From November through January, most families enjoy gatherings, shopping trips, celebrations, and other traditional activities. For some people, all of that sounds great! For others, it feels like a tsunami of stress. Plus, this year, we need to take COVID-19 into consideration.
If you’re receiving prenatal care from Dr. Parisa Pourzand, you probably already know about the importance of reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, and protecting yourself to the extent possible from the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But how do you manage all of that and also enjoy the holidays?
Before we get to the tips, we should note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated: “Based on what we know at this time, pregnant people might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 may be at increased risk for other adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth.” In other words, you should take whatever precautions you can to reduce your risk of contracting the virus.
Under normal circumstances, there are few restrictions on travel for pregnant people, unless you’re very near to full term. Then it’s generally a good idea to stay close to home.
Now, with the pandemic, you may want to consider any plans to travel very carefully. You should think about the risk of contracting COVID-19 wherever you’re going, as well as your accommodations for travel. The more people you’re near, the greater your risk.
We’re not suggesting that travel is absolutely out of the question, but you should think about it, weigh the pros and cons, and decide if the risk is warranted.
Unfortunately, weddings, funerals, birthday parties, and other gatherings have turned out to be some of the biggest superspreading events. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner with lots of people gathered around a dining table inside is probably not a great idea.
If your family must gather, consider doing so in an outdoor location, or “attending” virtually. Any time you’re around people you don’t live with, you should wear a mask, they should wear a mask, and you should maintain a distance of six feet if at all possible.
Outside of the usual list of items to avoid — like soft cheeses, deli meats, sushi, steak tartare, etc. — the special holiday item to avoid is eggnog, as it is often made with raw eggs. Otherwise, enjoy your holiday favorites.
Pregnancy is stressful. The holidays are often stressful. And, a global pandemic is certainly stressful! For your own health, and that of your developing baby, you should try to reduce stress as much as you can.
By following Dr. Pourzand’s advice, keeping all of your prenatal care appointments, and taking care of yourself, you can reduce the stress of pregnancy to some degree. You’re doing what you can to insure you and your baby are healthy.
When it comes to the holiday season, do what you can to make it easy. If shopping creates stress, talk to your family. Perhaps drawing names, exchanging homemade gifts, or skipping the gift exchange altogether could be options. Shopping online is safer than shopping in person, and if you do decide to hit the stores, wear a mask and maintain physical distance from other shoppers.
Try to get as much rest as possible, when you can. Enough sleep is critical for stress reduction.
If you need to opt out of some holiday traditions in order to lower your stress levels, remember that it’s not necessarily a permanent change. Maybe you usually bake 12 dozen cookies to share with neighbors, but the idea is simply too exhausting to contemplate this year. Skip it! Your neighbors will be fine.
Make time to do things that you enjoy. Prop your feet up and watch a movie. Read a novel. Dive into a craft. All of those things can help you relax and ease your stress.
For more specific advice regarding your situation, talk to Dr. Pourzand. As your physician, she knows you and your medical history and can give you guidance to help you get through your holiday season. Schedule an appointment online or by phone in Glendale or Los Angeles.