Thanksgiving, particularly after a year like the last one, is an important time to give thanks and enjoy family and friends. However, being pregnant during Thanksgiving can bring all sorts of stress and and even potentially illness to pregnant mums. So how do we enjoy Thanksgiving, see family, and avoid the pitfalls associated with large gatherings? Check out our list below to learn the top 5 ways to avoid illness and stress this Thanksgiving Holiday.
This coming weekend, many of us will be gathering with family and friends to enjoy the bounties of the season and give thanks. After a year filled with separation and isolation, we have much to be thankful for. Enjoying this time with family and friends is very important to maintaining our mental health. Humans (for the most part) are social creatures and crave regular social interaction. Yet, when we gather, there can be all sorts of risk that pregnant women have to contend with. Whether it is food concerns, illness or just holiday stress, everything seems more extreme when you are pregnant. So do we deal with the holidays, yet, protect ourselves.
We have identified the top 5 risks of pregnancy during Thanksgiving and how to avoid them to manage the risk.
- Undercooked Food. One of the biggest risks for a pregnant women, and in fact anyone, is undercooked food. This is especially risky during pregnancy because illnesses like salmonella can be especially dangerous to an expecting mother and her unborn child. Look for foods that look discolored, appear still raw, or a different consistency. Stuffing, traditionally cooked inside of the bird, can pose a threat for pregnant women as it has a higher chance of passing on food borne illness. So skip the stuffing, unless you can confirm it was cooked on a stove top.
- Food Borne Illness-one of the biggest things to look for is to watch for food borne illnesses. Certain foods are more likely than others to carry illness. Foods like Shellfish, certain cheeses and cold cuts are more likely to carry dangerous bacteria like Listeria, which can make pregnant women very ill. Soft cheeses are another food group that you have to have some caution with. Other items like lox, salmon and cold cuts can also carry significant amounts of bacteria. Some experts recommend heating them right before eating as one way to decrease the risk of exposure to certain bacteria. On a cold cut tray however, it is difficult to discern how long something has been sitting and or how it was prepared.
- Beverages– we all enjoy our beverages. We know during pregnancy we need to eliminate alcohols, but did you know that beverages such as apple ciders, eggnog and other drinks should be pasteurized before you drink them? When in doubt, bring something you know you can drink and share. Pregnancy doesn’t last forever, and there are many choices available on the market now, from non-alcoholic wines and sparkling ciders to yummy hot chocolates and other warm toasty drinks. On a side note, the other thing to watch in many of these drinks is the caffeine level. You want to minimize the amount of caffeine you are consuming to no more than the equivalent of 1-2 small coffees per day.
- Close & Cuddly– There is nothing like the holidays for seeing family and loved ones. However, it is in these close quarters that we can get sick. Whether it is COVID, the flu or a common cold, viruses spread faster in close quarters. So how do you avoid getting sick? Besides the typical washing hands and avoiding to touch your face, avoiding kissing, and not getting too close to others , are ways to avoid airborne illnesses. If you are really nervous about getting sick and want to see your family, just wear a mask.
- Managing Stress Levels– The holidays represent both a time of joy, but also can be a time of exceptional stress for most people. You have extra financial pressures, more to do and we place unrealistic expectations of perfection on ourselves. We have this idea that things have to be picture perfect. Let go of what you think should be and accept that when you are pregnant, you need to do less, in order to enjoy things more. Be present. Accept help, and offer to bring a side rather than the main course. There is no reason you have to do everything alone, nor are you responsible for everyone’s happiness. If you are hosting, pre-make some of the food, freeze and then thaw before the big day. Ask others to pitch in and help and give yourself permission to understand that not everything will be perfect and that is ok.
The holidays can be enjoyed and be a source of joy for us. As pregnant women, we just have to take a few more precautions and be organized. So go forth, see your family this holiday and be thankful for all we have and that we can all be together again this year.