Can I play Holi during pregnancy?

Yes, but with some precautions. Being pregnant may mean you have different priorities than you did before, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun and enjoy yourself. And, if it's your first Holi after marriage, you wouldn't want to miss the special celebrations. If you haven’t announced your pregnancy yet, and feel you're ready to tell the world, then Holi may be a good time to do so. This will help friends and family understand why you're avoiding drinks and being careful about what you eat. If it is still the very early days, it might help to get someone on your side even if you do not want to tell everyone yet. Choose someone whose confidence you can trust because it is a difficult secret to keep! If you're well into your pregnancy and showing a baby bump, people will probably go easy on you without you having to say anything. But you will still need to be cautious about the colours you use and how much you exert yourself. You may want to consider celebrating Holi in your own home and ask family and friends to come over. Even then, if you are preparing a party, you will probably need a few helping hands. But have a word with your doctor before making any plans. She will be able to advise you on what’s safe for your stage of pregnancy. She may suggest additional precautions if you're carrying twins or more or have any complications.

Can Holi colours harm me or my growing baby?

Yes, some colours can be harmful. Now that you are pregnant, it is important to choose the right colours to play Holi with. Colours made at home with natural ingredients such as fruits or flowers are considered safe. They are also the only way of knowing for sure what is in the colour. Find out easy ways of making Holi colours at home. Natural colours made from herbal or vegetable dyes are also considered safe for you and your baby. 

Most herbal dyes use floral or herbal extracts that act as antioxidants as well. But you need to be wary of the label ‘natural’ or ‘organic’. The terms are used very loosely. There are no regulations that control the production of Holi colours, or that require ingredients to be properly listed out. For example, natural henna is considered safe, but black henna with paraphenylenediamine (PPD) may cause allergic reactions. Colours containing either of these forms of Henna will probably be labelled as ‘natural’. Also, a colour made with natural dyes will be labelled as ‘natural’ but the powder base of the colour may be harmful.

Chemical colours are composed of synthetic or industrial dyes and may contain oxidised metals such as lead oxide, copper sulphate, and even pieces of crushed glass. These can affect the nervous and respiratory systems and can be dangerous to your growing baby. In severe cases of exposure, they can cause preterm birth or low birth weight. Learn more about what most of the popular colours in the market are made of and how they can affect your or your growing baby’s health. This will help you decide which colours are safe to play with during pregnancy.

What should I do if I have a reaction to a colour or accidently ingest colour?

Colours can enter your body by ingestion, inhalation or absorption through your skin. Pregnant women have reduced immunity levels that make them more susceptible than others to illness and infections. Your skin will also be more sensitive. So you might find you react to colours this Holi that never affected you before. If you have ingested powder or liquid colours or if someone has thrown colour of unknown origin and quality on you, try the following:

  • Immediately wash your mouth or the affected area.
  • Do not drink salt water, vinegar or any other fluids to try to induce vomiting.
  • Do not eat anything or try any herbal home remedies to flush out the colour.
  • Check for irritation, dryness, redness or any rash.

It's possible that some symptoms appear only after a while, but call your doctor immediately if:

  • the colour used is particularly dangerous and can affect your growing baby such as colours containing mercury or lead.
  • you erupt in a rash, have itchiness or a burning sensation where the colour came in contact with your skin.
  • you got colour in your eyes and have any redness, blurred vision or temporary blindness.
  • you experience dizziness or fainting
  • you start vomiting or get diarrhoea or tummy cramps

Don't try any over-the-counter medicines without checking with your doctor.

What precautions should I take with food and drinks?

There's no celebration without a feast which may include ghee-laden sweets, traditional and alcoholic drinks, paan, and deep fried snacks and chaat. A little planning and some compromise will ensure that you enjoy the treats without some of the unpleasant pregnancy problems afterwards. Here are some tips on how to enjoy the feast:

  • Do not stuff yourself too much or you might get indigestion, heartburn or acidity. Instead, eat less but more often.
  • Avoid fatty, fried or sweet foods if you have gestational diabetes.
  • Stay off any alcoholic drinks such as bhaang. Instead, check out our ideas for party drinks without alcohol.
  • Keep a count on how much caffeine you are drinking or eating. Remember that caffeine is not only in cold drinks, tea and coffee but also in chocolate.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. Braxton Hicks contractions are sometimes associated with being dehydrated, so make sure you always have some water at hand.

What other things should I keep in mind during Holi?

  • When stepping outdoors carry an umbrella to prevent any water or errant water balloons from hurting you. Be extra cautious when crossing busy market places, residential colonies or high rises.
  • While most people celebrate the festival in the right spirit, Holi is often a good excuse for rowdy behaviour. Stay alert and try to keep away from gatherings you're not comfortable about.
  • While burning the holika bonfire keep a safe distance. Ensure that the fire is lit in a properly ventilated place. If it gets too smoky move to a place with some fresh air.
  • Apply a thin layer of oil, moisturiser or petroleum jelly on your face and other exposed parts. This might help to prevent colours from being absorbed. It will also make it easier to wash the colours off afterwards.
  • Wear clothes with long sleeves or full length pants, churidars or salwars to protect your skin.
  • Don’t let colour stay on your body for too long, wash it off before it dries. Some colours become permanent after drying and may take days to come off.
  • Don’t stay too long in wet clothes especially if the weather is still chilly.
  • Drive safely. If you're taking to the road to meet friends and family, remember to fasten your seat belt. This is important every time you are travelling in a car, even for short distances.
  • The floors and roads get slippery during Holi, so be careful! Wear comfortable non slippery shoes.

Keep things in balance and, you never know, this may well be the best Holi ever!