There's a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, like that little one on the way! While this is a great time to gather around the dinner table with family, being pregnant can make it a bit more challenging to navigate. From avoiding morning sickness triggers to preventing awkward family encounters if you haven't announced your pregnancy, there are plenty of reasons you might be stressing out about Thanksgiving.
Not to worry, we're here with some Thanksgiving tips for navigating these situations, figuring out what to wear, determining what you should and shouldn't eat, and more. With this guide in hand, we promise you'll survive this kick-off to the holiday season!
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Thanksgiving Tips for Expecting Mamas
Avoidance Is Key if Suffering from Morning Sickness
Can't stomach certain smells or foods right now, let alone a kitchen full of them? Avoidance is your friend here. Try to sit as far away from the kitchen and arrive a bit later than you usually would to avoid heavy cooking smells. Steer clear of spicy foods or those cooked with a lot of butter or other fats.
Instead, grab the nearest carbs or starches like potatoes or pasta. Blander foods like bread or crackers are best when experiencing morning sickness. If you're still feeling queasy, come prepared with some stomach-settling herbal teas or ginger ale in tow. Check out these other remedies to help you combat those frequent first-trimester woes.
This is the Perfect Time to Dress Comfortably
During Thanksgiving, even those who are not expecting will dress in clothes with a bit of extra room. Think oversized sweater dresses, elastic-waisted pants, comfy tees, leggings, or billowy dresses. Especially if visiting someone else's house for dinner, try to dress in layers. Bring a cardigan or wear a tee underneath your sweater. This will help for those moments when the temperature gets uncomfortably hot or cold.
If you already subscribe to The Belly Bundle and have announced your pregnancy to the family, don't forget to wear our ”Extra Thankful” tee. It’s the perfect way to celebrate the holiday! Check out this article for other Thanksgiving maternity outfit inspiration.
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Delegate Tasks if You’re Feeling Exhausted
Nothing whisks away your energy quite like growing a tiny human inside of you. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving at your place and feeling exhausted, this is the time to call in some favors. Turn it into a potluck-style meal and ask your siblings or friends to bring a dish. Don’t be ashamed to buy some side dishes or desserts pre-made at your grocery store, favorite restaurant, or bakery. Skip the fine china, and recruit some help in loading the dishwasher post-meal.
Don’t Buckle Under Social Pressure
We know you’re super excited, but if it is still early in your pregnancy and you are not ready to share the news, don’t succumb to the pressure. Sure, your nosy Aunt has been asking you for years when you’ll start growing your family but now isn’t the time to slip up.
If you’re concerned that prying family members will notice you are not drinking, pour some sparkling water or bring a discrete nonalcoholic choice from brands like Seedlip or Ritual Zero Proof. And don’t worry, there are many reasons beyond pregnancy why people don’t drink. You don’t owe anyone an explanation.
Come Prepared to Conquer Heartburn
Eating a large, heavy Thanksgiving dinner is a sure way to fire up heartburn. Given that 50% of pregnant women experience this symptom on a typical day, we say it’s best to come prepared to fight it. Pack heartburn tea and antacids if approved by your doctor, and have some pasteurized yogurt or milk with a spoon of honey to help ward off heartburn.
This is another reason to limit fattier, spicier food choices. You might also want to skip any fried foods and limit caffeine or fruit juices to minimize acid reflux.
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Keep Your Water Glass Full
Staying hydrated is super important, especially while pregnant. Drinking plenty of water during Thanksgiving dinner will help minimize heartburn and morning sickness symptoms. Even better if you start in the morning and increase how much water you’re drinking earlier in the day. This will keep your stomach feeling full longer to better tackle the showcase meal later.
Skip or Limit These Foods
Food is a major part of Thanksgiving, and you don’t need to be deprived of enjoying that. There’s a ton you can eat with no problem, but some foods should be limited or skipped altogether to avoid any risk, and keep you and your baby safe.
Generally, steer clear of soft, unpasteurized cheese, raw meats, deli meats, and the foods we highlighted in the sections below. If you are hosting, be sure to follow all food prep precautions. Visiting for Thanksgiving instead? Make sure the host knows their way around the kitchen and follows food safety guidelines. Feel free to reheat something in the microwave if that makes you feel more at ease.
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Undercooked Turkey & Stuffing
Turkey is the centerpiece of Thanksgiving meals, and it’s definitely something you can enjoy. You just need to be sure it was cooked at the appropriate temperature to kill harmful bacteria like salmonella or E. coli. The FDA recommends using a food thermometer to make sure the turkey reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are preparing the turkey, be sure to store it in the refrigerator and let it thaw out. Do not leave it out on the countertop or at room temperature. And skip washing it in the sink, as this outdated step could actually spread bacteria. After it reaches the appropriate temperature and let it stand in the oven for at least 20 minutes before carving and serving.
While pregnant, avoid stuffing that is cooked inside a turkey since it risks contamination from undercooked meat. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat stuffing; you’ll just need to be sure it is cooked separately in a casserole dish.
Homemade Holiday Drinks
For some families, serving homemade eggnog or apple cider is a tradition. While nothing beats that rich flavor, sadly, many of these family-made drinks are often unpasteurized. Even if served warm, there’s still a chance it could be contaminated with E. coli.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to food poisoning, so these homemade beverages likely need to be skipped this year. Ask if you aren’t sure if something contains alcohol or is homemade. Instead, opt for some hot chocolate, spiced tea, or store-bought, virgin cider or eggnog that’s labeled pasteurized.
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There are plenty of delicious Thanksgiving desserts, and baked goods are a favorite. While whipping together a batch of cookies or brownies, it’s so tempting to sample a taste of the batter. But, pregnant women should resist this urge since raw flour and eggs are both a risk. One trick is to chew gum while you’re baking to keep you from sampling the goods. Just wait until the oven dings, and then all of these scrumptious treats are fair game to eat and enjoy.
While pregnant, it’s best to keep that saltshaker out of reach. Blood pressure and water retention are already being impacted by your physical state. Adding more sodium into the mix will only increase the chances of swollen limbs or feet. We’re sure your Thanksgiving meal is adequately seasoned, so skip that added salt.
Raw Cheeses & Vegetables
You’ll want to be careful with any cheese plates. Many soft kinds of cheese are raw or unpasteurized, so avoid cheeses like feta, brie, gorgonzola, camembert, goat cheese, queso blanco, Havarti, Roquefort, or panela. If you’re unsure, check the label or packaging if possible.
When it comes to cooked veggies, you can eat your heart's content. But, you’ll want to skip any raw crudités platters during Thanksgiving feasts. Many of these trays come prepackaged, and the vegetables might not be so thoroughly washed. This leaves them susceptible to contamination or pesticide residue.
Plus, if any appetizer trays like this have been kept out throughout the party, it’s usually not safe to eat them after about 2 hours being left at room temperature.
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Cold Cuts or Pate
Similar to cheese and crudités trays, skip any appetizer plates that include cold cuts or pate. Charcuteries like cold salami or pepperoni and smoked salmon could contain listeria. Pate should be avoided at all costs, but cut meats like salami can be cooked if you really have a craving. Truthfully though, we don’t see the appeal of heated salami as an appetizer, so it’s probably best to just munch on something else.
There’s Still Plenty You Can Eat
While this may sound more restrictive than Thanksgivings of past years, there is still plenty of tasty food you can feast on while pregnant. Avoid the riskier choices and make modifications to dishes like stuffing so you can stay safe and enjoy your favorites too. To counterbalance the off-limit foods, here are some you’ll want to grab an extra serving of at the dinner table.
Cooked Vegetables or Fruit
Thanksgiving is known for autumn harvests filled with fruits and vegetables. Indulge in these delightful dishes like sweet potatoes, spinach, Brussel sprouts, pumpkins, apples, or cranberries. These cooked vegetables and fruits contain many of the nutrients your body craves extra of while pregnant. So, stock up on these choices during this holiday feast.
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Pumpkin is a superfood for pregnant Mamas. It’s high in iron, protein, and calcium, perfect for you and your growing baby. It is not only packed with nutrients but can also reduce stomach aches, swelling, and help regulate blood sugar. Use this knowledge as an excuse to have an extra slice of pumpkin pie guilt-free.
Grab some pecan pie or a handful of mixed nuts in between bites. Nuts are high in magnesium, copper, vitamin E, and omega-3 and 6. Studies have even shown they are beneficial to your baby’s neuropsychological development. It can even help improve your memory and cognitive function early on in pregnancy. So, we say go nuts when it comes to eating nuts this Thanksgiving!
With these tips in mind, you're sure to have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration surrounded by family and friends. Enjoy it! With your baby on the way, we're certain next year is going to look much different.