It's the holidays! Throw caution to the wind and eat to your heart's content, right? Right?...
Well, sort of. I admit, at this time of year, I'm as likely as the next mummy to pour myself an extra glass of wine (or three) and say "yes" to dessert. But I do have a few tricks up my sleeve when it comes to keeping my weight even over the holiday season. I also have a good understanding of which holiday temptations are not too bad for me and which are calorie and sugar landmines. A single dinner or big day of eating is not going to cause weight gain. But day after day of snacking, baking, tasting, dining and drinking for a week or two makes you a candidate for the 2 pound weight gain the average person inherits over the holiday season.
Now, for your ease, a sampling of holiday treats and their basic nutritional values.
Keep in mind, the average women needs to consume only about 2,000 calories and keep dietary fats to approximately 60 g per day to avoid health risks and maintain a healthy weight. Eat wisely!
There is a lot about motherhood that really can't be put into words. That newborn smell. The sensation of labour contractions. The realization that you might not use the bathroom by yourself again for 4 or 5 years. It's all sort of a mystery until you've been through it yourself, and all of this mystery starts in pregnancy.
From someone who has been there a couple of times, and who sees pregnant and new mommies daily in my Belly Bootcamp classes, let me fill you in on a few of the little mysteries of pregnancy. Here are a few of the little surprises I hear about most often:
It's 10 months, not 9
Gestation starts with the last period you'll have for a long time. The baby is not conceived for a couple weeks more, when you ovulate & the egg is fertilized (insert porn music here), but technically, if you become pregnant, you will be considered already 2-weeks pregnant. Your estimated date of delivery (EDD) will be 40 weeks (that's 10 months, ladies) from that last period. Weird but true.
You can't go poo
It's pretty normal to experience constipation in pregnancy - about 60% of us go through it at some point in those 10 magical months. Hormones cause a ton of changes and one of them is to slow digestion. Eat lots of whole foods, drink plenty of fluids, lay off the sugar & white flour, and exercise! If constipation persists, talk to your OB/midwife about remedies. Try not to rush a BM and, on the other hand, try not to postpone it if you do have the urge to go. Which brings me to...
You definitely can pee, though!
Great news! While you're backed up in one sense, you're like the little naked peeing boy statue at the same time. You can go all. the. time. Especially when you laugh, sneeze, cough or jump. It's normal - things are getting cramped in there and your bladder is feeling the pressure, as are the pelvic floor muscles that hold up all those peeing and baby making organs. So are you going to spend your entire pregnancy without laughing, sneezing, coughing or jumping? Start working on kegel exercises to maintain tone in the pelvic floor muscles and wear a panty liner if you are having trouble controlling the "flow" on a daily basis.
It's all-day sickness, really
Some of us might get that made-for-TV hour or two of queasiness &/or vomiting in the mornings. Many of us find it can strike any time of day, and last much longer than just the morning. Typically, it's an early pregnancy thing but nausea/vomiting can last right up to delivery in extreme cases. I always counsel my pregnant clients not to go too many hours without eating, and to include protein and fat in all meals and snacks so your blood sugar doesn't spike and crash, leaving you starving & even more easily nauseated. And, hey, you're making a person - take a day off work if you need to.
Your eyesight might change
Blasted hormones! You might find you need glasses for the first time in your life, or that your prescription changes and you need new glasses or contact lenses midway through pregnancy, or even after baby is born. Sometimes extreme headaches can occur from this vision disturbance - before you convert your RRSPs to Tylenol shares, have your vision checked.
Everyone else knows what you're having
You might be waiting until the big day, but every co-worker, friend, relative, bus driver and stranger on the street knows exactly what the gender of your baby is. And they're going to tell you. Try to avoid throttling.
Also, your belly is not your private property anymore
The first random hand on your chubby, first-trimester belly will come as a shock. Gradually, you might get used to your growing belly attracting touches, pats and even conversation from the people around you. I never really did warm up to it. Another warning: sometimes they don't even ask first. And when they do, what can you say? It's always an act of love and admiration but sometimes it's just pretty freaking annoying.
You look fat before you look pregnant
You'll notice your waist expanding before anyone else, probably. You might have one of those mystical office psychics who can tell you're pregnant before anyone else, but most people will probably not notice your changing shape for quite a few weeks or even months. Before the uterus gets very big and moves up out of the pelvis, you'll feel the fat in your abdomen seems to be a little more obvious than it used to be. It's being displaced, along with your other organs. Bloat and water retention in pregnancy are also normal and contribute to that swollen waist. Once baby & uterus are a little bigger, that tummy will get big, full and firm and people will start confidently asking whether you're expecting instead of speculating behind your back in the lunch room.
You might hate it. At least sometimes
Some women are all radiant and calm from the moment they conceive, while you are cranky, bloated and can't hold down your lunch. It's okay. You have to get through it, but you don't have to like it. As one of those mommies who was blessed with relatively easy pregnancies, I can assure you that we all have moments of "What have I gotten myself into?" Even without pain, vomiting or other terrible symptoms, I struggled sometimes to not be terrified at the thought that another human being had pitched a tent inside my gut. Pregnancy is wonderful, but also weird. Try some journaling and join some sort of moms-to-be fitness class, labour prep course or social network (or all of the above) to meet others of your kind who can understand your love/hate relationship with this time of your life.
By the way, that love/hate relationship is good preparation for the love/hate relationship you're going to have with motherhood. You might hate puking, shopping for elasticized pants and acting as official spokesperson for all of pregnant kind, just like you might hate night feedings, explosive poops and sore nipples a few months from now. But I guarantee the love is all worth it. Enjoy the ride, and feel free to pull out the "pregnant" card when you just can't take it and need to cry/scream a bit. It might not be all sunshine and roses, but there is rarely something worthwile that comes easily.