Navigating the Holidays with Infertility: A Guide to Thriving

Navigating the Holidays with Infertility

The holidays can be full of mixed emotions and complicated feelings, especially when you are struggling to build your family.

Triggers can pop up when you least expect it: cards and Instagram posts of kids on Santa’s lap, gatherings with awkward questions about your family plans, and many more. You are not alone if part of you is dreading the next few weeks. You can still enjoy the holidays, but it’s a good idea to find support and build resilience with self-care strategies to help you thrive through the season. In this post, we’ll review four key steps to help you navigate the holidays with infertility.

Step 1: Make Choices to Support YOU

Recognize the emotional roller coaster ride of struggling with family-building during a time of year where families are highlighted everywhere you look. Plan for the right coping strategy for YOU this holiday season. Try open and honest conversations with loved ones about your feelings and needs. This includes setting your own boundaries for what YOU want to talk about—not simply reacting to the topics that other people bring up casually. Find a healthy outlet for your emotions such as journaling, mindfulness, stress management, or professional help through therapy and support groups. Actively acknowledging the feelings and stress that infertility can bring AND working on tools to express and manage the emotions can truly make this holiday season better for you.

Step 2: Mental Health Before Gatherings

Plan for holiday events and family gatherings where you will likely face some of the strongest triggers for your personal situation. Events can be full of awkward family-building questions and unexpected pregnancy announcements that can knock you over with anxiety. First, realize that for many people, asking about your plans for having a baby or adding to your family feels natural—they may be truly curious, or they are searching for something to ask and family-building can feel like small talk for many. Next, have a plan for a response—options include avoiding the question, changing the subject, or being honest and open—it’s your choice. Part of coping can be avoiding social gatherings when it’s just too painful. Declining an invite or staying for a short time can be the best decision for you. Let go of guilt or worry about social obligations and put your mental health and needs first.

Step 3: Energy, Mood, Emotions

Actively take care of your physical health. Making time for sleep, exercise, and healthy nutrition will give you the energy to be able to focus on your mental and emotional wellness. The holidays can be full of overindulging with drink, sweets, late nights—enjoy responsibly and do what’s right for you, but pay attention to how you’re feeling. Check in with yourself every day on your energy level, mood, emotions—too much drinking, overeating, and lack of sleep can impair your ability to focus on your stress management tools and overall wellness.

Step 4: You Are Not Alone

Find support because you are not in this alone. Infertility can feel isolating—especially when it feels like everyone else is celebrating the holidays with their family and you want nothing more. One in six couples struggles with infertility; one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Struggling with family-building is more common than we often realize, and finding a community to connect with and support you on your journey is essential. If you have family and friends with whom you can share, that’s wonderful, but for many family expectations can be an extra burden. If you have a partner, that person can be there for you but shouldn’t be your only source of comfort. You may be able to find support within your own community, church, fertility practice, or online. See, a nonprofit, patient-led support community online. Connecting with others with shared experiences can help you feel less isolated and more supported any time of the year.


Holidays are joyous yet tough on many levels. Recognize the unique emotions that the holidays with infertility can bring, find coping strategies that work for you, plan for triggers like holiday events, and build your support network. This holiday season give yourself the gift of support and compassion as you work toward building your family.

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Dr. Lora Shahine

Changemakers - Shahine

Dr. Lora Shahine, reproductive endocrinologist at Pacific NW Fertility and clinical faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle, completed her fellowship in reproductive endocrinology at Stanford University and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California in San Francisco. She is dedicated to educating and advocating for increased awareness of infertility, miscarriage, and the impact on environmental toxins on health through an active social media presence, teaching, clinical research, her books including best-selling, Not Broken: An Approachable Guide to Miscarriage and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss, and her podcast, Baby or Bust. Find her at and on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter.

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