Discovering I was pregnant just a few days before Christmas meant radically scaling down all my drinking and socialising plans – not least of all because I felt so queasy! But just the thought that a year down the line we’d be celebrating as a little family made this last Christmas with my husband very special. So if you’re feeling despondent about not being able enjoy all the usual seasonal excesses, our ‘10 commandments’ will remind you of all the perks of being pregnant at this time of year, and help you make the most of the festive season.
1) I shall… always get a seat on the bus, the train or at the Christmas party.
As well as the extra slack people will cut you because you’re pregnant, a good dollop of Crimbo spirit should ensure you’re treated like a princess and get whatever you need! Taking the weight off your feet whenever you can should help you avoid swollen ankles (caused by fluid and the extra blood you produce during pregnancy pooling around your feet) and varicose veins (when blood collects in the veins, causing them to swell) – make the most of your ‘delicate condition’!
2) I shall not… be toiling round supermarkets with bags of potatoes, or end up with aching feet after shopping for pressies.
You should avoid lifting and carrying heavy bags during pregnancy as your ligaments soften, making you more susceptible to back injuries – always bend your knees, not your back, when picking anything up. Tiredness, too, is a common problem, so try to pace yourself. Shop online as much as you can and have someone else bring all your goodies to your front door!
3) I shall… spend the money I’m saving by not boozing on that special little treat I’ve been wanting all year.
Your bump is your best accessory this Christmas, so why not show it off to full advantage with a wonderful piece of jewellery, or that super-smart handbag you always longed for? Alternatively, for a quick, inexpensive pick-me-up, splash out on a new lipstick or nail varnish. For some serious and well-deserved pampering, meanwhile, you might want to book a pregnancy massage to soothe away your cares and help you focus on your body and your growing baby. It may seem a bit extravagant, but it’ll do you and your little one the world of good to take some time out to relax. And after all, you’ll never have a better excuse to treat yourself!
4) I shall not… share my glad tidings with the world, if I’m not ready to do so just yet.
Although part of me wanted to shout my happy news from the rooftops when I found out I was pregnant, because of a complicated medical history I didn’t want to tempt fate by telling everyone so soon. And if you don’t feel like sharing yet, you don’t have to. To keep your bump under wraps, line up your ‘alibis’ for passing on big nights out (if you can’t face them because of tiredness) and avoiding alcohol, and stick to them. My favourite excuses were food poisoning and not feeling up to drinking anything because I had overindulged the night before! You’ll then be free to enjoy any festivities, worry-free.
5) I shall… enjoy the crisp winter weather by bundling up my bump and enjoying getting out and about.
When the festive preparations get too much for you, take time out and do yourself and your baby good by taking some exercise. You’ll want to talk to your healthcare team first to ensure that what you’re doing is safe for you and your baby, but walking, swimming and pregnancy yoga are low impact and so should be fine during your nine months. Gentle exercise is great for enhancing your sleep and giving you a more positive self-image, while regular exercise should also give you more stamina to cope with labour and help you to regain your pre-pregnancy shape more quickly after the birth. Just knowing that you’re doing the best you can for you and your baby should boost your festive spirit. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and enjoy those crisp winter mornings!
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6) I shall not… have a hideous hangover when I wake up on Christmas Day, so this year I can enjoy it to the max.
According to Mr Gurminda Matharu, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and spokesperson for the Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians (RCOG), pregnant women are currently advised to abstain from alcohol completely as it can harm your baby’s development. So why not try orange juice mixed with lemonade or a fruity punch (apple and orange juice blended together with a pinch of ginger) instead – you’ll be laughing when you’re the only one who’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next day!
7) I shall… make sure my partner and I have a really special time together – after all, this is the last Christmas when it’ll be just the two of us.
Much as you probably can’t wait to welcome your new arrival into the world, relationships therapist Denise Knowles believes it’s important to make the most of the time you and your partner have before the birth. Spare some time to do the simple things you both like, such as going for a walk, a trip to the theatre or simply watching a DVD. If your finances permit, why not surprise your partner with a memorable night away during the festive season? A perfect Christmas present…
8) I shall not… get stressed out.
Don’t forget, it’s meant to be a holiday! And you’ve got more reason than most to sit back and relax. Unwind with a DVD, or just enjoy a magazine guilt-free. Train yourself to accept any offers of help, too – this will get you into good habits for when your baby arrives! Let someone else peel the sprouts, tidy up or wrap up the presents. If you can, keep Christmas simple this year and spend it with a few loved ones who’ll do what they can to help, and try to avoid any stressful family conflicts.
9) I shall… enjoy Christmas dinner, but take some extra care over what I eat.
Tuck in to thoroughly-cooked turkey (low in fat and rich in protein), as well as all that festive fruit and veg (essential for vitamins and preventing constipation). Mince pies and Christmas pud are also fine, but avoid unpasteurised, blue or mould-ripened cheeses, cured meats and all pâtés, which could contain listeria (a type of bacteria). Also steer clear of anything containing uncooked egg (some homemade icing, meringues, mousses and ice cream) because of the risk of salmonella poisoning, which could be dangerous for your baby.
10) I shall… take time out to bond with my bump.
Christmas is an extra special time when you’re pregnant. Spend time getting to know your new baby by talking to him, and let him join in the festive spirit by listening to some Christmas carols together. Helen Savill, specialist in natural approaches to women’s health at Oeuf (www.oeuf.org.uk), suggests massaging your bump with body lotion or carrier oil with a drop of orange, camomile or lavender oil (safe after the first trimester).