Pregnancy and holi have one thing in common – they both mark new beginnings. However, you might be wondering if it is safe to play holi and enjoy the festivities while you are expecting. You do not necessarily have to stay away from the celebrations. Nevertheless, let us first understand a few facts… During pregnancy, your hearts swells and you grow softer, literally! Studies show that the heart grows larger, in order to drive nutrition to your growing foetus and to manage the increased blood content and flow. Your body begins to produce relaxin, which is a hormone that softens the bones and ligaments, in preparation for the pelvis to accommodate the child and facilitate smooth labour. Your immunity levels also drop and the skin becomes more sensitive. Therefore, it is better to be cautions and take certain precautions while playing Holi, given your “delicate condition.” Vigorous activities and harmful colours might be harmful to the baby, and could even lead to premature delivery, miscarriage or birth defects. While our motive is not so scare you, here is some useful information that might help…
Why Chemical Colours are Harmful
Most chemical colours contain oxidised metals, so that they give a deep colour. Chances are these might contain one or more harmful substances, such as copper sulphate, lead oxide and mercury. Sometimes crushed glass is also used to increase quantity. While playing holi with powder colours, you could inhale these substances. And, while playing with water, these substances could be absorbed by your skin. This is turn could affect your respiratory and nervous systems due to your low immunity. Also, it could have a severe impact on the foetus via the blood stream. Lead, copper and mercury can impact growth and cause birth defects. These substances could also cause miscarriage, if the foetus is less than 20 weeks old. In fact, be extra careful if you are still in the second trimester, since over 80% of miscarriages occur in the first 20 weeks.
Is it Safe to use Natural Colours?
Many are under the impression that colours labelled “natural” are safe. It is important to know that the dye used might be extracted from either fruits or flowers. However, the powder base with which they are mixed might contain chemicals like zinc, lead and mercury. Therefore, pregnant women should preferably use homemade holi colours. Even if you are convinced with the claim that these are 100% natural; it is best to take a few precautions:
- Apply a thin coat of oil, this ensures that the colours do not get absorbed by the skin. Also, it will not stain your skin as much, and come off easily. Wear fully covered clothes, so that you reduce your exposure to colours. For stubborn skin stains, consider using gram flour (besan) as a scrub.
- Even if you use natural colours, it is best not to inhale it. Consider covering your nose and mouth with a light handkerchief.
Avoid Water and Large Crowds
The simple reason for this is that you might slip, fall and get injured. While organic holi water might solve the issue of chemicals, the associated risk of slipping is still there. Also, it is better to stay away from a crowd, since there are chances that people might get boisterous.
- A slip and fall injury can cause a miscarriage, displacement of the foetus, brain injuries to the foetus and pre-mature caesarean delivery.
- Use powder colours, and play in a small gathering; where people understand your condition.
- Stay close to a support structure, so you have something to grab on to, if you feel that you are losing your balance.
- Talk to your family and friends and include games like Antakshari, which involves less movement.
Restrict Food and Drinks
The rich holi feast consists of deep-fried spicy snacks, chaat, bhang lassi (which has nicotine), ghee sweets, caffeine beverages and paan. And, these are exactly the things you need to stay away from during pregnancy.
- Nicotine and alcohol have a two-fold effect. First, they could make you feel drowsy and increase your heart rate. Since your heart is already working extra, pushing it further might cause you to faint. Second, nicotine can affect your child’s brain and nervous system.
- Due to hormonal changes, you weight might already be on the rise. So, it is best to control you intake of high-calorie foods. Also, too much oil and ghee might give you a stomach upset and indigestion.
- Sweets might also cause gestational diabetes. While this usually goes away after childbirth, it could cause low infant weight, pre-mature delivery and birth defects.
- If you are already diagnosed with gestational diabetes, make sure that it is always kept under tabs. It might increase the incidence of birth defects and still births. Also, a high rate of gestational diabetes might double the risk of type 2 diabetes after delivery for you.
Speaking of health issues, cord blood banking is an important resource for your child. Research shows that stem cells drawn from cord blood and lining can successfully cure over 80 diseases. So, this holi do something to celebrate the imminent life growing within you and invest in cord blood banking. The only colour this will give you is the colour of hope.