It’s the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ again, but often the holiday season can go hand in hand with a good pinch of stress and a dash of anxiety – especially if you’re pregnant.
I passionately believe that pregnancy should be a calm and enjoyable time of life, with the minimum amount of stress. Your body is going through huge changes and you need to prepare on lots of levels to welcome your baby and embrace your role as a mother. Unfortunately quite often there can be work stresses, family dramas and an overwhelming sense of not being able to please everyone, so what should you do?
I’ve put together a mindful guide to enjoying the holidays. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukah or simply enjoying time with your family, here’s how to get the most out of your pregnancy at this festive time of year.
The holiday season is normally packed with parties, dinner dates and celebrations and it can feel like you’ll never be able to keep up when you’re expecting. The most important thing is that you feel well, so take the pressure off and make some ground rules for how much you can and can’t do.
Lower people’s expectations – and your own. You might not be able to stay up as late or travel so far, so be realistic about your limitations – your body is working extra hard to nourish your baby, so be kind to it by not spreading yourself too thinly.
Your baby has given you the perfect excuse to dip out of engagements that can often be more hype than actual fun, so embrace the fact you can put your own agenda first for once. Want to spend Christmas at home instead of visiting far-away relatives – you’re pregnant – so you call the shots! Want to spend New Year’s Eve at someone else’s instead of being the host as usual – make it so.
Inevitably the holiday season presents certain stresses, whether it’s niggly in-laws to arguments over how much time you spend with different family members, to the stress of present buying, there can be a lot of sensitivities to negotiate. I like to keep in mind that millions of other people will be feeling stressed too at that very moment – you’re not the only expectant mum finding this season a strain! A shared experienced makes it feel much lighter so why not find a community online or create a WhatsApp group with pregnant friends to show each other mutual support and give yourself an outlet when you really need to vent.
Pregnancy may feel endless at times, but it only lasts nine months and those weeks really do fly by. If you’re pregnant during the holiday season it’s a lovely time to take stock of the way you’re feeling. Spend time noticing the changes you’re experiencing in your body and imagining what this time next year will be like. Taking photos of your bump next to your festive decorations is a lovely way to mark this special time too.
Honestly, the most productive way to deal with stressful situations and environments is to accept that they’re there. At this time of year you almost have to expect it. Acknowledge that you’re feeling this way but don’t allow the feeling of stress to dictate to you. Instead of saying I AM stressed, turn it into I FEEL stressed – this way the stress is just a feeling, but not part of who you are. Flipping how you process your stress can instantly make it feel like you are more in control.
If your pregnancy is early on and not yet common knowledge, the holiday season can feel particularly difficult to negotiate. At work parties try having a discrete word with one of the bar staff or waiters and ask them to make sure your drink looks like everyone else’s but is alcohol free.
Likewise, if you’re feeling sick and not up for participating in the same way as you usually do, try not to worry about letting people down or missing out. This baby will be well worth it.
There are endless articles and guides about what you should and shouldn’t eat or drink, particularly during the holiday season. Truth be told, in most cases the risks from eating various ‘danger foods’ are incredibly, incredibly low. The most important thing is to do what you’re comfortable with. One glass of champagne is not going to do any harm, but if you don’t feel comfortable drinking a glass when pregnant, that’s fine too. Often seafood and pate are cited as things to avoid – and that’s because of the risk of food poisoning. It’s better to be safe than sorry (no one fancies food poisoning – especially when you’re pregnant) – but ultimately be mindful of your decisions and comfortable in them. A little indulgence in some of your favourite festive foods is nothing to lose sleep over.
Everyone likes shopping for party wear at this time of year – and that can be a bit more challenging when you have a bump to accommodate! My advice is to choose clothes that make you feel smart, comfortable and relaxed. Try maternity specific brands for clothes that are extra kind to a growing bump.
The holiday season is full on – so take advantage of your need to nap. The average pregnant woman needs more sleep, so let someone else clear the table and put the rubbish out – you need to catch up on those Zzzs. A couple of thirty-minute catnaps can be more beneficial than a longer two-hour nap.
Ultimately this time of year can feel very pressured. Everyone wants to have the best time and make memories and share in each other’s company. When you’re pregnant, you may feel like the last thing you want to do is people please, and that’s absolutely fine. Putting yourself first and zooming out on the small stresses of the season can help you get the perspective you need to see that the holidays aren’t the be all and end all. Allow yourself to prioritize your happiness because a happy mum means a happy bump. And what could be more important than that?
If you’re pregnant why not sign up to our online antenatal course, HATCH, which is a convenient and supportive way to prepare for labour, birth and baby. It also makes a wonderful gift for an expectant mum to be!
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