The best things about the holidays can be spending time with family, celebrating the year that has passed and being generally festive.
If you're pregnant, the worst thing about the holidays may be getting all the questions you’ll likely get from close family members, or it may be the non-stop parade of social events and feeling endlessly exhausted. Although the holidays can be a time of joy, they can also be incredibly stressful for pregnant women.
That's why we've created this must-save survival guide to keeping your sanity during the holiday season. From managing stress to preparing for uncomfortable conversations about motherhood, here are a few tips on how to make it through the holidays with your mental health intact.
Hiding Your Pregnancy
If you're early in your pregnancy and aren't yet telling people yet about it, the endless holiday events can feel like a complete obstacle course. And we want to help. Here's some of our top tips on how you can keep your secret under wraps during this - extra social - time of year.
It's okay to say no
One of the most common early pregnancy symptoms is fatigue, so if that’s you, you're probably feeling exhausted all the time. Don't feel like you have to say yes to every single party and social invitation. It's totally okay to say no and rest.
Trust us, whatever you feel like you may be missing is worth it in exchange for rest. Your body will be thankful you did.
Avoiding alcoholic drinks
If you're not telling anyone yet about your pregnancy, you'll certainly be more mindful about your choice of beverage in hand at social events and parties. But if the thought of this causes you too much stress, we recommend volunteering to be the designated driver or letting people know you are taking time off of alcohol to focus on your health and wellness (not a full stray from the truth 😉). Alternatively, exploring mocktails can be super fun and tasty, while still helping you preserve your special secret. (Check out our blog here, where we have a lot of good ideas besides "oh, I'm not in the mood tonight").
Scoping out the menu
If there are particular foods that you're avoiding - whether it's because your pregnancy hormones have changed your taste buds or because it’s not recommended to have them in pregnancy - stick to foods that you know are safe.
What to wear
Choosing the right outfit can be a challenge. You don't want to look like you're trying too hard to hide something, but at the same time, you don't want to make it obvious that something is up. We recommend wearing dark, loose-fitting clothing (which are less likely to highlight your changing shape) and to avoid wearing anything that will keep you from feeling comfortable.
And lean towards layers! Pregnancy hormones can make your body temperature go through extreme ups and downs!
A weird phenomenon happens when you're pregnant. Once people know your new status, they have no problem asking you the most intrusive questions about your motherhood plans and more.
Not only are there a lot of questions, but there is a lot (and we mean A LOT) of unsolicited advice and opinions.
Plan on giving birth at home? You'll hear about all the dangers. Planning to get an epidural? Someone is going to tell you all their reasons why you should think otherwise. Have you found a midwife yet? What about a night nurse? What are your thoughts on induction? Get ready for a complete lecture on writing out your entire birth and postpartum plan.
And did we mention all this is happening when you're starving and so patiently waiting to eat - literally anything!
So how can you deal with all these heavy, opinionated and invasive questions without losing your temper?
In all likelihood, your Aunt Brenda isn't trying to be irritating. It's probably coming from a place of love and wanting the best for you. So try your best to shift your mindset when faced with these uncomfortable conversations.
Give a non-committal answer
Sometimes, your smug cousin or sister-in-law just wants to feel like an expert. Honestly, life is short. Let them have it. Say, "I'll have to keep that in mind," or "thanks for the tip," and switch the topic. They’ll feel heard, and you'll get to leave the conversation before anything gets too heated.
Take a break
If you've had your fill of awkward questions, bad advice or plain rudeness, excuse yourself to take a break. It's okay to do that, and pregnancy will give you the perfect excuse to do so.
Normalize setting boundaries
Just because people feel entitled to know everything about your pregnancy does not mean that they are. Don't be afraid to set boundaries and politely say that you don't feel like discussing a particular topic.
Dealing with body comments
Seriously, this is not okay. Why does being pregnant allow everyone to freely comment about your body's size and shape? This makes us SO mad.
The next time someone says, "wow, you're getting big" or “I can barely see your bump,” how do you respond? You can laugh it off or give a straight answer, like, "well, we all carry different. What matters more is that I feel great.”
Ugh, the belly touching. We get it. People just want to be part of your pregnancy journey, but still, it's weird. Especially if you are not typically a touchy person.
So what can you do? You can learn to block or grab and hold their hand as they reach out. You can make them feel awkward about it by returning the favour and rubbing and touching their belly. Or you can be straight up about it, "that makes me uncomfortable. Please don't do that."
Get your partner on board
Your best line of defense with awkward conversations and belly touching is having your partner back you up. It's important to have an ally who can help shut down these conversations or who can help you graciously turn them into lighter subjects.
Taking Care of Yourself During the Holidays
Even if you can dodge hiding your pregnancy or if you have a graciously polite and supportive family, the holidays can be really tiring and overwhelming for pregnant women.
So the best (and majorly important) thing you can do is take care of yourself. Get enough rest, pamper your body, stay hydrated and eat a diet as balanced as you can (yes, even during the holidays).
Also, try going for a walk after dinner or taking a nap before dessert. You should also set aside some time just for you - to do something that brings you joy. Remember, you're more than just your bump! Make time to reconnect with the woman that you are and whatever it is that makes you light up like a Christmas tree!
This holiday season may be different for you, but with a little extra planning, you can still enjoy yourself and make the most of this special time.