Eight top tips for pregnant travellers

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Eight top tips for pregnant travellers
Reduce stress
Maximise your energy
Eat smart
Make frequent pit stops
Get advice on vaccinations
Avoid thrush Choose safe activities
Choose safe activities


Worried that travel during pregnancy could leave you exhausted and uncomfortable? We've got tips for making your journey as enjoyable and comfortable as possible.

Reduce stress
Staying home for nine months isn't the only way to avoid travel stress. Some simple planning strategies will go a long way toward reducing your anxiety.

Assume, for instance, that you're going to be delayed en route to the airport, train station or destination and schedule plenty of extra time to get there. Travel light -- ideally, pack only what you can carry. If that's not possible, buy a fold-up luggage rack with wheels or use a luggage trolley at the airport. Most importantly, bring your sense of humour. Raging hormones may leave you ready to scream or cry. Instead, do your best to take long queues or delayed flights in your stride. Relax -- and tune out -- by reading or listening to music on your Walkman.

Maximise your energy

Even if hiking mountains, visiting museums, dining out and going to the theatre have always been part of your travel routine, now's the time to slow down. Business trips may not allow you complete control over your time, but don't plan to tackle all the things you did before you became pregnant. Once you reach your destination, be sure to build quiet times into your daily routine. Taking a bath, napping, reading on the beach and even spending a quiet evening with room service can keep you feeling rested and energised throughout your trip.

Eat smart
Hunger is probably a familiar companion now that you're pregnant, and missing meals can leave you feeling sick or faint. Before you travel, pack plenty of healthy, portable snacks in your hand luggage, such as nuts, dried fruit and cereal bar. And don't just carry bottled water -- drink it. It's always important to avoid dehydration, and you're particularly susceptible when flying. Drinking extra fluids will help prevent swollen feet and ankles, too.

Your eating schedule may be disrupted on the road, but don't skimp on regular, nutritious meals once you arrive. Well-balanced meals are important for both you and your growing baby. If you can't get daily doses of fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of protein, ask your doctor before you leave about taking extra vitamin and mineral supplements.

Carry healthy, energy-boosting snacks in your bag at all times -- a cereal bar could help you through a long afternoon.
If you're having trouble eating for two -- or you're finding that some foods and smells now turn your stomach -- try eating five or six small meals a day. They may go down easier than three big ones and frequent, light eating will reduce your chances of heartburn, too. Sucking a mint or boiled sweet can also help quell queasiness.

Make frequent pit stops

You may find yourself in need of a toilet more often than you thought humanly possible. Airplane facilities are cramped and public toilets can be dirty, so when you find a clean, comfortable bathroom, use it. Try to anticipate when you'll need to hold on -- perhaps between service stations on the motorway or before boarding the plane -- and make sure you go beforehand.

If you're flying or travelling by train or bus, opt for an aisle seat so you can get to the toilet without disturbing other passengers.

Sitting anywhere for long periods of time can make your feet and ankles swell and your legs cramp. When you're driving, be sure to take breaks at least every 90 minutes for stretching and walking around. If there's an empty seat next to you on a plane, train or bus, put your feet up. Taking off your shoes may feel lovely, but your feet may swell during the flight making your shoes feel tight. Keep your blood circulating by strolling the aisle and doing some simple stretches. If you're sitting or standing, stretch your leg, heel first, and gently flex your foot to stretch your calf muscles. When you're sitting, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes.

Pregnancy puts a strain on your circulatory system that can leave you susceptible to thrombosis (blood clots) and varicose veins. Flying during pregnancy increases your risk even more. If you're prone to varicose veins, wearing support stockings (rather than tights, which can increase your risk of developing thrush, see below) when you fly will help keep your circulation moving and relieve swollen veins. For maximum benefit, put on support stockings while you're still lying down before you get out of bed in the morning and keep them on all day.

Comfortable, supportive shoes, such as trainers or flatties, are essential, especially if your itinerary calls for lots of walking. It's a good idea to have an extra pair to change into at the end of the day. Bring blister pads, too, as even well broken-in shoes can rub. If your growing bump makes bending over a chore, slip-on shoes will make life easier, although they're usually less supportive.
Get advice on vaccinations

You need to be extra careful about medication when you're pregnant, and that includes vaccinations. If you're travelling within North America or Europe, you probably won't need extra jabs. But, of course, you may want to travel to a country where vaccinations are required. Your doctor will advise you about which ones are safe during pregnancy. You can also contact MASTA to get up-to-date information about which vaccines are required and where.
If you are trying to get pregnant and know you will be travelling abroad soon, try to get vaccinated before you conceive.
Avoid thrush

Pregnancy makes you susceptible to thrush and hot, humid climates can make the situation worse. Wearing cotton pants and loose cotton layers can help you avoid the problem. Leave tight jeans and nylon tights at home. It never hurts to toss some anti-fungal cream or pessaries for vaginal thrush into your travel bag, just in case -- see your GP who will prescribe a treatment that's safe for your stage of pregnancy.
Choose safe activities

Waterskiing, snowboarding, skiing or surfing may be your favourite sport, but put them all on hold while you're pregnant. For now, you should avoid any activity that puts you at risk of falling. Scuba diving and other "pressurised" sports are out as air bubbles can form in your bloodstream as you surface. These bubbles are very dangerous for both you and your growing baby. Cross waterslides and amusement park rides off your list, too, as a forceful landing or sudden acceleration or deceleration could harm your baby. Some studies show that raising your temperature during early pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects, so you should avoid saunas and Jacuzzis, too.

You can do plenty of other activities, such as yoga, brisk walking (including hiking and backpacking), swimming and gentle jogging (provided you jogged before you were pregnant). You could also consider a moderate game of tennis, although you may find your balance isn't great! See our Pregnancy Exercise Guide to learn more about exercising when you're pregnant. For a more complete list of pregnancy-safe sports, take a look at our article on Exercises Recommended for Pregnancy.

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