Traveling During Pregnancy

Unless you fall into the high-risk pregnancy category, it’s perfectly possible to travel safely during pregnancy, as long as you take sensible precautions and ensure that you are prepared for the unexpected.

  • Before planning your trip, consult your doctor to discuss any potential risks particular to your pregnancy

  • Avoid traveling to parts of the world where there is a high risk of disease

  • Avoid live vaccines, such as chicken pox, measles, mumps, and rubella, since these are usually not recommended in pregnancy

  • Remember that oral vaccines to protect against yellow fever, typhoid, polio, and anthrax are contraindicated during pregnancy

  • Tetanus, hepatitis, and flu shots are considered to be safe

  • Take with you any regular medication or remedies—you may not be able to find what you need at your destination, or you may be delayed

  • Check with your airline in advance: some won’t allow you to fly past 36 weeks without a current doctor’s letter confirming your due date and fitness to fly

  • Check with individual travel-insurance companies to be sure that pregnancy is covered

  • Arrange for an aisle or bulkhead seat for extra leg room

  • Wear your seat belt under your belly and across your lap

  • Reduce the risk of deep-vein thrombosis, which is more likely during pregnancy, by drinking plenty of fluids, remaining as mobile as you can, and wearing support stockings while flying

  • In developing countries, only eat fruit you have peeled yourself; avoid leafy greens and salads, which may have been washed in contaminated water

  • Drink bottled water

  • Travel light and make sure you can easily pull or carry your luggage

Dealing with Sleep Problems

Feeling exhausted throughout pregnancy is absolutely normal, but the weight of your baby can make it difficult to sleep, and common pregnancy symptoms often occur at night. However, help is at hand.

  • Get regular exercise, which encourages healthy, restful sleep

  • Eat tryptophan-rich foods before bed 

  • Have a warm (not hot) bath about 30 minutes before bedtime, or just turn out the lights and burn some candles in a dimly lit room

  • If you suffer from restless legs syndrome, increase your intake of folic acid, and, when RLS strikes, immerse your feet in a bucket of cold water, then return to bed with your feet raised on a pillow

  • Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, which discourage sleep

  • Try a cup of warm milk to relax and encourage sleep

  • Don’t watch TV in bed if you’re having trouble sleeping; experts recommend that you should only use your bed for sleep and sex

  • Keep your clock out of sight if seeing the time will make you anxious

  • Use cushions and pillows to support your growing bump while you sleep

  • Ask your partner for a massage to help reduce tension

Ideal Exercise

Even if you’ve had a sedentary lifestyle until now, you can safely start an exercise program during pregnancy—just check with your doctor before you get going. Not only will exercise help you maintain a healthy weight, but it will also promote restful sleep, encourage circulation and elimination, reduce tension, and get your feel-good endorphins flowing.

  • Don’t exercise to lose weight or suddenly “shape up”; instead, exercise at a mild to moderate level

  • Start slowly and build up: 15–20 minutes at a time, three days a week, is plenty for beginners

  • Never exercise past the point at which you can no longer talk

  • Swimming will help keep you fit and supple without putting pressure on your joints

  • Yoga eases tension, and encourages flexibility and strength

  • Walking—even gentle—is an easy way to stay fit and experience the benefits of exercise

  • Running and jogging are fine, if you’ve done them before—make sure you have good shoes, and don’t push yourself too hard; this is great training for chasing your toddler-to-be

  • Cycling supports your weight, but you can be at risk of falling as your center of gravity shifts; instead, try a stationary bike, and start slowly

  • Stair-climbing machines will raise your heart rate and keep you fit; hold on to the side rails for support

  • Aerobics or aquarobics classes are fine, but choose one for pregnant women that has been adapted for safety and health

  • Dancing is very good exercise, and can get your heart pumping; avoid spinning or jumping, though, which may cause a fall

  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) are not only recommended, but essential; strengthening these muscles can help you through labor and delivery, and minimize bladder leaks and hemorrhoids

  • Always keep yourself well hydrated, stopping for sips of water as you go

What not to do

Some activities should definitely be avoided, including high-risk sports, horseback riding, downhill skiing, snowboarding, waterskiing, and scuba diving. Avoid ab exercises that have you lying flat on your back. Weight-lifting and other exercises that involve standing in one place for longer periods can decrease the flow of blood to your baby. The best advice? Keep moving!

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