Stress, Pregnancy, and the Holidays -- Advice from the Experts

coffee.jpgWe are in the throes of the holiday season, and along with the joy and merriment often comes stress and exhaustion. This is especially true if you are pregnant this holiday season. Our friends over at MotherToBaby, the experts in teratology (the study of how medicinal and environmental exposures can affect pregnancy), have crafted on-point expert advice specifically for expectant parents during the holiday season. We're going to share some of the best tips along with our own commentary below, and you can read the complete article on the MotherToBaby blog. 

How to avoid becoming too stressed

  • How you breathe is important! Be sure to take deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, and relax.
  • Realize you are not alone. Most pregnant women and women in general are feeling the same way you are. Talk to others; it will help reduce your feelings of stress.
  • Take a nap! Escape and take a quick cat nap when you are really stressed and tired.
  • Light to moderate non-impact exercise is great too. Try walking, swimming or yoga.

GBWC (Giving Birth with Confidence) says: This is great advice for any time of the year, during pregnancy and before and after pregnancy! It's easy to get caught up in the hustle of this season of life, but it's critical to be purposeful about taking time out and finding ways to relax.  

How to avoid becoming too fatigued

  • Don’t be afraid to admit you are too tired to do some things. You cannot (and should not) be super woman during the holidays! Just say “no”.
  • Sleep, sleep, sleep! Try to get about eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Have that morning cup of coffee or tea. Studies have shown that limited amounts of caffeine, 200-300 mg a day, have not been associated with any known increased risks for baby.

GBWC says: Knowing your body's limits and listening to your body's needs is important in pregnancy, and also is a great way to prepare for coping in labor and birth. Another tip for helping combat fatigue is to call on help from your support network -- friends, family, neighbors. If there's anything you can outsource so that you can move it off your plate and take a much-needed nap, do it!

How to avoid drinking alcohol

  • Don’t be tempted to drink alcohol, as alcohol is known to be harmful for baby. Bring your own non-alcoholic beer or wine with you to the party.
  • Want something bubbly to drink on New Year’s Eve? Try a delicious non-alcoholic sparkling juice or cider.
  • Make sure there is no alcohol in the drinks or desserts that your host/hostess is serving at the party. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

GBWC says: Abstaining from alcohol during pregnancy can feel like you're being left out of the fun, but keep in mind that it's only temporary, it's for a great reason (your body is doing important work!), and unlike other party-goers, you will likely wake up feeling great the next morning!

How to avoid complications from overeating, such as gas and constipation

  • Eat more often, but eat smaller portions. With a baby on board, you do not have as much room in your tummy as you used to!
  • When needed for gas, it is okay to take over-the-counter products such as Gas-X®.
  • To avoid constipation, drink lots of fluids and eat foods high in fiber, such as apples and broccoli. If constipation continues to be a problem, use commercial stool softeners as needed.

GBWC says: Oh the woes of gas, heartburn, and constipation. Unfortunately these are common byproducts of pregnancy, but there are many remedies and tips for prevention -- try a range to see what works best for you!

Safe over-the-counter cold and flu medicines for illness

  • Look for products that contain acetaminophen, while avoiding products that contain ibuprofen or aspirin.
  • If you have high blood pressure, try to avoid using products that contain pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine, which can slightly narrow the blood vessels and increase blood pressure. Consistent use of decongestants is not recommended during pregnancy for anyone.
  • You can use over-the-counter cough medications such as Mucinex® and Robitussin®, without any known increased pregnancy risks.
  • And you know what they say about an ounce of prevention…! Get a flu shot!
    • In the United States the flu shot has been given to pregnant women since the 1960s. Studies of thousands of women who have received the flu shot just before or during pregnancy have found no increased risk for birth defects or other problems.
    • The flu vaccine given by injection is recommended for all women planning to become pregnant or who already are pregnant (whether in their first, second, or third trimester) during the flu season.

GBWC says: MotherToBaby encourages getting a flu shot for prevention of flu illness during pregnancy. This is a decision that may not be right for everyone, and we encourage you to research and consult with your care providers to learn more and make an informed decision. 

For more specific information on exposures during pregnancy from MotherToBaby, you can call, email, or live chat with a MotherToBaby expert. In fact, you can quickly and easily text 855-999-3525 with your question! 

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