Avoid holiday stress when you're pregnant

Pregnancy can be an extremely stressful time in a woman's life, and it can be particularly difficult if you are pregnant during the holiday season. While Christmas and Hanukkah are supposed to be about spending time with family and friends and thinking about all of the things you are grateful for in life, these holidays can also be major sources of stress and anxiety. It's particularly important that you keep your cool during this festive season, since stress during pregnancy may harm fetal development.

According to a 2008 study conducted by researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem School of Pharmacy, if a mother is stressed during pregnancy then her child may be at risk for experiencing developmental and emotional problems.

Keeping that in mind, it's important for you to keep your stress levels low during the holiday season.

Be honest
If you're feeling stressed or depressed during the holiday season, then the Mayo Clinic recommends that you be honest about your feelings with your friends and family. There may be a lot of pressure on you to get into the holiday mood, but if you're feeling tired, stressed or anxious then tell your loved ones about it. Chances are, they will understand that you are dealing with a lot, and be able to offer you understanding and support.

Have a realistic attitude
While everyone wants to have a perfect Christmas, you shouldn't drive yourself crazy trying to make everything flawless. If you don't think you'll be able to make the same seven-course meal you made last year, then don't worry about it. You're pregnant, and your number one focus should always be on your health and that of your baby, not making sure that everyone else is having a nice holiday season. If things aren't perfect this year, that's fine, just think about the fact that next winter you'll have your baby with you to celebrate the holidays, which will more than make up for any shortfalls this year.

Just say no
If you're worried about hosting a holiday party, cooking a large meal, buying presents for everyone and decorating the Christmas tree, then just say no. You've got more than enough on your plate to deal with without having to worry about being the perfect holiday hostess, so don't be afraid to turn your relatives down if they ask you to have Christmas at your house this year. Someone else can take the brunt of the holiday work this season, and you shouldn't have to worry about it with everything else you have going on.

Watch your diet
Being pregnant increases your appetite, and during the holiday season, there are plenty of treats around to satisfy your hunger. Stress can also make you want to eat indiscriminately, so you need to be careful. You should be maintaining a healthy diet throughout the course of your pregnancy, so you should try not to eat too many holiday pies, cakes and cookies (as hard as it may be!) during this season.

Make a plan
If you do end up hosting a holiday party, be sure to plan ahead. Leaving things up to the last minute is stressful for everyone, and you don't want to add to your anxiety during your pregnancy. Make a list of everything that needs to be purchased and prepared, and then make an outline of how you plan to do all of these things. Also, consider doing a lot of your holiday shopping online so you don't have to be on your feet all day walking around stores looking for the perfect presents.

Remember to take the holidays as an opportunity to relax and have fun with your family, not to stress out.

What are your plans for the holidays? Do you have any steps for dealing with stress? Leave your answers here!