Celebrating the Holidays Pregnant: 15 Tips for Staying Healthy and Happy
Are you celebrating for two this year? Before you dress up for a party, shop for yet another gift, or head to grandmother's house, here are a few tips to help you stay healthy and active during the holidays.
See Your Healthcare Provider
Tempted to push back your prenatal appointment until after the holidays? Don’t. Go to your appointment armed with any concerns you might have about your pregnancy and problems that might arise over the next few weeks. For instance, if you get a cold, get your provider’s recommendations for over-the-counter medications you can take safely. If you’re traveling—or even if you have a problem in the middle of the night—what number should you call to contact your provider? Will you be talking to your provider directly, another provider, or a nurse on call? Going over your questions, and getting answers from your provider, will help give you peace of mind before the holiday rush.
Schedule a Hair Appointment
See your stylist to trim, update, or jazz up your hairstyle for the holidays. A new do will help you feel energized and attractive. But keep in mind that during pregnancy your hair changes. According to the March of Dimes, hair becomes thicker, as pregnancy hormones help you hold on to your strands and fewer hairs fall out. Enhance your bulkier locks with a few highlights. Despite the popular notion that the chemicals contained in perms or dyes can harm your baby-to-be, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises thatthere’s minimal risk. They do suggest, however, that pregnant women wait until after their first trimester is over before dyeing their hair, just to be safe. Beyond health issues, stylists point out you should be careful about dyeing your hair: strands may react differently to the chemicals then they did in your prepregnancy days. So try out a few sections of hair before you do your whole head.
Get Dressed Up
A new holiday dress can put you in a festive mood. But who wants to buy a pricey maternity outfit that you’ll only use for a few months—or weeks? Instead of paying for a whole new outfit, opt for a piece or two to accent what you have. Chances are you already have
some pregnancy basics in your closet—a black skirt or pants or maybe a crisp white blouse. (Don’t just stop at your own closet—ask family or friends if they have maternity clothes they’ll let you borrow.) For something special to wear to parties, buy a dressier blouse to add to your simple skirt or maybe a trendy skirt to wear with your favorite maternity blouse. You can even skip shopping maternity altogether. Look for colorful bracelets, necklaces, or dangling earrings to dress up your regular wardrobe. Buy a pricier sweater or dress jacket to wear over your maternity clothes. The best part about buying a few nonmaternity items is that you’ll be able to wear them after baby arrives too!
While pregnant, it’s not just your belly that becomes bigger—your feet can grow, too. You may find that your feet are a half to a full size larger, meaning your regular shoes will be a tight squeeze. Heels will only make the close fit worse. Shoes may pose other problems for you, too. You’re carrying extra weight out front, so your center of gravity may be off. Add to that, pregnancy hormones relax your ligaments. You may have had no problem walking in heels prepregnancy, but it might be more difficult with your bump. Depending on where you live, snowy conditions may make sidewalks and parking lots slick. Don’t add teetering heels to the mix. If you simply can’t live without your strappy heels, bring them with you to a holiday gathering and only wear them for a certain amount of time, like an hour or so. Try to stay off your feet while you have your heels on.
Be Selective at the Snack Table
The popular saying, “you’re eating for two” really isn’t true of pregnancy. Sure, your baby-to-be relies on your diet to nourish her growth, but if you simply double your calories you’re going to gain more than just the regular amount of pregnancy weight.
With so many sweets and rich foods available, it can be difficult not to overindulge, especially with friends and family encouraging you to eat. Come up with a strategy before you visit family or attend a party to avoid overeating. For example, eat a satisfying meal before you go. Or, at the party choose one or two treats to calm your cravings instead of going for one of everything.
But it’s not just weight gain that can pose problems for you at the buffet table. Many holiday favorites, like soft cheeses and deli meats, are pregnancy no-nos. The American Pregnancy Association cautions expectant moms to avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses like Brie, bleu cheese, and others along with deli meats because of the risk of listeria. You may not know the ingredients of cracker spreads and veggie dips. When in doubt, don’t eat it.
If you’re concerned that you won’t find healthy options at a party—or safe options for your pregnancy—bring something to share. If you prepare the dish, you’ll know it contains pregnancy-approved ingredients.
Pass on the Alcohol
Although researchers know that alcohol can pose serious developmental risks for your baby-to-be, there’s no conclusive evidence about just how much alcohol leads to problems. Some doctors say a few sips are okay, while others advise that you abstain completely. According to the American Pregnancy Association, “there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume while you are pregnant.” If you’re concerned about standing out at a holiday gathering as the only guest with a water glass, bring your own bubbly—like sparkling apple juice—to the party.
Keep Drinking Water
With so many events, shopping sprees, and goings-on at the holidays you might forget to drink enough. Water is important in a healthy pregnancy. Your body needs to stay hydrated to provide nourishment to your growing baby and to get rid of waste. Researchers point out that when women become dehydrated there’s a risk of preterm labor pains. While dehydration isn’t likely to put you into true labor, you don’t want to spend your holidays on the couch because of labor pains. Keep a water bottle with you so that you don’t forget to drink often. And plan on taking plenty of bathroom breaks.
Get Ready for Unwanted Attention
It may be nice to be the center of the party, with friends congratulating you and asking how you’re feeling. But some of the attention you receive might not be so pleasant. You may find that well-meaning friends share horror stories of prolonged labors or colicky babies when they see your bump. At parties, you may have complete strangers come up and touch your belly—even without asking. If you don’t want bump admirers cozying up, try this: Carry an oversized purse and put it in front of your belly. Guests will most likely get the hint that your belly is off limits. Understand that with your pregnancy bump you’re bound to get some attention—good, bad, or otherwise.
Fatigue is the first symptom of pregnancy, and one that stays with you until delivery day. Don’t push yourself to exhaustion by going to too many holiday events. You need to conserve your energy to stay healthy—and sane! Use your pregnancy as an excuse to arrive late and leave early from holiday gatherings. When you’re at events and parties, make sure to sit as much as possible instead of standing the whole time. When you get home, elevate your legs to increase your circulation and ease any foot swelling.
Be Prepared for Heartburn and Nausea
Even if it’s been weeks since you’ve had nausea, with new foods, added stress, and crazy schedules you may find that your stomach becomes sensitive again. Your aunt’s sweet potato casserole or your best friend’s shrimp dip may leave your stomach in knots. Carry tummy-soothing snacks like saltines, almonds, or graham crackers with you to minimize your nausea.
Along with nausea, you may experience more heartburn come holiday time. Heartburn is a common pregnancy complaint because increased hormones affect your stomach, causing it to take longer to digest food and even relaxing the body mechanisms that prevent stomach acids from coming into your throat. Eating late at night and munching on spicy or rich foods can all increase heartburn. Ask your healthcare provider about what over-the-counter medications, like Tums, you might be able to take to alleviate heartburn.
Don’t Clean Up
Pregnancy makes you tired—your body is working hard to nourish and develop your baby-to-be. Keep that in mind when the dishes pile up or you want your home to be spotless for guests. Enlist your spouse or friends to help as much as possible. Along with getting more help, set more realistic expectations for housework. Cleaning may not only make you overly tired, it can also be unhealthy. Strong chemicals in cleaning products may produce fumes that can harm your developing baby. Leave the heavy-duty cleaning for your partner or look for simple cleansers with natural ingredients.
Packed shopping malls, long lines, and overly heated retail stores are bound to make you feel sick (even when you’re not pregnant). Avoid the crowds by doing your holiday shopping online. Chances are you can find better deals online, and you can get your shopping done faster. Plus you can have your gifts shipped, often for free, saving you a trip to the post office!
Share Your Sweets
Holiday time equals sweets. Homemade fudge and iced sugar cookies can be hard to resist. Go ahead and have a taste, but avoid eating the whole plate by sharing your treats with others. You’ll become the favorite at work and among friends when you give away some of your sweets. If you simply can’t resist a certain treat, try putting it in the freezer and pulling out one to eat each day instead of eating them all at once.
Connect with Your Partner
During the holidays, find time to reflect on how your life is about to change. Discuss your joys and worries with your partner. Pass on a few parties or gatherings so that you can stay home and have a romantic evening with your partner. Enjoy alone time to talk or kick back and watch an old movie together while it’s still just the two of you.
Show Off Your Assets
Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stay home over the holidays on the couch and wait for your baby to arrive. And just because you have a baby bump doesn’t mean you’re no longer attractive and party-ready. With your pregnancy glow and generous curves, you shouldn’t be shy about dressing up and showing off your mother-to-be body at get-togethers and other holiday events!
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