It’s December, you’re pregnant and now the fun really starts as you get ready to face a host of festive hurdles
Given that Christmas is in honour of a woman going into labour, it’s ironic that yuletide celebrations are a minefield of things to avoid if you’re pregnant.
You can‘t enjoy the food or guzzle the drink at the office Christmas party. You can’t even accept aromatherapy bath oils as gifts, as some may harm your unborn child.
While it’s the season to be jolly for everyone else, if you’re pregnant, it’s mostly bah humbug.
On the bright side, it only comes round once a year and the next one will actually see you celebrating with your child, which is what Christmas is all about. For now the motto is: be prepared.
Here are several hazards you may have to face this yuletide, and some advice on how to get through the season from women who’ve survived it themselves…
“I was 11 weeks pregnant, feeling sick and had to go to a posh work Christmas dinner,” explained Rachel Green, 31, whose daughter, Mia, is now 4 months old.
“There were only eight people there, mostly execs, who didn‘t know that well. I accepted a glass of wine as I arrived, which I pretended to sip at regular intervals before taking it to the loo with me and throwing it down the sink. As we sat down to eat, I sneakily refilled it with sparkling water. I thought I was a genius.”
“I then had the food problem to tackle – just the smell of Brussels sprouts had me running to the loo! At the end of the meal we all stood up to toast the boss, I took a great big swig of what I thought was water, but I’d picked up the wrong glass and it was actually wine. So I spat it straight back into the glass in a really nasty fashion and let out a loud ‘euggghhhh!’ I tried to pretend it had gone down the wrong hole, but by this point I was clearly that weird anorexic in the corner who spits her wine back into the glass. All class!” said Rachel.
Being pregnant and in the first trimester is tough at this time of year. You’re not showing any signs of pregnancy yet and you may not want to share your news with anyone before the first scan.
All sorts of foods are banned; you’re feeling sick and falling over with exhaustion from 3pm onwards every day.
The truth is, in those awkward situations, everyone’s probably too drunk or self-conscious to care about what you’re drinking or trying not to eat. And in a few weeks, they’ll get the news anyway. If you can grin and bear it, top marks to you. If not, claim food poisoning before the event.
“Office Christmas parties are the worst when you’re pregnant. Everyone else looks gorgeous and weighs about 8½ stone but I was 8 months pregnant at one Christmas party and had splashed out on a brown stretchy, bias-cut dress which, until I saw the photos, I thought looked stunning on me,” says Anne Dawson, 38, mum to Luke, 7, Ben, 4, and Nancy 16 months.
“Later, I discovered I actually looked more like a giant Christmas pudding. As the night drew to a close I was herding the drunken size 8s into cabs like a mother hen. My advice is, carry a bottle of indigestion remedy in your handbag – it goes really well with the champagne – and never wear brown!” Anne recommends, when talking pregnancy party wear.
If it’s your first child, you tend to be more determined to carry on as normal, despite how self conscious you may feel about your pregnancy weight. By the second you’ll probably have realised that pregnancy is a time to be fantastically indulgent – let everyone else get on with it!
Plus, you get to gloat when you wake up without a hangover or the cold fear that you may have dragged your boss on to the floor to ballet-dance to Frankie Goes To Hollywood‘s The Power Of Love. If you do really have to go out, splash out on a fabulous maternity dress, don’t wear heels and enjoy playing ‘Who’s Going To Be The Most Sorry Tomorrow’ – knowing that it won‘t be you!
“I was heavily pregnant with twins and had one day to get all my Christmas shopping done.I recall waddling around, having to stop every 15 minutes to sit on steps for a rest. Then I burst into tears in a department store because I couldn’t find anywhere to get any food – you forget that if you don’t eat every hour, you start losing the plot!” recalls Andrea Peters, 38, mum to Ella and Grace, now 6.
“Miles, my husband, was so embarrassed, he had to run across the road and buy me a chocolate bar from the newsagents, while the girls on the make-up counter got me a chair and I just sat there weeping. I felt like a 3 year old.”
“Never attempt last-minute Christmas shopping when you’re pregnant. It’s such a strain, and I got paranoid that people were knocking into my bump. This is where the internet comes into its own. The only problem is that you have to do it all at least a month beforehand. I thought I was being really organised last year by doing it two weeks before – of course everything arrived in January. It was a disaster – I had to send my sister out to get a load of cheaper presents for the day, with IOUs attached!” advises Kate Ody, 32, mum to Tabitha, 6, Lily, 4, and Hettie, 13 months.
“Never try to cook Christmas dinner when you’re pregnant. I did dinner for eight on Christmas Day when I was 8 months pregnant and had a total sieve for brains. I just couldn‘t cope, so my husband and friends took over, while I sat there feeling like a failure, convinced I’d started to develop early Alzheimer’s,” says Gemma Jones, 35, mum to Alice, 14 months.
“With the way my sense of smell increases when I’m pregnant, there’s no way I’d be able to cook a roast,” says Alison Kubrick, 26, mum to Peter and Benjamin, now 2½. “My in-laws suggested that I do Christmas dinner when I was heavily pregnant with the twins and constantly being sick, just because I have a big kitchen. I said absolutely no way and they were quite peeved!”
There’s something about our pregnancy hormones that makes us want to turn into some kind of multi-tasking super-mum, even though our brains have generally turned to sap. This is the 21st century, girls. Men do the cooking now (and some even enjoy it!) – let’s embrace that!
“Kira was due on the 21st December so we were gearing up for the birth and just forgot about Christmas! I started to go into labour on the 23rd and was still having contractions on Christmas Day. We had no presents, no decorations and no food in the house. The advantage was that when we drove to the hospital, the roads were completely deserted,” said Mina Panic´, 36, whose daughter is now 11 months.
“The only time we saw any hint of Christmas that year was the big tree in King’s College Hospital reception, and the maternity nurse coming into the delivery room wiping Christmas pud from her chin! My husband, Carlos, was a bit put out, but I was relieved at not having to bother with Christmas for once!” Mina exclaimed.
If you’re due around the festive time, you’ve got the perfect excuse not to make any definite plans and just keep nice and toasty until the baby puts in an appearance. Being due at Christmas also has the advantage of avoiding sprouts-related sickness and Christmas meltdown, and should at least keep your other half sober right up to the delivery date.
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