It's no secret that the holidays, while a beautiful time of year, can also be highly stressful. The same can be said for couples trying to make a baby. Preparation and planning for each can be a blessing, but can also be overwhelming. What happens when you mix these two consuming affairs together? Is it a good idea to try making a baby over the holidays?
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's… these holidays not only can bring relational stress, but a higher consumption of food, and perhaps for some, partaking in alcoholic beverages. What happens when you're also trying to actively conceive around the holiday season? It may require some change in habits, and whether or not you have publicly announced you are trying, those changes may take some creativity to explain to prying family members. For instance, grandma may not be too keen on you skipping her seven-layer sour cream potato cheese dip, while Uncle Harry wants to know why you're snubbing his famous homemade eggnog. How you explain these choices is up to you; however, there is no reason you can't handle both the holidays and conception. In fact, it can even be fun. Here are ten tips for what to avoid and embrace this holiday season as you try to conceive.
Skip the Thanksgiving-Eve Bar Fest
In many parts of the country, the night before Thanksgiving is actually the biggest bar night of the year, outranking New Year's and St. Patrick's Day. If you have out-of-town siblings or cousins that are accustomed to hitting the bar the night before Turkey Day, suggest a family night of retro board games instead. Or simply stay home and explain you don't feel the need to add hangover to your turkey-coma tomorrow. There are plenty of warm, bonding opportunities you can experience-and remember more clearly-the night before Thanksgiving that don't involve alcohol, and now is the perfect opportunity to place that priority in order.
Don't overdo Black Friday
Speaking of Thanksgiving traditions, another big one is mega shopping deals the day after Turkey-Thursday, and sometimes the sales even start on Thanksgiving night. While shopping in general should have little to do with trying to conceive, be mindful not to lose too much rest over the event, and pace yourself. Walking the stores can be a great way to exercise, but skip the frantic masses and anxiety. Stay hydrated and don't "shop 'til you drop." Your health matters and stress can effect ovulation. Also, you'll want to watch your expenses as you plan for the baby on the way, so keep your financial indulgences to a minimum.
Curb the Sugar
From pumpkin pies to gingerbread cookies, the holidays mean an excess of extra sugar. Sugar and stress cause weight gain faster than calorie-intake alone. Additional weight gain may affect ovulation or create extra stress once the holidays are over. In moderation, candy canes and chocolate truffles can be fine, but you'd be surprised how quickly these sweets stack up in the holiday season. They aren't going to bring your body the type of vital nutrients it needs when you are trying to conceive. Opt to load up on zinc, vitamin B, folic acid and calcium, rather than loads of dough, chocolate chips, butterscotch and nutmeg.
Carve out Quality Couple Time
Extended families can be down-right demanding over the holiday season. With the calendar packed full of events and dinners, finding the time to actually make a baby can be challenging. The last thing you want to do is make conception all about when to fit it in your schedule. Yes, charting and ovulation can play vital roles in conceiving; however, you don't want it to be all business and no pleasure. Studies show the more relaxed a woman is, the more likely she is to conceive. Create space for spontaneity. Carve out quality time for your spouse and you to have alone time without the pressure. This may mean you say no to some events, especially if it's during your ovulation time, and that is perfectly acceptable to do.
Snow Time Means Snuggle Time
Winter can be a very romantic time of year, and the perfect excuse to stay warm with your spouse. Capitalize on this cuddly opportunity and plan a special snow date. If you have access to a fireplace, set out some faux-fur blankets on the floor for a romantic picnic and spend some time snuggling and setting the mood for baby-making. With the right focus, the holiday spirit may make just the right conditions for a relaxed and romantic time to try to conceive.
Appetizers Aren't Always Your Friend
Before you grab that platter being passed around at your workplace Christmas party, keep in mind that certain foods should be avoided when you're pregnant. Feta or other soft cheeses, shrimp, raw oysters or other seafood, raw meat and even some deli meats, should be avoided when pregnant. Homemade eggnog is actually a double-whammy- as uncooked eggs and alcohol are two big no-no's for the mom-to-be. In conclusion, no matter how much your boss' wife may prompt, just say no to the potluck platter and punch bowl.
Avoid Advice Overload
If your in-laws, aunts or co-workers all know you are trying to conceive, they may all have their own special brands of "dos" and "don'ts" to freely bombard you with over the holiday season. Some of it loving, and some of it, well, unwelcome. Don't let the stream of advice overwhelm you. Consider limiting who you share your conception plans with, or, be ready to let some of the advice go in one ear and out the other. It's amazing what some well-meaning people feel the right to say to other people. Remember that conception is between you and your partner, or with your doctor. Graciously thank them for their concerns or encouragement, and move on.
Focus on Family
While it's good to take everyone's advice with a grain of salt, it's also a great time of year to evaluate traditions and embrace what you love about the holidays. As you start or build your own family this season, take a look at what you want to incorporate for your future holidays with the hopeful blessed arrival of a new little one. Sledding, hot cocoa, decorations, holiday activities; this is a wonderful time of year to focus on what really matters in life, as you take steps to bring new life into the world.
Ring in the New Year Without the Champagne
It's a good idea while you're trying to make a baby to skip the bubbly as the clock counts down to the New Year. This goes for you and your partner, as alcohol affects sperm production and performance for males, as well as creates an unhealthy environment for moms-to-be. There are plenty of ways to celebrate New Year's Eve without drinking. Games, costume parties and watching the Times Square countdown with a big bowl of popcorn are just a few examples. If you're use to bubbles and tall glasses as part of your New Year tradition, switch it out for some sparkling water, ginger ale, or 7-Up. What a small price to pay for a lifetime blessing of a healthy new life to grow your family.
Make the Most of it!
Above all, have fun. The holidays give reason to celebrate, and so does conception. Relax and embrace the love and adventure of it all. Bust out the mistletoe, and toss the stockings up, both on the mantle and the nightstand, and enjoy a merry baby-making holiday with your spouse this special season. Concentrate on the blessing and grace these holidays are centered around, and before you know it, cinnamon rolls won't be the only buns you'll be putting in the oven. Happy Holidays!