Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many different people for, many different reasons. Pregnant people are some of those who may struggle with the holidays a little more than others. There are so many ways you should make sure to take extra care of yourself around Christmas.
That’s why we have put together a little list of what we think is best to avoid around the holidays.
Cheese and dairy at Christmas
In terms of dairy intake if you are pregnant it is less about how much and more about the type.
Dairy is a great choice when you are pregnant as it is an excellent source of calcium which will help with the development of bones.
Despite this, there are definitely some dairy products you should avoid and we all know how much cheese is brought out for Christmas.
Any milk you have during your pregnancy should be pasteurised or ultra-heat-treated (UHT) milk. This means that you will not have to worry at all about bacteria causing any kind of food poisoning.
Cheeses to avoid:
- Any type of mould-ripened soft cheese such as Camembert, brie or danish blue. They could contain listeria bacteria which can be harmful to your baby.
- Chevre, a mould-ripened goat’s cheese.
Both of these however can be eaten if they have been cooked properly (for soft cheese this means until piping hot). This means you can still eat goat’s cheese tart and other meals.
Cheeses you can eat:
- Hard cheeses like cheddar, emmental and edam, even if they are made with unpasteurised milk.
- All types of soft cheese that are not mould-ripened (such as feta, mozzarella and cottage cheese) are fine to eat as long as they have been made from pasteurised milk.
- Any type of goat’s cheese that does not have a white rind.
Do not drink
We all know that for a lot of us, alcohol has its own part to play at Christmas. Unfortunately, this is one thing you will just have to cope without.
In all honesty, no matter what you hear, doctors are not completely sure if any alcohol is safe to have while a person is pregnant. Although a glass might be ok, it really is best to just avoid it altogether.
For some giving up alcohol is easy and for others, not so much. Luckily for us, there is an amazing variety of non-alcoholic versions of pretty much everything nowadays.
A couple of great options are mulled apple juice or non-alcoholic fizz. You could even try drinking a soft drink from a cocktail glass, or something similar, it will help to put you in a celebratory mood.
You’ll likely still notice your sobriety compared to others around you but you’ll not mind it so much once the morning comes and they’re all complaining of headaches.
You should be really careful with cold-cured meats like prosciutto, chorizo and salami. These are not safe. The risk associated with this is getting toxoplasmosis as they could contain parasites that cause it.
If you are someone who loves uncooked cured meats though there is a way to reduce this risk. If you freeze they 3-4 days before you intend to eat them it should kill most of the parasites. This makes it safer to eat.
You can, however, eat pre-packaged cooked meats like ham. These are safe to eat when you are pregnant. So although they are not the same it could be worth trying to use cooked meats to substitute uncooked or col cured meats when you can.
Do not eat pâté when you are pregnant. Not even vegetarian pâté.
Pâté could contain listeria bacteria. It also frequently contains liver which contains high levels of vitamin A and should therefore also be avoided.
Too much vitamin A can actually be bad for the development of the nervous system.
Christmas is always a time when there is chocolate as far as the eye can see. Having some chocolate is absolutely fine but something we often forget is that chocolate contains caffeine.
This means that you should keep an eye on your intake of chocolate alongside any type of caffeinated drinks you may be having.
The recommendation is that you not have more than 200 mg a day of caffeine.
It will require a little bit of maths but the following list should help you out with that.
You can have caffeine, but no more than 200mg per day.
- 100mg in a mug of instant coffee.
- 140mg in a mug of filter coffee.
- 75mg in a mug of tea (check out the lovely tea bags in our mothers day vegan hamper giveaway).
- 40mg in a can of cola.
- 80mg in a 250ml can of energy drink.
- less than 25mg in a 50g bar of plain dark chocolate.
- less than 10mg in a 50g bar of plain milk chocolate.
While this is important it is not going to cause a huge risk to the baby should you accidentally exceed this. Do your best to stick to under 200mg and you and your baby will be absolutely fine.
Be careful. The desire on Christmas day especially is to eat and eat and eat. We all have to be wary of this.
Pregnant people, however, should be extra careful as eating too much can cause the already common pregnancy issue of heartburn and indigestion.
Though heartburn and indigestion are not particularly harmful, they are uncomfortable and might stop you from enjoying yourself.
Stress is a big one.
This might require a little more planning. It can be hard sometimes for us to admit we need help never mind ask for it. Over the holidays though it is especially important that you do so.
If you are the friend of someone who is pregnant make sure to offer that help. Some people really are reluctant to ask for it. You could even get them a little gift, just to remind them you are there for them if they need it.
Christmas is often a stressful time but when you are pregnant this can cause other issues so it is best to avoid it as much as you can.
Excessive stress could cause you to have a baby who is pre-term or who has a low birth weight. Although these are unlikely you should still mitigate stress as much as you can.
Remember to say no
Normally you might be super sociable but pregnancy can be exhausting sometimes and it is really vital that you take time for yourself. A party that would usually sound exciting might appear dreadful at the moment and that’s alright.
Don’t feel guilty!
There are other ways you can celebrate with your friends and family and get into the festive spirit. You can choose less energetic activities such as watching Christmas films together or just going out to a cafe.
Be kind to yourself
This time of year can be difficult for a lot of reasons and this can really end up being amplified by pregnancy. It can be emotional anyway so do not be hard on yourself if you are struggling or are not feeling as festive as usual.
Do some research so that you feel confident in looking after yourself while you are pregnant and find out what you need whilst you are pregnant.
If you do feel that you are particularly struggling reach out to those around you and maybe even a doctor but don’t go it alone, let people help you too.
After all of this, you may wonder what a good gift for a pregnant person might be. We have so many options for great presents for your pregnant friends and family members or even for yourself.