Pregnant women need to be extra cautious during the holidays

Pregnant women need to be extra cautious during the holidays

Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the first day of winter or simply the last day of 2017, one thing is certain: December is filled with festivities, parties, travel, and events. While immensely fun and joyful, the month can also be hectic, leading to feelings of exhaustion and stress — particularly if you are an expectant mother trying to incorporate optimum health activities and nutrition into a daily routine.

Already in need of more sleep, moms-to-be require additional rest breaks as they juggle extra time with family, friends and colleagues during the holidays. Studies show that a lack of rest can slow down an expectant mom’s metabolism, making her more likely to eat carbs, and less likely to exercise. Additional studies show an increase in the need for pregnant women to de-stress during December, due in part to the increase in unsolicited baby and motherhood advice received at holiday get-togethers. Expectant moms must remember that most unsolicited advice (even when too much or involving choices they’d never consider) is given with good intent and out of love. To lessen the stress of receiving too much during the holidays, an acknowledging response may help: “Thank you! We appreciate your care about our baby. We will be sure to ask our care team about that advice at our next appointment.”

Other ways for mom to keep baby and herself healthy during the holidays:

EAT AND DRINK

Always keep water and a snack nearby. Cooler temperatures and running around during the holidays often causes pregnant women to feel dehydrated, hungrier and faint. It is critical for them to always have within their reach two things: water and a protein- or iron-rich snack such as peanut butter or cheese slices. Studies show an increase in water intake during pregnancy helps to avoid headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and cramping. The Institute of Medicine suggests pregnant women in temperate climates drink 12 or 13 8-ounce glasses of water daily.

During the holidays, there is an increased temptation for expectant moms to consume sugary drinks. They should not. A healthy substitute for sugary drinks is the occasional addition of a fruit infusion. When moms-to-be carry a reusable water bottle their cost of water decreases, and this also helps the environment.

TIME FOR SELF-CARE

Schedule a “self” hour each day. Expectant moms should never worry about having to say no to a holiday activity or invitation, and they should not feel bad for wanting to de-stress for an hour each day. In fact, expectant moms are encouraged to channel their nursery- and birth-planning skills toward their own well-being during the holidays. This could be doing something as simple as leaving the office to sit at a restaurant and eat, taking a nap or a warm bath, getting a prenatal massage, or going to a yoga class to relieve aches and pains. Some health-care practitioners encourage expectant mothers to do at least five minutes of meditation each day, not only during the holidays but throughout their entire pregnancy.

NUTRITION MATTERS

Remember to eat breakfast. Expectant moms should never skip a nutritious breakfast to “save their appetite” for holiday dinners and parties. Binging at holiday dinners and parties will spike insulin level, increase fat storage, and send extra glucose to the baby.

Fill up on the right nutrients. When expecting during the holidays it is important to fill up on the right foods with the best nutrients; balancing heavy holiday meals with well-rounded dishes that support health and keep blood sugar levels under control. Pregnant women should not restrict themselves from enjoying their favorite holiday foods, but it is highly recommended they consume them in smaller portions. The holiday plate of expectant moms should have plenty of vegetables and protein-filled foods. (Pregnant women should aim for at least 60 grams of protein daily.)

Healthy holiday eating tips for pregnant women include substituting fresh fruit for candy and eating the traditional favorite of roasted turkey without the skin (saving 11 grams of saturated fat per 3-ounce serving). A natural low-calorie substitute for holiday eggnog is made by pureeing bananas, skim milk, plain nonfat yogurt, rum extract and ground nutmeg.

Know recommended pregnancy weight gain. This will vary based on an expectant mom’s BMI, trimester of pregnancy, and discussion with healthcare provider. A woman who was average weight before getting pregnant will generally gain 25 to 35 pounds during her pregnancy.

HEALTH PRECAUTIONS

Check with your health-care provider before holiday traveling. Some pregnant women are more prone to blood clots, which may occur on long trips. It is always advised for traveling moms-to-be to walk around every hour or so to keep blood flowing normally.

Reduce risk for seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus. Expectant moms are always advised to wash their hands frequently and to avoid contact with sick people and crowded settings. It is critical to remember this during the holiday season. Pregnant and postpartum women are at higher risk for severe illness and complications from influenza than women who are not pregnant thanks to changes in the immune system, lungs, and heart during pregnancy.

Ongoing Centers for Disease Control research concludes that the influenza vaccination can be administered at any time during pregnancy, before and during the influenza season, and that no evidence exists of risk to baby from vaccinating pregnant women with inactivated virus or bacterial vaccines or toxoids. The CDC also recommends getting a dose of tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) during each pregnancy.

GET PHYSICAL

Move body and exercise with health-care provider approval. Studies show increasing energy output each day, counteracts the sweet cravings many pregnant women get year-round, including the holiday season. The truth is, physical activity during pregnancy improves and maintains fitness, helps with weight management, and reduces the risk of gestational diabetes. Expectant moms should always check with their healthcare provider for exercise approval.

It is recommended that pregnant women get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. The 150 minutes can be divided into 30-minute workouts on five days of the week or into smaller 10-minute workouts each day. Increasing energy output comes in many forms, including walking, jogging, biking, rowing machine, elliptical machine, and swimming. Those new to exercise should start out slowly and gradually increase activity; those active before can do the same workouts with approval by their health-care provider.

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