The time leading up to Christmas is intense for everyone, but when you’re carrying the most precious of cargos, there are extra challenges as the season-to-be-jolly approaches. With socialising, shopping and organizing to do, it’s good to stay mindful and have a few tips at hand so you and Baby can greet the New Year in good condition.
Christmas and New Year are (joyfully) synonymous with food. Dinners and parties with co-workers and friends, along with the two big days themselves, mean we all tend to eat more than normal. Pregnant mamas only need around an extra 300 calories per day – so take it easy on the sugar (including plum-pudding and the Spekulatius cookies!).
It’s also time to remind yourself about the safe-food guidelines for pregnancy. There are always cheese plates in abundance at this time of year, so be mindful of avoiding mould-ripened soft cheeses or anything made from unpasteurised milk. Delicious-looking pâtés are sometimes made with raw egg, so if unsure, just avoid them altogether.
On the topic of cheese boards, perhaps you should also choose to avoid the crackers that accompany them – highly refined white flour is notorious for causing edema (fluid retention), that contributes to swollen joints and in severe cases can make birth a longer and more difficult process. There’s a great guide to eating safely during pregnancy here.
If your Christmas tradition includes roasting a turkey, be sure that it is well cooked (follow this recipe) as all meats should be thoroughly cooked for pregnant mamas.
The hormone beta hCG, present in our blood during the first trimester, is the one responsible for the morning sickness which can drag on into afternoon sickness and can potentially be with us at a low level for our entire pregnancy. As we move further along in gestation, smells that we didn’t even notice before can suddenly bring on a queasy tummy. A simple and effective remedy for nausea is ginger. Keep a few sachets of ginger herbal tea or a small pack of crystallised ginger in your bag for those moments when the smell of lunch cooking and the ensuing bout of nausea catch you off guard. Fresh is best, and if you can get it, a couple of thin slices in a cup of hot water and sipped will almost always bring fast relief. If you don’t like ginger, lightly sweetened peppermint tea can also work wonders.
Sluggish digestion and a higher level of stomach acid mean that eating small amounts regularly can keep nausea at bay and keep your system moving along as it should. This will also help maintain steady sugar and energy levels. Always carrying some nuts, some phosphate-free dried fruit, and a few wholemeal crackers with you is a great habit to develop and one that will serve you well after Bubs is born.
It’s Christmas, and you also deserve to be merry! If you aren’t yet sporting your beautiful baby bump and haven’t told anyone your news, make your excuses and try not to feel pressured into drinking alcohol. Some caterers are happy to serve up “mocktails,” so be sure to ask.
Drinking enough fluid is of paramount importance for keeping your amniotic fluid level steady and also for flushing your hard-working kidneys, which are cleaning the increased amount of blood circulating between you both. You might choose to fill your daily water bottle occasionally with cool herbal tea. You can research suitable teas here .
Being merry also requires getting enough rest. So many parties, so much to do, so little time! Don’t be embarrassed to leave parties early to get a good night’s rest, or even just say no to an invitation in the first place. Being pregnant is tiring work for your body, and once the baby is born there’s the distinct possibility of sleep-deprived nights for an undetermined period. Make it a priority to top up your batteries as much as you can, despite party season, and arrive in new motherhood as rested as possible – both you and your baby (and seriously, other family members!) will thank you for it. Regular pre-natal yoga can help you develop techniques to calm your mind and find better sleep, and it is scientifically proven to decrease the duration, discomforts and complications of labour.
Rest also means not overdoing it; people love to help, so ask a friend to come shopping or help you with decorations if you need to. Festive season also means feeling great. If you haven’t seen past your bump to your toes in a while, perhaps treat yourself to a Christmas pedicure, or spend the afternoon at the hairdresser for a cut or a pretty up-do.
Surviving the “silly season” with Baby on board can still be fun and can be a breeze if you stay mindful. Remember that a little bit of self-care now is going to repay you tenfold in the New Year when the little one arrives, which is actually when the fun truly begins.
By Michelle Seaton Witte
Illustration by Susana Gutierrez
Susana is the mother of two little girls and a freelance illustrator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org