The holidays bring a dramatic change in our usual routines. For most of us the festivities include more food and perhaps alcohol, travel, large gatherings of friends and family, more stress, and less rest. We wouldn’t have it any other way! But if you are pregnant, many holiday traditions require some special consideration. Here are a few tips to help our expectant moms enjoy the holidays safely.
Remember that “eating for two” is not a good way to think about your pregnancy diet. A healthy pregnancy only requires about 300 extra calories per day. And newer guidelines suggest that women who become pregnant at a normal weight should gain about 1 lb. per week (after the first trimester). For women whose body mass index (BMI) at the start of pregnancy is higher than 25, your obstetrician will probably suggest a slower rate of weight gain. Don’t make your weight one of your holiday “stresses.” Just continue to concentrate on a well-balanced diet and regular exercise. Limit refined carbs (sweets) as best you can amid the temptation.
Besides the general guidelines above, pregnant women should avoid certain specific foods. Listeria is a bacterial organism that can grow well in some foods. It causes a type of food poisoning that is very dangerous to pregnant women and their babies. At the holiday hors-d’oeuvre buffet, use caution around the cheese board. Avoid soft cheeses, like brie or camembert, blue-veined cheese, feta, and some Mexican cheeses. Grabbing a hot dog while you’re out shopping may sound like a time-saving idea, but hot dogs and processed deli meats are more likely to contain Listeria. Avoid sushi or any raw or undercooked fish, refrigerated smoked seafood or meat spreads. Click here to read more about Listeria and pregnancy. The traditional eggnog is also off limits if it’s homemade (using raw eggs). Store-bought pasteurized eggnog is fine.
No amount of alcohol is considered safe for your unborn baby. Sorry, this year you’ll have to come up with alternative beverages for the holiday toasts.
With sensible precautions, most pregnant women can travel safely. However, your doctor will want to discuss your travel plans with you especially if:
- Your pregnancy is in its 36th week or later
- You have a high-risk pregnancy
- You are planning travel outside of the U.S.
- You are planning a cruise
The Transportation Safety Administration considers its security scanners safe for all travelers, including pregnant women. However, you can request an alternative screening by a female agent if you prefer. Whether travelling by car or plane, you should stretch your legs by walking every couple of hours to avoid blood clots. You can also wear compression socks to help with blood flow in your legs. Wear your seatbelt by placing it low on your hip bones, below your “baby bump.” Check with us if you believe you would travel more comfortably with anti-nausea medication.
Whether you are among the holiday crowds at the mall or at a big family gathering with lots of sniffling little nieces and nephews, you will inevitably be exposed to more contagious illnesses over the holidays. Pregnant women face a greater risk of serious complications from the flu and Covid-19, so be sure to get the immunizations your doctor recommends. The holiday gathering is also an excellent time to remind your family members to make sure their flu shot, COVID, and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccinations are up-to-date if they plan to have contact with your newborn. It takes a couple weeks after the shots for these vaccines to provide protection, so sooner is better! Click here to read more about the whooping cough vaccination.
Your holiday due date
If your due date is late December or early January, you or dad might start hoping that your little one will appear before the holidays, or perhaps in time for this year’s tax deduction. As always, we want to discuss your birth plan with you. We cannot consider any induction of labor for a non-medical reason before your pregnancy has reached 39 weeks.
Contacting your obstetrician
You can find our holiday office hours on the Home Page of our website, www.sparksandfavorpc.com. If you think you may be in labor or have another emergency concern that requires our immediate attention, you can reach the obstetrician on-call for our group 24/7 by dialing our regular office number and leaving a message with the call center for the doctor to return your call. Over the holidays, like always, we do not share call with physicians outside our group.
And one more bit of advice (of course)—rest when you can and don’t over-stress! Your physicians and our staff wish you a wonderful holiday season and abundant joy in the coming year with your newest family member!