Marie: Let's talk holiday food. Here's a topic that's been the talk of the town! What can you eat at Christmas during pregnancy?

Léa, midwife and medical content manager at May: During pregnancy, there are plenty of dietary restrictions. These precautions are designed to rule out 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. It's a rare disease that affects 300-400 people a year throughout France.

Here's a summary of the tips: 

  • 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. 
  • Avoid uncooked smoked salmon. If it's been in the oven, cooked 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, not others. Pregnant raclettes are also allowed, 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 is advisable to re-cook them before tasting to avoid bacterial contamination. 
  • Cut food needs to be annealed.
  • 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 thanks to freezing. 
  • Desserts such as crème pâtissière or uncooked buche de Noël, 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. 
  • Beware of homemade mayonnaises with fresh eggs. Industrial mayonnaises are often made with pasteurized raw eggs, and that's okay. 
  • Fish, capons, turkeys and other meats are allowed, provided they are well cooked

Marie: Alcohol and pregnancy now. Is it okay to drink a small 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! Any type of spirit (wine, champagne...) can have repercussions from the beginning to the end of pregnancy. 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 mothers eat on New Year's Eve?

Léa: During breastfeeding, there are no particular dietary contraindications. It's great to eat everything with a balanced diet. Unless you have a special avoidance diet when a specific allergy is suspected in a 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 little sip? 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 as they please.

Marie: Alcohol-free beers sometimes contain a small percentage, is this a risk?

Léa: You have to look at the labels carefully. The less you consume, the better. Dishes cooked with wine are also a thorny issue. 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 holidays, what do you advise doing? Take advantage of Christmas and announce the news to your family, or keep it a secret if you don't want to announce it?

Léa: It's a personal choice! Announcing a pregnancy early is possible if you want to, even if there's 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 cope with fatigue and the pace of the festive season when you're pregnant? 

Lea: First of all, if you're tired, talk to your healthcare professional to check for anemia (iron deficiency). You can take iron supplements to help you feel better.

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 on how 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. It's important 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 end of the world or toxic people in your life. 

You don't need 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 travelling by car or train during pregnancy. On the other hand, 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 journey (by train, instead of car), take regular breaks, get up and walk... It's good for your health. Even on long journeys, you could plan a stopover with an overnight break, so you don't have to complete the journey in one go. 

In any case, while traveling, make sure you stay hydrated and wear compression stockings, right from the start of your pregnancy! 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 covered 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 support stockings.

Marie: What do you recommend taking with you when you travel? 

Léa: If you're traveling far from home, it's a good idea to take your medical records with you, including check-ups, ultrasounds, etc. If you need to, you'll have all the information you need right at hand. If you wish, you can take your pregnancy pillow with you.

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