Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday in the United States. In addition to enjoying a festive, traditional meal, Thanksgiving is also a time for connecting with family and friends and is the unofficial start of the winter holidays that lie ahead. However, Thanksgiving can also be a stressful holiday, especially for a pregnant woman. I have developed tips for women to follow that will not only help them to get through the holiday but also enjoy and savor what makes this holiday so special.
Do what makes your comfortable
The stress of the holidays, including preparation, travel, dealing with family or friends can make the holiday something undesirable. Do what you want to do: its OK to “sit this one out” if you want to. If you are not feeling mentally, emotionally, or physically up to dealing with family, a crowd, or preparing for the holiday, I see no problem telling family and friends that you are opting to take care of yourself this holiday and staying close to home or making your workload less.
Plan ahead for travel
It is estimated that people travel at least 50 miles or more to get to and from a Thanksgiving celebration. When you’re pregnant, long car rides or long periods of travel are not optimal. If you are going to travel, make sure factor in rest breaks or times when you can get up, walk around, use the bathroom, and drink water. Avoid prolonged sitting or long periods without eating, drinking, or using the bathroom.
No matter how great of a cook you might be, this is a year to skip cooking. Standing at a stove, or trying to juggle making multiple dishes is not good for a pregnant woman or her baby. Instead, I recommend this year, you offer to help with the meal preparation by taking on tasks that involve sitting such as assisting in the meal preparation. I strongly discourage pregnant women from taking on the whole meal preparation on their own.
Pass on being the hostess
When you’re pregnant, its OK to let someone else serve as host or hostess for the holiday. Regardless if Thanksgiving is your holiday, let someone else do the heavy lifting. You can still contribute and participate, but when you’re pregnant you need to let other people take on the planning, shopping, cooking, preparing, and clean up.
Offer to bring a dish that you can make in advance
I have learned through the years that any recipe I can make in advance, at my own pace and when I have free time, and ones that store well and transport just as easily, are my favorites. Thanksgiving is a perfect time of year for those make ahead recipes. Family and friends will appreciate your contribution regardless of when you made it. Be kind to yourself and do what you can.
Be prepared for dumb questions
People are enthralled with pregnant women. Everyone wants to know if you know what you’re having, how you’re feeling, what you’ll name the baby, or what your plans are for your delivery. Boundaries, especially at the holidays, seem to disappear because everyone wants to touch your belly, tell you how “huge” you are, or what your body shape tells us about the status of your pregnancy or how it will turn out. I have come to learn that people mean well. They’re genuinely happy for you and, in their own way, they are capturing or participating in a piece of that excitement in their own way. You set the boundaries of how you want people to address you or what topics are off limits.
Enjoy the moment
Everyone wants a “perfect” holiday. They don’t exist. The holiday is meant to be a time for family, friends, or anyone important to you to share space and a moment in time, reconnecting with what is important or what binds you together. You’re adding a new, important person to the mix (your baby!) and that makes the circle of family or friendship grow stronger and wider. Your baby, in its own way, ensures that the circle continues.
Stay connected to what the holiday is meant for: sharing stories or history, strengthening bonds, reconnecting with people who matter, and celebrating time’s passage. You don’t have to do anything you don’t feel up to doing; your presence is enough. Be present and savor what the holiday is all about.