Christmas is a wonderful time of celebration. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we sing carols at carol services, we attend Christmas church services, we meet with family, friends and neighbours, we chare meals and drinks, we exchange gifts, and many take a holiday break.
It is time when pregnant women are nervous as they don’t want to do anything that could adversely affect their pregnancy. It is common question I am asked.
Gathering with others
There sadly is the risk of becoming infected with the COVID virus is still with us. To help minimise this risk make sure you are fully COVID vaccinated, practice social distancing when out and about, avoid interacting with adults or children who are unwell (even if they say they are COVID negative), minimise kissing and hugging, try to celebrate Christmas outdoors. Fortunately, Australia has a good climate in December which lends itself to an outdoor family meal to celebrate Christmas.
Most pregnant women stop drinking alcoholic drinks when pregnant. There is a lot of media advice about this, including Government sponsored ads. But there is no medical evidence that the occasional alcoholic drink will harm your baby, so what you are seeing is an overreaction.
I suspect you will play it safe and decide not to drink alcohol. But this does not mean you can’t have pleasant non-alcoholic drinks. There are many non-alcoholic drink options including mocktail recipes so you can have enjoyable drinks without anxiety.
If you normally drink alcohol, are in early pregnancy and haven’t told people you are gathering with that you are pregnant it can be tricky. If you change your drinking habit and have a non-alcoholic drink expect the question: “Are you pregnant?”. Women are very finely tuned about this topic. So, think of a reasonable answer to the question before you meet with others.
What to eat
This is a common question. The main concerns are about eating ham, soft cheese, and seafood (not including fish). That is because there is increased risk of food poisoning. There are usually plenty of other options to eat so most pregnant women play it safe and avoid foods that could have potentially have an adverse impact on themselves and their pregnancies.
Again, if you normally eat these foods, are in early pregnancy and haven’t told people you are gathering with that you are pregnant it can be tricky. If you change your eating habits expect the question: “Are you pregnant?”. Women are very finely tuned about this topic. So, think of a reasonable answer to the question before you meet with others.
The risk of food poisoning is not confined to the above food groups. You can get food poisoning with any food if there is not appropriate attention to food preparation and presentation. There should not be food handling food by anyone who is unwell, all food used should be fresh and within the use‐by date and look for signs of potentially unsafe food. Keep food in the refrigerator in closed containers or covered with plastic wrap to reduce the risk of cross contamination. Use clean equipment, rather than hands, to pick up food. Wash fruit and vegetables to be eaten raw under running water, cook food thoroughly, especially minced meat, burger patties, sausages, rolled roasts, stuffed meats, rabbit, poultry and eggs. Eat any leftovers within two days, reheat leftovers till they are steaming hot.
Make sure hot foods are hot (above 60°C). Keep food at 60oC or above until served. Refrigerate or freeze food that is to be prepared well in advance and reheat to steaming hot before serving. Cook or reheat packaged food according to any directions on the label.
Eat little and often
Usually, women in advanced pregnancy feel full quicker than usual as the stomach is squashed by the enlarging uterus. Have smaller meals. That way you’ll be able to enjoy festive food more and lessen the likelihood of indigestion or heartburn. You may also find that some of the richer foods associated with Christmas, such as mince pies and Christmas pudding, make indigestion worse.
Try not to get stressed or too tired
Christmas is always a hectic time. There are presents to buy and wrap, children waking very early, lots of people to catch up with often in multiple locations.
Being tired in pregnancy is a common problem. This is worse at this time of the year.
Try to plan ahead as much as possible and be organised. Get others to help. Lower your expectations. It doesn’t matter if you don’t buy the perfect gifts this year. Don’t put yourself under pressure to rush around at work or at home.
Take regular breaks if you can. Put your feet up, have a nap, read a book, have some screen time or watch some streaming.
We have done that this year and so have not been to the shops to buy Christmas presents. You can still do it and have delivery before Christmas.
Let others help
Let someone else do the cooking, set the table, vacuum, load the dishwasher, if they offer to help. Try to have Christmas lunch and/or dinner at someone else’s place. If you have visitors at Christmas, make sure they do their share. You may find it hard to ask for or accept help but do try.
It is ok unless advised otherwise to travel interstate or to the country up to 36-week pregnancy. You will need a travel certificate of flying after 28 weeks. Travel in the Sydney area is ok until you are due unless advised. Labour usually lasts hours and so there should be enough time to get to the hospital. But if you suspect labour is imminent stay close to home.