There is nothing like the joyous holiday season. It truly is the most beautiful time of the year. It’s also the perfect time to pause, enjoy life, and enjoy being pregnant. Still, with so much to do, the holidays are often very stressful compared to daily life.
So, I’m sharing tips on how you can safely and comfortably enjoy your favorite holiday foods while pregnant during the holiday season:
Pregnant During The Holidays: Foods To Eat, Avoid, & A Few Wellness Tips
How To Enjoy The Holiday While Pregnant
Aim for a healthy balance in your diet.
Of course, maintaining a healthy diet is essential during pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself. Fill your plate with fun, flavorful, and colorful foods that make you feel good, and focus on spreading love, creating memories, and letting your mind relax. Whether it’s chocolate, cake, or Christmas cookies, remember, it is definitely okay to enjoy dessert during pregnancy. All foods can fit into a healthy diet for pregnancy and beyond. And, of course, keep filtered water around at all times to ensure you drink plenty of water.
Prioritize rest and sleep.
With so much going on and so many things to do during the holidays, it’s easy to forget to slow down and give yourself a break. Make rest and sleep a priority. If you need to, set aside time in your busy schedule for naps, even 30 minutes can help, or to read a book. The holidays are a special time to enjoy with those you love, but you should also enjoy some quiet time and focus on your mental health.
Focus on safety when traveling.
Safety is always important when traveling, but there are a few extra things to consider when you’re pregnant and planning on traveling during the holidays. The best time for pregnant women to travel is between 14 and 28 weeks, but it’s usually safe to travel until you’re 36 weeks. As you get close to your due date, you’ll want to plan on keeping close to home. Check with your doctor for specific directions for your pregnancy.
If you plan on flying over the holidays, make sure you take proper precautions for your comfort and safety. It’s generally recommended that pregnant women get up and walk around frequently to avoid leg cramps. Also, don’t forget that glass of water! Drink plenty of fluids as plane rides + traveling can be “dehydrating.”
If you are planning to travel a long distance, consider your health insurance coverage. It could be a good idea to look into travel insurance that includes medical coverage. Ideally, you won’t need it. But in case of an emergency, you’ll be glad you have it.
There are also unique safety tips when traveling shorter distances by car. It would be best if you buckled your seatbelt low on your hips, below your belly, then placed the shoulder strap between your breasts and off to the side of your stomach.
Ask loved ones for help.
During the holidays, it can feel like your list of things to do is never-ending. From buying gifts and wrapping them up to decorating your home and attending parties, the holidays are often the busiest time of the year. It’s important and most definitely okay to ask for help from a family member or friend. Even more so, if you’re fighting a daily battle with morning sickness, don’t hesitate to reach out to friends or family for help.
Wear comfortable clothes.
Fortunately, maternity clothes have come a long way over the years. With so many options, it’s possible to feel much more comfortable during the holidays. You can still slip into a gorgeous holiday dress or snuggle up in a Christmas sweater. Feel free to prioritize comfort when picking your outfits out this holiday season.
Holiday Foods To Avoid While Pregnant
Does your family like to serve homemade eggnog every year? The popular holiday drink is often spiked with rum or whiskey, but even if there isn’t any alcohol, you’ll want to be cautious with this drink. That’s because homemade eggnog is often made with raw eggs and thus presents a higher risk of salmonella bacteria.
If drinking eggnog is one of your favorite holiday traditions, opt for commercially-made eggnog sold in cartons. Choosing an alcohol-free and pasteurized option is key. It might not be as good as your uncle’s eggnog, but it’s safe since it’s made using pasteurized eggs.
Ham and turkey are popular choices for holiday meals. Christmas ham, anyone? These are both safe meat choices during pregnancy when cooked thoroughly. To be fully cooked, the meat must reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This is important to remember since eating undercooked meats + seafood exposes you to potentially harmful bacteria and parasites.
Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your foods, and eat them before the 2-hour mark of sitting out!
Unpasteurized Soft Cheese
Soft cheeses like feta, Camembert, Brie, and blue cheese, are popular holiday foods that CAN be safe options during pregnancy. Most store-bought cheese in the United States, including soft cheeses, is pasteurized and a-okay. If soft cheese comes from a farmer’s market or local health food store, you may need to ask to be sure it’s pasteurized first. Unpasteurized cheese carries a higher risk for contamination, but is not dangerous.
Go ahead and reach for the hard cheese too! Cheddar, Gouda, and other variations of hard cheese are fine to eat during pregnancy, as well as pasteurized soft cheese. More on cheese here.
Seafood is another popular holiday food. Raw seafood, such as raw oysters, should be avoided during pregnancy because they can harbor harmful bacteria. However, cooked oysters are fine to enjoy and a great source of nutrition during pregnancy.
Many other types of cooked seafood are also safe (and beneficial) for pregnancy. As long as you go for the low-mercury options like shrimp, lobster, wild salmon, and crab, you’re good to go.
Appetizers Left Sitting Out.
No holiday party is complete without a diverse food and drink selection. Putting together a charcuterie board like a piece of art is a popular way to serve various foods simultaneously.
Charcuterie boards and veggie trays can be safe during pregnancy, BUT being food-safe and food aware is key. Veggie trays and appetizers are notorious for being left out for however long the party goes. It’s safest to enjoy foods that have been out for less than 2 hours (ask the host how long everything has been out). Pre-made grocery store fruit and vegetables are often on the CDC food borne illness outbreak list.
Holiday Foods To Indulge While Pregnant
Nuts & Seeds
Feel free to dig into the bowl of nuts at your next holiday party. Nuts, especially walnuts, are great for expectant mothers because they provide omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, some protein, healthy fat, and plenty of minerals. Because the protein, fiber, and healthy fat combination are highly satiating, you don’t have to eat many of them to feel satisfied.
Cooked Vegetable Side Dishes
Green beans, roasted Brussels sprouts, asparagus, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes are just a few classic holiday side dishes. Filling your plate with these delicious sides provides you and your growing baby with a load of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. The extra fiber in vegetables like Brussels sprouts is great, too!
Dessert… In Moderation
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a treat now and then! If Christmas cookies are one of your favorites, you definitely don’t have to skip them just because you’re pregnant. There’s a good chance you’ll come across a mouthwatering array of sweets and desserts. You don’t have to feel obligated to skip the dessert table. Instead, practice moderation and allow yourself to enjoy each bite of the option you love the most.
How are you planning to make it through the holidays while pregnant?
Do you have a tip on how to enjoy the holidays while pregnant that you would like to share? I would love to hear how you want the most beautiful time of the year! If you are still determining if a particular food is safe for you and your baby, avoid the headache/stress/guilt and join, The Prenatal Nutrition Library. Our entire library, including our Pregnancy Holiday Eating Guide, will help you feel 100% confident in your food and healthy lifestyle choices for two this holiday season!