This month, millions of people will be gathering together to celebrate the season with family and friends. If you're pregnant for the first time during this time of year, you may experience the gatherings differently. You may feel a little like you're missing out if you can't toast with a glass of wine like everyone else; or you may absolutely love the fact that you have a legitimate excuse to take a nap after dinner.
If you're hoping your holiday gathering looks less like National Lampoon's and more like Norman Rockwell.... well, we can't help much with that, but we can give you tips to feel more comfortable and accommodate your pregnancy changes.
On... Food & Drinks
Hydrate - It's easy to forget to drink when you're at a holiday party, running around from person to person, or toiling away in the kitchen over a hot stove, but it's also one of the most important things you can do to feel good. Keep your glass full of water, sparkling water, or otherwise hydrating beverage.
Make your own mocktail - If drinking has always been part of your holiday merriment, it can feel disappointing to have to sit this one out. It can help to fake it by making a non-alcoholic version of your favorite drink. Sparkling water and lime juice = pregnancy friendly margarita? Why not!
Bring nausea-friendly snacks - If you're dealing with morning sickness, bring with you your favorite go-to snacks that sit easier on the stomach than the typical holiday fare.
Eat light and often - If you're in the third trimester, you'll find that you feel full much quicker than usual. Keep this in mind as you fill your holiday plate. Even though there may be some of your favorite foods, you'll be much more comfortable when you eat smaller portions with breaks in between.
Take precaution with certain foods - It's easy to get carried away with the "don't eat this" list of pregnancy no-nos, but it's more practical to heed warnings over the biggest offenders. In general, in order to reduce your risk of contracting food-borne illnesses like listeria, E.coli, and salmonella, it's best to avoid unpasteurized cheese/milk, poorly cooked hot dogs, foods with raw eggs (eggnog and cookie dough, for example), uncooked vegetables (particularly sprouts), and under-cooked poultry and pork. Also, avoid foods that have been left out for more than two hours -- a common practice during holiday events -- as bacteria quickly develops on unrefrigerated foods.
On... Nosey Nellies
A growing bump and a family gathering prompts lots of questions, advice, suggestions, and birthing war stories. You do NOT need to participate. Let me repeat that more clearly: you are not obligated to answer any questions, provide any explanations, or listen to anything that causes fear or upset. If you begin to feel uncomfortable with a conversation that's taken a left turn, find a reason to end it and excuse yourself, or change the topic.
Another fun holiday pregnancy encounter is the feeling of the belly. Some people are a-ok with this! And others are not. And maybe you fall into the category of, "it's ok for my aunts to touch, but the weird Uncle Frank better keep his mitts off." Either way, your belly, your body -- and your permission is needed. You are not obliged to allow anyone to rub your belly anymore than you would be obliged to let them rub your butt (puts it into perspective, amiright?).
On... Getting the Heck Out
You may need a break from the party this year -- and that's ok. It doesn't mean you have to miss out, but maybe you'd do better to leave early, escape for a nap, or take on a different role (for example, less cooking if you're feeling overly nauseous). The holiday gathering is the perfect time to "pull the pregnancy card" for just about anything -- especially a break.