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Pregnant at Christmas time

 
 
Just because you're pregnant, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on all the Christmas fun. Follow these top 10 tips to help you relax and enjoy the festive season - you deserve it!
 
  
1. Enjoy your food 
  • Turkey is safe and and nutritious but check that it's thawed properly before you cook it, and that it's cooked through, to avoid the risk of salmonella infection and toxoplasmosis. Have plenty of vegetables - they're full of fibre, a great antidote for all that rich food which can make you constipated.
  • Tuck into Christmas pudding - it's only peanuts that you need to avoid if you or your partner has a family history of eczema or asthma.
  • Shop-bought Christmas cake is fine, but if it's homemade check whether the icing contains raw eggs.
  • Avoid home-made ice cream, mousses and meringues, as these contain raw or under-cooked eggs, which harbour salmonella bacteria. Do not leave creamy puddings out of the fridge for long.
  • When the cheeseboard comes out, take extra care as you need to avoid any unpasteurised, mould-ripened or blue-veined cheeses, which can harbour listeria. Give all types of pate a miss as they can contain listeria too.
  • Buy pre-packed and date-stamped cold meats to be on the safe side.
 

2. No-stress Noel!
 
It's easy to get carried away in the whirlwind of pre-Christmas preparations and end up stressed out. This isn't good for you or your baby. Researchers at the University of Utrecht found that mothers who were stressed in pregnancy had babies whose motor and mental skills developed more slowly during the first year after birth than those born to more relaxed mums. Enlist as much help as you can with shopping to avoid getting stressed by the crowds, doing as much as you can by mail order. And if you can, keep Christmas simple this year and spend it with a few loved ones who'll do what they can to help - avoid stressful family conflicts.
 
 
3. Put your feet up
 
Standing around at parties and Christmas shopping can cause swollen ankles (oedema) as fluid and the extra blood you produce in pregnancy pools around your feet. Your uterus puts pressure on the veins in your pelvis and slows down the circulation, causing the blood to pool. You may also retain extra water in pregnancy, which adds to the swelling. Sit down and take breaks when you're shopping, and at parties ask for a seat. Wearing support tights will help to boost the blood circulation in your legs to prevent swelling, and also helps if you have varicose veins. Put your feet up each day. Lie back and raise your legs so they're higher than your chest to allow good drainage of blood from your ankles and feet. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid salty foods to help prevent water retention. Swelling is one symptom of pre-eclampsia, so if it continues or is severe see your midwife.
 

4. Mind your back!
 
During pregnancy all your ligaments soften in preparation for labour, and it's easy to injure your back if you're not careful. Have heavy shopping delivered or get your partner to carry it in from the car, and if you do have to lift anything, remember to hold the load close to your chest and bend your knees, not your back as you pick it up. And balancing on a chair to stick that tinsel in the corner isn't a good idea either as your bump alters your sense of gravity.
 
 
5. Avoid heartburn
 
A burning pain in your chest after eating is likely to be heartburn, which is more common in pregnancy because the muscular valve at the entrance to the stomach relaxes, allowing stomach acid to seep up into the food pipe. In addition, your growing baby and uterus press on your stomach which also forces acid back up into the food pipe. Don't eat big meals just before bedtime and avoid rich, fatty foods, spicy dishes, chocolate and citrus fruit.
 
 
6. Don't over-do it
 
Christmas can be an exhausting time even when you're not pregnant, with lots of late nights, endless shopping and cooking. Go easy on yourself this year and keep the late nights to a minimum, allowing yourself the luxury of a lie-in to catch up on sleep. Pregnancy puts a strain on your body because it's having to work much harder to support your growing baby, and feeling more tired than usual is normal and your body's way of telling you it needs more rest.
 
 
6. Alcohol watch
 
Heavy or binge drinking during pregnancy can harm your baby's development, resulting in low birthweight and behavioural problems, as whatever you drink will be passed on to your baby via your bloodstream and the placenta, so be sensible. While some experts advise no alcohol at all in pregnancy, most agree that a couple of drinks over the course of a week won't do any harm, so you can enjoy a glass of champagne in Christmas day.
 
 
7. Be good to yourself
 
If family and friends ask what they can buy you this year, suggest some pampering treats such as soothing bath oils, body lotions or a voucher for a massage. Having a massage is a great way to relieve backache as well as stress and helps you to relax and focus on yourself and your growing baby. Aromatherapists advise you avoid essential oils before 12 weeks, and after that safe oils include orange, lemon and grapefruit (for energy boost), ylang ylang and sandalwood (to help relaxation). If in doubt, buy a special pregnancy blend. Alternatively, add 2-3 drops of one or two of the above oils to a warm bath, lie back and relax.
 
 
8. Talk to your baby
 
Christmas is an extra special time when you're pregnant and you'll find yourself focusing more on your growing baby. You can enhance that feeling of closeness by talking to your baby and letting him join in the festive spirit by listening to some Christmas carols together. From around 20 weeks your baby's hearing is well developed and he can respond to sounds from outside the womb, especially music. From 24 weeks is a time of rapid brain development, and some experts believe you can stimulate brain development by playing music and talking to your baby in the womb.
 
 
9. Take time out for exercise
 
When the festive season gets too much for you, take time out and do yourself and yourr baby good by taking some exercise. Many studies have shown that moderate exercise throughout pregnancy is beneficial. A recent study found that women who exercised throughout pregnancy were less likely to have low birth weight babies, while another study found it may even reduce the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect. It'll also give you more stamina to cope with the labour and help you to regain your pre-pregnancy body more quickly afterwards. Walking, swimming and pregnancy yoga are the safest forms of exercise to take.
 
 
10. Trimester tips
 
First trimester: If you're feeling nauseous, get someone else to do the cooking and eat bland snacks such as crackers or toast to stop sudden dips in blood sugar, which make you feel sick.

Second trimester: Take advantage of the "blooming" stage of pregnancy and show off your bump in some gorgeous maternity party clothes. Treat yourself to something sexy and stretchy that will last until the end of your pregnancy.

Third trimester: Big meals will give you indigestion and make you feel uncomfortable, so eat little and often instead.  
 
 
 
 



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