and it’s not an easy time to be going through either experience.
Our team have pulled together their top tips on how to manage your diet, exercise and stress when TTC.
We hope this article is useful, as always, please do send Amy, a DM via our Instagram, and she’ll get right back to you.
Challenges and stresses of the Holidays
It’s only natural (and expected!) that healthy eating and exercise goals grind to a halt while social calendars fill up during the festive season, and instead stress and anxiety rise. Meaning if you’re undergoing fertility treatment or trying for a baby, this can only add to the challenges and stresses of the Holidays.
Even if you try to be optimistic and upbeat, a lot of our patients and followers say they find this time of year challenging and often sad. While we can’t change the fact Christmas is for children, and there are constant family reminders around us, we can try out new healthy habits to decrease stress and increase relaxation.
Tip 1: Limit Sweets and Alcohol
TTC is hard enough without laying on extra guilt. Life is about balance; however, it’s worth considering that everything is OK in moderation. A few glasses of your favourite wine or an extra mince pie won’t stop you from getting pregnant, but what they may do is help you feel normal, if only for a few days.
However, if alcohol really isn’t part of the equation, but you want to join in with the fun, there has never been a better time to try some of the many non-alcoholic options such as Seedlips or Wild Life Botanicals low-alcohol and Freixenet alcohol-free sparkling wine.
Tip 2: Opt for high-quality protein
When it comes to dining out, or dining in if you’re hosting this year, chicken, fish, steamed veg and legumes are filling and help sustain energy levels.
Protein and healthy fats also make up essential hormones and influence brain chemicals, stimulating and creating a positive mood. This can help beat the baby blues you may be feeling. If you really want to supercharge your nutrition, consider adding an omega-3 supplement to ensure you are getting enough of these essential nutrients.
Tip 3: Sleep
Traveling all over the country and staying in relatives guest rooms, or even worse, on blow up mattresses in your auntie’s living room, is never going to help with your sleep. And the bad news is that poor sleep can throw off the natural cycles in a woman’s body, including ovulation.
Do what you can to maximise your sleep both in the run up to the big day, and during the festive season. Limit the number of late nights per week, switch off Netflix an hour earlier, read a book and leave your phone in another room at night! Remember the great mantra; the bedroom should only be used for sleeping and sex.
Tip 4: Prioritise exercise
Dark mornings and evenings, plus the fact more of us are back in the office, makes it harder to work out. But if you prioritise exercise, just like you would with work tasks, you’ll reap the benefits.
It doesn’t have to be a spin class; a 30-minute walk around the block or an online workout can keep stress at bay, get those endorphins pumping and boost your positive mood.
If you’re concerned about how exercise affects your fertility or IVF, opt for more low-impact and moderate-intensity workouts like yoga or Pilates. We have a great article about this here.
And remember; you’ll never regret a workout.
Tip 5: Self-care check-in
It’s called “the most wonderful time of the year”. But between buying gifts, hosting parties, trying not to break your healthy habits (or the bank), and attending family gatherings, it can also be the most stressful time of the year.
So, it’s just as important to look after your mental health as it is to look after your physical health.
Pick a time every day to check in with how and what you are feeling. Anxious? Suffering from a headache? Feeling depressed? Nervous butterflies? Tired? Then have an honest conversation with yourself about what you need. Maybe it’s time to put away the ovulation calculator and have a healthy snack, short nap, exercise break or five minutes of quiet breathing to clear your head.
Tip 6: Reach out
Spending time with family and friends over the Holidays is lovely, but it’s also a daunting prospect having to dodge the questions about pregnancy or babies.
If you do decide to tell your friends and family, you might want to consider putting a few boundaries in place, for example, “I wanted to tell you we’re trying to get pregnant, it’s not been easy and I’m not ready to talk about it right now, but I just wanted you to know.”
Choose the people you confide in, make sure they know when they can talk about it and who to, but this will undoubtedly help the whole experience if someone else knows that you trust.
But here’s our biggest tip to remember: you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
Tip 7: Make meals count
Festive parties and their buffets or canapes make it harder than ever to eat well. But if you eat a healthy, filling meal before any festivities, you’re less likely to reach for the unhealthy temptations.
In addition to ensuring you get a lot of high-quality protein in your diet, vegetables, fruits and whole grains will also provide healthy nutrients. So, reach for the carrot sticks and hummus, and avoid the salty snacks!
Tip 8: Relaxation strategies
Namaste. When it comes to relaxation, there are few activities more beneficial than yoga. The physical postures stretch and strengthen the body while the emphasis on breathing and active meditation can quickly heal and restore the mind and body.
If yoga isn’t your thing, acupuncture can boost your mood and your fertility potential.
Tip 9: Positive thinking
Some people choose this time when a family is all gathered to share news such as pregnancy announcements. And this can be particularly triggering if you’re TTC.
Even at times of feeling low (after a friend makes a pregnancy announcement or you see pictures on social media of a new baby) taking a time out to think about the things in your life for which you are grateful will bring you back into the light.
Tip 10: Just Say No
The Holidays are a busy time filled with parties and family get-togethers. Don’t feel pressured to go to every party if you don’t want to. This now the time for self-care. Think about what you like doing, and treat yourselves.
Don’t be afraid to lay low and cancel plans or decline invites. We know from experience it can be especially hard to be around children at this time of year. Be kind to yourself and put yourself first!