Ah Christmas. The most magical time of the year. No doubt you haven’t forgotten about its imminent arrival. After all, mince pies have been proudly displayed in the supermarkets since September.
And if you have kids, I’m sure you received their
demands present wish list last Boxing Day. Or by February at the latest. Yep, it sure creeps up on you.
Unbeknownst to many, there are actually two kinds of Christmases. Christmas and pregnant Christmas.
Q. Who hides in the bakery at Christmas?
A. A mince spy.
The mere thought of yuletide festivities when pregnant can seem about as much fun as that joke. Or it will send you out on a hunt for new hiding places for yourself, (top tip: kids worldwide are on to the bathroom thing).
Don’t let the season get the better of you though. You can still don your paper crown and put your feet up. Here are the best ways to handle the festive expectations while you’re expecting. But maybe invest in a lock for your bedroom door, just in case.
Preparation is Key
In an ideal world you’ll have been pinning Christmas ideas since August. You’ve planned the menu and wrapped the presents. You’ve pre-prepared everything that can be pre-prepared – along with some stuff that can’t. You’ve got a flowing, sparkly maternity dress and a Stepford smile. You look like you’ve stepped straight off the cover of December’s ‘Mother & Baby’ mag.
But, if you’re anything like me, you’ve taken a cavalier ‘it’ll be alright’ approach. Meaning you may leave most (possibly all) of your planning and prep until Christmas Eve.
Meanwhile, the family congregates and you feel like you’re descending to the fifth circle.
I strongly recommend avoiding my approach.
Instead, get just a few ducks in order – or your turkey at least. As tedious as Christmas menu planning might seem, there’s much to be said for planning in advance. Waddling around your kitchen avoiding bump hazards is annoying at the best of times. You’ll feel much less pressure on the day if you decide in advance:
- What your main dish will be
- How many sides you will serve with it
- What desserts you’re having
- How you can get away with doing as little as possible.
Delegate Like a Pro
There’s no need to put too much pressure on yourself – you’re only a Grinch if you steal Christmas, not merely simplify it. Consider cutting back on the amount of sides you serve up. Encourage others to take over certain elements.
If possible, you could let somebody else do all the cooking. I know it can be hard to relinquish your kitchen into the hands of a significant other or family member. Possibly one who insists on using every single item in the kitchen in the creation of their masterpieces. Or one who leaves the kitchen looking like a culinary dystopia.
But, if you have the chance, why not hand over the reins? You might even be able to avoid the dishes if you’re heavily pregnant. Reaching the depths of the sink can be a superhuman feat, completely unattainable by you!
If you don’t have the chance and you’re going to have to cook, be realistic about what you can achieve. Shop as far ahead as possible – or outsource that. Take a few minutes a day leading up to Christmas to chip away at jobs that you can do in advance, like making sauces or baking.
Cooking Up a Storm When EVERY Smell Makes You Heave
If you’re in the early stages of pregnancy and/or suffering from morning sickness, then I truly feel for you. What you cook may be dictated by what you can handle the smell of!
If the very thought of Brussels sprouts pan-fried with bacon leaves you heaving, don’t cook them. It doesn’t matter if your mother-in-law loves sprouts and it isn’t Christmas without them. If she really wants them, let her cook and bring some to the table. Or she can use your kitchen at a time when you’re not in there. This will also provide the perfect opportunity to test your lockable bedroom door.
Severe aversions to foods and smells are unfortunately pretty common in the first trimester. Also unfortunate is the misnomer ‘morning sickness’ – often the nausea lasts all day.
If you’re really suffering with morning sickness, remember this. There’s no rule that says what you have to eat for Christmas. Eating a large bird with several vegetable sides isn’t the law. Cook what you can handle cooking – your family will understand.
Christmas When Pregnant: Stuff You Can’t Have
Hosting a family Christmas can be stressful. Sometimes stressful enough to reach for the Sauvignon every time the doorbell goes. Or sharing enough shots of brandy with the pudding that it’s hard to tell which of you is more spiked.
But all that’s out when there’s a baby on the way. Experts state that no alcohol is the best choice for an expectant mother in the first three months. And there’s no certainty on the effects of minimal alcohol consumption after this time. But for reference, the current guidelines recommend no more than one to two UK units once or twice a week.
Sadly, rum balls are included.
Delicious Unpasteurized Cheeses
Most Camembert, Brie, and blue cheeses are unfortunately a no-go zone. Unless you’ve stacked your cheese boards high with artisanal cheeses made from pasteurised milk, avoid them.
Check the ingredients list. If they list pasteurised milk then you can imbibe with impunity. Hard cheeses are generally fine too, as is cooked cheese.
Some fish and shellfish have high levels of pollutants and are best avoided during pregnancy. Others are fine and you can munch away at will, so long as they’re completely cooked to the point of opacity.
Stuff You Can Have Instead
Fear not though, there’s plenty of ways to keep yourself sated during the festivities. Swap cocktails for mocktails and choose manchego cheese over cambozola. And that glass of Sauvignon…. well ok, that’s a bit harder to replace, but these days you’ll find a great range of low and non-alcoholic wines and beers which taste great. Soda water with a dash of elderflower or ginger also makes a delicious and refreshing, long drink.
You’ll also be able to enjoy most, if not all, of the dishes on the table when you sit down to eat. There’s loads of conflicting advice about what’s ok to eat and what isn’t when expecting. The trick is to avoid the, often unwanted, advice of others and seek out information for yourself.
The Spirit of Christmas
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. No one expects you to be a pregnant version of Martha Stewart – or at least they shouldn’t! Christmas is hard enough to plan and execute when you’re not pregnant. Plan ahead as much as possible, and consider some serious outsourcing to get you through the season.
Then you can kick-back, eat, drink, and enjoy all the joys of Christmas. Whether you got there with a dry heave or two, or employing your new lockable door, or not.