Pregnant over the Holidays? Eating and Traveling Well!
The holidays bring up many feelings for most of us - and when we’re pregnant it’s doubly true. The holidays are about family, friends, old acquaintances and let’s face it - delicious food!
With that said, this is the time of year to reflect on the year, learn well from past experiences, and then wipe the slate clean and start thinking about that plate you will likely wipe clean over the holidays!
Whether you are visiting family and friends or cooking yourself, here’s a few tips for you and your gestating baby to stay healthy over the holidays.
Cooking: Be aware to not stand at the sink, counter, or stovetop for too long a time period. Put on a pair of compression stockings or knee-highs to keep the blood flowing through your legs. Every hour or so, sit down and elevate your feet for twenty minutes to help give your feet a rest and circulate your blood.
The holidays bring on ample opportunities to eat a lot of things you may not ordinarily eat. Our favorite holiday foods and desserts are usually rich in sugar, carbohydrates and additives. Be sure your plate has more than cake and cookies on it for desert. Add a fruit or some nuts (for protein) alongside that cookie or piece of cake (barring any nut allergies.)
If you are on a carbohydrate and sugar high - so is your baby. In my experience, it is typically during the holiday season that many women’s Hemoglobin A1C levels rise - which is an indicator for impending gestational diabetes. Research tells us these higher levels can also be an indicator for developing diabetes fifteen years down the road. So limit your carbs and sugars as the holiday season really stretches between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve. This two month window of sugar and carb overload can do real havoc on your blood sugar metabolism since metabolism slows down during pregnancy. You can also reduce acid-reflux and heartburn by steering clear of high processed foods.
Traveling: Holiday traveling can be stressful even when not pregnant. Wear comfortable shoes, loose clothing, carry and drink a lot of water and keep protein snacks in ziplock bags or travel containers so you can keep grazing throughout your trip (every two hours.) Bring vaseline or other ointment like Vicks to apply at your nostrils to keep out unwanted airplane bacteria. Use wipes for the armrests on airplanes, trains or buses, and also use on bathroom door and sink knobs. Wear compression stockings when sitting for long periods of time (health insurance should reimburse for this and you can get a prescription from your midwife or OB.) Whether you are driving or flying, get up every hour to pee and stretch. Do not forget to do your kegel muscle exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. Kegels can be done anywhere. Be sure your provider gives you a copy of your prenatal record in the event you do need to visit an emergency department.
High heels: If you are traveling, cooking, or walking around window shopping - please do not wear high heels. You might look sexy, but sexy is not smart while pregnant. The hormones shift your center, balance, and your alignment. If you trip or slip in your home or someone else’s, or your heel gets caught in a sidewalk crack - you risk problems for your yourself and your baby as falling is stressful and warrants a trip to the nearest emergency room for an ultrasound. The hospital is not where you want to be during the holidays or anytime of year if you can avoid it - especially if you are far from home.
Feelings: Between holiday festivities, increased pregnancy hormones, thinking about motherhood and how life will forever change - please be aware of your feelings. Be sure to talk with your partner and health care provider if you feel confused, anxious, depressed, skipping meals and snacks, or are not talking to your baby. Depression and anxiety can have an impact on your choices of what you put into your mouth, and other decisions that will impact your safely as well as your baby's.
The new year is approaching and so is the year of your new baby! Congratulations!
I hope you find this information useful.
What have been your food and traveling challenges?