How to Manage Diet and Exercise for Early Pregnancy During Holidays

The challenges of early pregnancy during holidays

While the holidays are an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, it’s also a stressful time of year. From holiday parties to baking and wrapping, there is a lot to do. Depending on where you live, seasonal changes may be another factor. As we make our way through the holidays, the weather can change drastically.

Despite all of this, early pregnancy during holidays can still be enjoyable with the right mentality. The key is to find ways to stay healthy and focused on your growing family.

The basics of diet during early pregnancy

Early pregnancy is a crucial time for your growing baby’s development. Likewise, if you are currently starting in vitro fertilization (IVF), you want to maximize your chances of a healthy pregnancy. There is a lot of information out there, but the good news is, you don’t need a fancy diet plan.

Focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet that is centered around whole foods. Numerous scientific studies have found improved fertility rates and better pregnancy health with a diet centered around:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Plant-based proteins (lentils, quinoa, walnuts, hemp seeds, and chia seeds) or lean proteins (chicken, turkey, and certain types of fish)
  • Whole grains
  • Monounsaturated fats (nuts, avocado, canola oil, and olive oil)

Foods high in folic acid are especially important to support a healthier pregnancy, reducing birth defects and other risks. These include:

  • Lentils
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Asparagus
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Papaya
  • Spinach

Last, but certainly not least, proper hydration is a key factor of reproductive health, including fertilization and pregnancy. Drink plenty of water and avoid beverages that dehydrate you.

Holiday foods to avoid and indulge in during early pregnancy

Holiday parties are famous for some major indulging! Unfortunately, there are things to watch out for when you hit the buffet line.

First, undercooked meats, food that has sat out too long, and sushi are off-limits. The concern here is an increased likelihood of bacteria that can make you sick. When it comes to pregnancy, a bout of Listeria could be devastating for your growing baby.

Are you a big fan of cheese boards? You can still indulge in a range of delicious types, but avoid soft cheeses like uncooked brie, gorgonzola, and chèvre goat cheese. Again, the reasoning is an increased risk of Listeria. Opt for cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella. It’s also worth noting that charcuterie is another no-no. Avoid cold cured meats like salami and prosciutto. Balance the abundance of sweets with seasonal fresh fruits, like citrus, or roasted spiced nuts.

When it comes to beverages, alcohol is completely off-limits, and caffeine should be limited to 200 milligrams per day. Already had your cup of coffee? Opt for a warm cup of hot chocolate or spiced apple cider to get in the holiday spirit!

The basics of exercise during early pregnancy

Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, especially when you’re pregnant or trying to conceive. You’ll sleep better, feel stronger, and keep your weight gain within a healthy level.

Walking or swimming are great methods of exercise that are still safe for you and your growing baby. But what if you’re used to a more aggressive workout routine? First, talk with your doctor about your exercise regimen. If you’ve been doing it all along, you may be safe to continue with a few modifications.

Note that, there are some stages of IVF when your doctor may ask you to avoid exercise altogether. This is usually before eggs are retrieved and following embryo transfer for at least ten weeks. Why? Our own Dr. Dickey notes: "Exercising the large muscles in the arms and legs can draw blood away from the ovaries and uterus.” You can learn more about exercise safety and IVF here.

Once you are pregnant, you always want to avoid overdoing it. No unsafe weights, jarring activities, and excessive heat. During exercise, you should always be able to talk without running out of breath. If you can’t, you're pushing too hard.

Remember, if you enjoy yoga and floor exercises, you should not be on your back for more than a couple of minutes. This is because your uterus can cut off circulation to your legs, feet, and the baby.

Learn more about early pregnancy and the holidays

It’s important to be open and honest about your lifestyle with your doctor. This is the best way to ensure a healthy early pregnancy during the holidays. The holidays are a time for joy and merriment, and the new pregnancy is another reason to celebrate!

Are you trying to grow your family? The Fertility Institute of New Orleans can help you achieve a healthier pregnancy. Contact us to learn more about our fertility treatments.