Pregnant at Christmas: what am I allowed to eat and drink?
Marie: Let’s talk holiday food. Here’s a topic that’s been the talk of the town! What can you eat at Christmas when you’re pregnant?
Léa, midwife and head of medical content at May: During pregnancy, there are plenty of food restrictions. These precautions are designed to prevent toxoplasmosis and listeriosis. During the first medical consultation, a serology test is carried out to determine whether you are immune to toxoplasmosis. Listeriosis, on the other hand, concerns all pregnant women.
Here’s a summary of our advice:
- Avoid raw oysters, shellfish and seafood. Listeria, which may be present in these raw foods, is a bacterium killed by heat. As soon as you eat a cooked food, the risk of listeriosis is eliminated. However, oysters, which are often eaten raw, do present a risk. Cooked shrimps are okay.
- Uncooked smoked salmon should be avoided. If it’s been baked in the oven, in a quiche for example, then it’s okay.
- For fans of foie gras: we say no to artisanal foie gras, raw or semi-cooked. We say yes to pan-fried foie gras and industrial, pasteurized jarred foie gras.
- Cheese: as a general rule, pasteurized cheeses are allowed, but not others. Pregnant raclettes are also permitted, as the cheese is cooked! Listeria bacteria are killed by highly cooked cheese, so it doesn’t matter if you eat unpasteurized cheese… as long as it’s properly heated and cooked.
- For catered dishes, it’s advisable to re-cook them before eating to avoid bacterial contamination.
- Cut food needs to be re-cooked.
- Frozen dishes such as raw salmon or sushi present a risk of listeriosis. This bacterium is resistant to cold. It is not advisable to eat frozen sushi when pregnant. Toxoplasmosis is destroyed by cold.
- If you eat frozen vegetables, the risk of toxoplasmosis is avoided by freezing them.
- Desserts made with raw eggs, should be avoided. In industrial preparations, cooks often use pasteurized raw eggs, so you’re allowed. Look carefully at the list of ingredients.
- Fish, capons, turkeys and other meats are allowed, provided they are well cooked.
Marie: Alcohol and pregnancy now. Is it okay to have a glass of champagne during the holidays when you’re pregnant?
Léa: Throughout pregnancy, there’s zero tolerance for alcohol, even at 8 and a half months! There can be repercussions from the beginning to the end of pregnancy from any kind of spirit (wine, champagne…). The risks are malformative and/or cerebral. They can affect the child with attention disorders, learning delays and much worse. We take zero risk by banning glasses of wine and other beverages from the beginning to the end of pregnancy. The party will be just as wild with alternatives like JNPR.
Marie: What can breastfeeding moms eat on New Year’s Eve?
Léa: When you’re breastfeeding, there are no particular dietary restrictions. It’s great to eat everything with a balanced diet. Unless you have a special avoidance diet when a specific allergy is suspected in the child.
Marie: Are nursing mothers allowed to drink alcohol?
Léa: It’s always advisable not to drink when breastfeeding. Alcohol takes three hours to be eliminated in breast milk. If you can manage it without risk to the baby, then why not have a glass. The risk is present with a toddler and breastfeeding on demand. Potentially, the baby can quickly ask for a feed and the three hours aren’t up yet… That’s a lot of math to get right! Some moms use a breast pump to replace the next feed with milk pumped beforehand. Everyone does what they feel like doing.
Marie: Alcohol-free beers sometimes contain a small percentage, is that a risk?
Léa: You have to look at the label carefully. The less you drink, the better. Dishes cooked with wine are another tricky question. Theoretically, when alcohol is heated, it evaporates. But how long has the dish been heated, etc.? And also… alcohol never really disappears from a dish. It’s difficult to measure. It’s up to each individual to decide.
Marie: For women who are less than three months pregnant during the holiday season, what do you recommend? Make the most of Christmas and break the news to your family, or keep it a secret if you don’t want to?
Léa : It’s a personal choice! Announcing a pregnancy early is possible if you want to, even if there is a potential risk. Whatever happens, it’s a happy event, a chance to build something. If you’re not comfortable, don’t tell your family. It’s difficult in terms of restrictions. One solution when you want to hide your condition is to say that you’re planning to have a baby!
Marie: How do you manage fatigue and the pace of the holidays when you’re pregnant?
Léa: First of all, if you’re tired, talk to your health professional to check for anemia (iron deficiency). You can take iron supplements to help you stay in better shape.
Then, listen to yourself! Make time for naps, go to bed earlier if possible. Let go of the non-essentials: your body is already making a human being – it’s exhausting. Adopt a cool program and take it easy.
Marie: What advice do you have for pregnant women to protect themselves during this period?
Léa: Surround yourself with caring people! The holidays can be a time when you see malicious people you don’t have in your daily life. It’s a stressful time of year when you’re going to get remarks. You have to surround yourself with people who mean well, just like in real life.
Pregnancy is a time when you have the right to say no to a number of things, such as a trip to the other side of the world or toxic people in your life.
You don’t have to do this, but if necessary, cite pregnancy-related fatigue as a reason for refusing certain trips.
Marie: Is it safe to travel during this period?
Léa : Unless you have received a contraindication from your doctor, there is no limit to traveling by car or train during pregnancy. However, car journeys can cause tugging or contractions. Trains are more comfortable. You can stand up, move around, go to the bathroom… Travelling during pregnancy is much more tiring.
Organize a lighter trip (by train, instead of by car), take regular breaks, get up and walk… It’s good for your health. Even on long journeys, you might want to plan a stopover with an overnight break, so you don’t complete the journey in one go.
In any case, make sure you stay hydrated and wear compression stockings during your journey, right from the start! This advice is valid outside pregnancy. When it comes to blood circulation problems in the legs, compression stockings are a relief for everyone. If you sit too much or fly too much, most people come out with swollen ankles and shoes that are too small. Swollen feet!
Another advantage is that compression stockings are reimbursed by Social Security. So get in touch with your midwife, gynecologist or general practitioner for a prescription. And don’t forget teleconsultation if you’re unable to travel!
There are all types of compression stockings: socks, stockings, cotton, linen, bamboo and for all skin tones. It’s a far cry from grandma’s ugly compression stockings that you have to hide.
Marie: What do you recommend taking with you when you travel?
Léa: For any trip away from home, we recommend taking your medical file with you, including check-ups, ultrasounds… If you need to, you’ll have all the information at hand. If you wish, you can take your pregnancy pillow with you.
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