Being pregnant is an exciting time for women, but being pregnant during the holidays can often become stressful, especially when hosting holiday events. An expert at Baylor College of Medicine says setting limits and reserving time for restful enjoyment can help lessen stress during the busy month.
“With the holidays comes a lot of potential stress,” said Dr. Nina Ali, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor. “There is the stress of hosting and attending parties, looking good, completing your shopping list, and coordinating travel with the rest of your family and friends. All of this can add up for someone who is pregnant.”
Having a healthy diet plays an important role in avoiding health complications during pregnancy, but dealing with stressors during the holidays can make maintaining a good diet difficult. “We really want to make sure that meals have nutritious value and sweets are not excessive. We don’t want people to feel like they are missing out on the fun and food during the holidays but I recommend taking it in moderation,” said Ali.
One challenge pregnant women face during the holidays is consuming high-carb foods and sweets. “Women in their third trimester of pregnancy may develop gestational diabetes or become insulin resistant,” she said.
Another concern for pregnant women is the potential for food poisoning. According to Ali, pregnant women are 10 times more likely to have food poisoning than the general population. “This can be avoided by good hygiene and regular hand washing while preparing foods or touching raw meat or vegetables. Also, avoid sharing cups or utensils with children and friends,” she said.
It is also important for women to follow what their body is telling them and to remember the basics of maintaining overall good health. “They should make sure they are eating nutritious foods, staying well hydrated and not overexerting themselves. They should really be mindful of heavy lifting to avoid causing extra strain to keep the pregnancy going smoothly,” she said.
Some women may experience preterm contractions from overexertion. For women who experience preterm contractions Ali says it is best to call your obstetrician for instructions.
Travel is generally safe in pregnancy, however for women who are near 36 weeks, she says it is best to stay close to home. “If you are traveling by plane or car, you should take time to get up to stretch and walk around every few hours to avoid getting blood clots and potential swelling.”
While holidays often can be stressful, they also can be fun. Ali encourages women who are pregnant to relax and give themselves time to unwind and prioritize what is important.
“Activities like massages and yoga are great to manage stress relief. Massages can help with excess strain on muscles that do not normally have to be as strong as they are during pregnancy. If you notice that you overexerting yourself by doing a lot of walking in the shopping centers, or the stress of coordinating parties brings on stressful symptoms for you, then those are things that are can be avoided or delegated.”