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The pregnant mum's Christmas survival guide

How to cope with Christmas when you're pregnantThe holiday season is meant to be joyful, but for pregnant mums, Christmas time can bring up all sorts of unexpected quandaries.

Swollen feet and ankles, random people touching your bump without asking you first, cocktails you're not allowed to have (but you don't want to tell anyone that you're pregnant just yet), hormone-induced mood swings that mean you cry at the drop of a hat, and relentless tiredness (but you have so much to do!) can all make the holiday season less than delightful for many a pregnant mum.

It's enough to make you consider hibernating until the holidays are over!

Here are five common Christmas season challenges for pregnant mums, what you need to know, and tips to help you cope.

The pregnant mum's Christmas survival guide

Problem: Oedema (swollen feet, puffy legs and cankles).
What you should know: Summer heat, increased weight, and pregnancy-related changes to your blood chemistry can all cause your feet and ankles to puff and swell uncomfortably. When you're rushing around trying to get a million things done during the holidays, oedema can be a real pain -- literally.
Survival tip: Elevate your feet when you're sitting down, prop up your feet on a box or low stool under your desk when you're at work, stay hydrated, and avoid crossing your legs. Also, pregnancy massage and swimming can help too. If you notice accompanying symptoms, like more swelling in one leg than the other, pain, headache, vision changes, chest pains, or difficulty breathing, contact your midwife as it could be a sign of something more serious.

Problem: Space invaders (people who keep touching your bump without permission).
What you should know: Look, there's no excuse for unwanted bump touching. All we can say is, Christmas is a time of family togetherness, and relatives you haven't seen since last Christmas will be excited about your pregnancy. Some people think that a baby bump is an unspoken invitation to lean in and give you a pat, especially if they're a bit tipsy from the Christmas bubbles.
Survival tip: Reach out and put your hand on THEIR stomach. It's usually enough to put others right off! Or carry a plate of food in front of your stomach, to act as a natural barrier to people reaching out to touch.

Problem: You're newly pregnant and haven't announced it yet, and you're invited to parties where there's alcohol.
What you should know: There's no safe level of alcohol in pregnancy, so it's best to resist the temptation to even have one glass.
Survival tip: Mums on the Breastmates Facebook page have had some great advice for how to avoid alcohol without giving your condition away!

Problem: You're so emotional, everything makes you cry -- sappy commercials, holiday movies, charity appeals, Christmas carols on the radio...
What you should know: Blame those pesky pregnancy hormones for your emotional ups and downs. Once your baby is born, your emotions will start to level out. Until then, keep the tissues nearby.
Survival tip: Get a good night's sleep, and have a nap during the day if need be. You'll feel more emotionally balanced if you make sure to get enough rest.

Problem: You're tired, and there's just so much to do.
What you should know: Your body is doing an incredible, exhausting job, growing a baby while you seemingly go about your daily business. Plus you have to physically carry a whole other person around, all day, every day, and you never get a break. No wonder you're so tired!
Survival tip: The best advice we can give is to just say no. Politely decline party invitations, or if you do go out, leave early. Plan for low-key celebrations with minimal effort involved: Instead of that amazing trifle you make from scratch every year for Christmas dessert, offer to bring a simple salad (or better yet, pass the responsibility on to your partner!)

Do you have holiday survival tips for pregnant mums? Share your tips in the comments below, or join us on Facebook to chat to other like-minded mums-to-be and mums! And don't forget to check out our article Beat the Heat: Coping with A Summer Pregnancy for more great advice.

This gorgeous image courtesy of Nykie Grove-Eades at Mistral Photography (www.mistralphotography.co.nz).

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