It may take more planning and careful consideration, but there are many reasons to feel positive about having your baby over the Christmas period. Being organised beforehand will reduce stress and anxiety, and this includes asking your healthcare provider a few key questions at least a month before your baby arrives.
If you suspect you might have a newborn to care for at Christmas time, you’ll also want to have a chat with your partner and family to plan ahead and ensure you’re not hosting the party or cooking the turkey!
Here are important questions to consider:
Should I induce?
If you’re certain that you don’t want to spend Christmas in labour or in hospital with a new baby, speak to your healthcare provider about the pros and cons of inducing labour. In medical terms, the process entails stimulating uterine contractions, typically through medication, prior to the onset of spontaneous labour.
Generally, your healthcare provider will only agree to an induction if there are no health risks to you or the baby and you’re as close to your due date as possible. Remember, the longer your little one stays in your tummy the better it is for his overall health and wellbeing.
Registered nurse and midwife, and co-author of the Expectant Mother’s Guide 2014, Lynne Bluff highlights a few pros and cons of inducing labour:
- Ends a prolonged or post-term pregnancy
- Prevents complications to you or your unborn baby (such as in the case of high blood pressure)
- Ends the pregnancy if you are diabetic
- Avoids a too big a baby or if your baby has stopped growing and thriving in the womb
- Prevents infection if the membranes rupture before going into natural labour
- Contractions are more painful
- May cause severe postpartum bleeding
- More continuous and intense foetal monitoring – which means you won’t get to move around as much
- Prolonged labour if done too early
- Higher risk of a C-section if done on a cervix that isn’t ready for labour
- Can cause foetal distress
- Can cause increased neonatal jaundice.
In South Africa, many moms consider inducing labour over the festive season to ensure that their chosen healthcare provider/gynaecologist is there to deliver the baby. This is a matter that should be discussed and agreed upon months ahead. But there’s no guarantee that your preferred gynaecologist will deliver your baby – even if he is on duty – as there may be other emergencies that he might need to attend to on the day.
If you’re planning a natural delivery, choose a doctor and hospital that’ll support your decision and plan accordingly, no matter what time of year it is.
Do I have to postpone my holiday?
The short answer is yes, unless you want to take the chance that you might end up going into labour in the car on the way to your destination or having your baby in a small seaside town without the support of friends or family.
“I have a blood clotting issue, which made my pregnancy high risk,” explains Johannesburg-based mom Tanya Botha. “And although my husband and I had planned a trip to Cape Town over the festive season, my haematologist advised me to cancel it explaining that long car trips aren’t advisable in the third trimester. Not only is it uncomfortable for pregnant women to sit for long periods, it also raises the risk of blood clotting as veins are under more pressure than ever before and the lack of mobility can cause swelling and stagnation.”
Although it might not be the easiest thing to travel with a new baby, more moms are planning trips away in the first 12 weeks after birth to avoid the post-pregnancy blues and to relax in peaceful surroundings.
Will the hospital be equipped to handle the labour over Christmas?
Although they might have a holiday schedule and run on skeleton staff, both public and private hospitals are well equipped to run properly and handle all emergencies over the festive season, says ER practitioner Hayley Rosenthal. Elective procedures might be shut down between Christmas and New Year, so make sure to speak to your healthcare provider well in advance if you’re having an elective C-section.
Some senior staff might be on leave with junior staff having to take the lead – so if you’re a high-risk patient, it’s worth planning ahead and knowing in advance who will be on duty at Christmas time should you go into labour and need additional assistance.
What should I expect in hospital during the festive season?
You can expect the normal day-to-day routines in hospital with a little more festive cheer, especially in the maternity ward, says Hayley. Staff generally make an effort to be merry – with Christmas hats and songs etc., plus visiting hours and hospital rules can be a little more relaxed. So you’ll be able to invite more friends and family to see your new bundle of joy.
How will I manage the holidays with a new baby?
If you’re entering the “fourth trimester” in the holiday season, the trick is to party less and relax more. We’re not saying you need to hibernate for Christmas, but it’s important to manage friends and families’ expectations. For example, it might not be wise to volunteer cooking Christmas lunch or hosting it at your place, as guests coming and going might be overwhelming for you and your baby.
Here’s a few tips to manage the festive season with minimal stress:
- Set boundaries. Work with what you’re comfortable with. If that means staying home on Christmas Eve or only meeting for late afternoon tea on Christmas Day because you and the baby have taken a nap, then so be it.
- Ask for help. The one benefit about having a baby over Christmas is that there’ll be more hands-on deck to help. There’s no shame in asking friends and family members to watch your little one while you enjoy Christmas lunch or help with changing nappies, bath time or feeds if you’re expressing. Feel like a post-lunch nap? Ask your partner to take the baby for a walk in the stroller while you catch up on sleep. Holidays are the time to slow things down.
- Ditch mommy guilt. This means prioritising what’s important and forgetting about the rest. So, this year you might not spend as much time shopping and wrapping gorgeous Christmas gifts. Or you might end up with a pile of dishes or dirty washing for a week. No one is going to judge you for it, so it’s important to let yourself off the hook. The trick is to write down what’s most important – number one being you and your family’s wellbeing, and take on other tasks if and when you can.
Tammy is a wife, mom and freelance writer with 15 years’ experience in the media industry. She specialises in general lifestyle topics related to health, wellness and parenting. Tammy has a passion for fitness and the great outdoors. If she’s not running around after her daughter, you’ll find her off the beaten track, running, hiking or riding her bike.