Pregnancy vs Christmas

The office party, shopping for presents, avoiding booze - Christmas can be stressful, but especially so when you're pregnant. Our midwife Sophie has written a survival guide to help you through the festive season.

Pregnant woman in warm winter clothes.

Pregnancy blog, 14/12/2016, by Tommy's midwife Sophie

1) Look after yourself

Whether it’s at a work Christmas party or a festive family gathering, make sure you are being taken care of by your family and close friends.

  • Take the opportunity to have a sit down if you need to – this will also help you to avoid getting swollen ankles.
  • Varicose veins (which occur when blood collects in the veins which causes swelling and discomfort – most often in the legs and feet) and can also be uncomfortable – so put your feet up on grandpa’s footstool and let someone else bring you your mince pie for dessert.  
  • Christmas shopping while pregnant can be tough. Wandering around the high street with heavy bags (and a sizeable bump) is not good for your supple pregnancy joints - make sure you take the time for a tea break. 
  • Try to avoid lifting heavy items, like bags of spuds, and try to minimise the risk of injuring yourself by bending your knees, not your back when picking up items from low supermarket shelves.

Many mums-to-be have made their peace with buying their presents online. We think it’s a great idea, especially if you’re in the third trimester. There are less stressful ways to stay active, like taking a walk in your local park!

2) Keep active

Family time can be both a joy and a pressure during pregnancy. If the Christmas prep and festivities are getting too much for you, then why not take yourself and your bump (and maybe the dog) for a crisp winter stroll.

  • Low impact exercise such as walking, swimming and pregnancy yoga is great for your body and your mind. It can enhance your sleep, your physical stamina and even help you to prepare for labour and birth. 
  • We also know from research that exercise in pregnancy helps to lower stress levels and produces feel good hormones called endorphins, which give you a happy boost.
  • A good dose of fresh air to help blow away the cobwebs can do wonders for your mental wellbeing – so grab your hat, scarf and a pair of comfy shoes – and enjoy all that winter has to offer!

3) Make Christmas stress free (as it possibly can be!)

Christmas is a holiday so make sure you get some quality time with your partner.

  • A movie night in, a little walk to go see some local Christmas lights, or a trip to see the Panto. Spending Christmas with your partner, the last before your bundle of joy arrives, is an important time to bond and look forward to exciting times ahead.

4) Accept help

  • Allowing someone else to peel the spuds, wrap the presents or lay the dinner table can really help ease the pressure of the festive season.
  • It’s a good way to get used to having the help you'll need once your little one has arrived. Allow yourself to be looked after if you are feeling overwhelmed.

5) Make a festive mocktail

Both the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) advise that pregnant women should completely abstain from drinking alcohol during pregnancy. That's because alcohol can harm your developing baby.

For many mums, a festive tipple is hard to resist. So why not try making one of these Christmas inspired fruit punches or smoothies instead? Not only is this best for you and your baby, but it’ll also leave your hungover friends and relatives rather jealous:

Santa Claus Smoothie

You’ll need 1 banana, a pinch of nutmeg, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, a cup of milk, two cups of crushed ice – blend into a thick smoothie.

Penguin Punch

Try orange juice, mixed with lemonade and a pinch of ginger.

Winter Warmer

Try heating some cranberry juice, a stick of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and some orange zest.

6) The dos and don’ts of festive feasts

  • Turkey is rich in protein and low in fat, but please make sure that it is thoroughly cooked before eating. Food poisoning can be dangerous in pregnancy so it's important to prepare food safely
  • Enjoy your winter veg – carrots, broccoli, peas, cabbage, sweetcorn, parsnips, green beans etc – all of these are an essential part of your diet and are high in nutrients and vitamins which help to keep both you and baby healthy.
  • Beware the deli/cheese board at the Christmas buffet. Unpasteurised, blue or mould-ripened cheeses, dry cured and smoked meats and any pates, can contain bacteria (listeria and toxoplasmosis) which could cause long-term health problems for your growing baby.
  • Find out which other foods to avoid here.
  • Eating for two is a myth – you only need an extra 200 calories a day in the third trimester – that’s equivalent to one small mince pie.
  • Christmas pudding contains dried fruit – which can help with constipation – but please do abstain from the brandy butter by having a small dollop of cream instead.

7) Travel smart

  • If you're away from home this Christmas then remember to take your pregnancy notes with you. They let medical staff know your full antenatal history and help them to give you the right treatment. Think of them as your and baby's passport to the best possible pregnancy care. 

  • If you're jetting off on a plane for some winter sun then take the following precautions. Wear support stockings to help blood flow, drink plenty of liquids and if it's a long haul flight try to keep mobile during the flight by walking up and down the aisle every hour or doing leg stretches.

8) Be prepared and know your contact numbers

  • Pre-packing your hospital bag a little earlier than necessary will minimise the risk of having to run around looking for things when labour starts.
  • Make sure you’ve bought plenty of nappies, maternity pads and other newborn essentials before the supermarkets opening hours are reduced or have sold out of things during the festive period.
  • Also ensure that you have all of your important telephone numbers to hand – ensure you have the contact numbers for your labour ward, birth centre, and day assessment unit.
  • If you're booked for a home birth, ensure you know how to contact your midwife on call, or you have an alternative plan if required.
  • Please remember that all maternity services, including hospital labour wards, birth centres, and maternity wards, are open 24/7 over the festive period and will want you to call if you have any concerns. 
  • If you feel unwell, have a sudden severe headache, experience a change in your baby's movements, or have any of the symptoms listed here you should call them immediately.

Remember your local maternity ward is open 24/7 throughout the Christmas period. There is always a midwife on hand to help you. If you're worried about your or baby's health this Christmas keep calm and #CallTheMidwife.

Find out when you should call the midwife

More on staying stress free in pregnancy

More pregnancy in the news

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