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How can I relieve bloating, gas pain, and heartburn while traveling?
When you're on the road, it can be hard to maintain a healthy diet and a regular eating schedule. Chances are you'll be eating out more, eating on the run, resorting to fatty fast-food meals, and eating foods you're not used to.
Changes in time zones will shift your mealtimes. If you fly across country, you could find yourself eating supper at what would be midnight back home. As a result, travel can worsen the bloating, gas, and heartburn already common in pregnancy.
If you've been having tummy trouble during your pregnancy, you're likely to have it while traveling, but you can take steps to lessen potential problems.
- Instead of eating three big meals, aim for several small meals throughout the day.
- Take your time eating and chew thoroughly. Don't gulp your drinks.
- Pack loose, comfortable clothing (nothing that's too tight around your waist or stomach).
Advice for avoiding gas:
Cut back on the foods that are most likely to cause gas. These include carbonated beverages, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, leeks, onions, scallions, artichokes, dried fruit, pears, apples, honey, soda, fruit drinks, wheat, corn, potatoes, oat bran, beans, peas, and high-fat and fried foods.
Advice for avoiding heartburn:
Avoid foods and drinks that cause heartburn, such as alcohol (which you should avoid anyway during pregnancy); caffeine; chocolate; acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, mustard, and vinegar; processed meats; mint products; and spicy, highly seasoned, fried, or fatty foods.
Don't eat dinner too close to your bedtime. Give yourself two to three hours to digest before lying down. And try sleeping with your upper body propped up with several pillows.
Don't smoke – in addition to contributing to a host of serious health problems, smoking boosts stomach acidity. (Ideally, this is a habit you should break before getting pregnant. If you're still smoking and having trouble quitting, ask your caregiver for a referral to a smoking-cessation program.)
An over-the-counter antacid that contains magnesium or calcium may ease discomfort, but check with your prenatal caregiver before taking one, because some brands are high in sodium.
How can I relieve constipation?
If you suffer from constipation before you go on a trip, traveling can make it worse. Sitting for long stretches, changing your diet and mealtimes, not having a restroom readily available when you need one, not drinking enough fluids – all these can wreak havoc on your bowels. Try these tips to relieve or avoid the problem:
- Bring high-fiber foods like bran cereal, whole-grain breads, fresh or dried fruit, and fresh vegetables to snack on.
- Drink plenty of water. Getting enough fluids helps keep your digestive system moving. Prune juice can be particularly helpful. The Institute of Medicine recommends that pregnant women have about 10 8-ounces cups of water or other beverages each day. (Drink more if it's warm out or you're exercising.) Another way to ensure proper hydration is to monitor your urine color – if it's dark yellow or cloudy, you need to drink more.
- Exercise. Take breaks to walk and stretch. At your destination, take advantage of hotel fitness centers and swimming pools or local facilities.
- Your bowels are most likely to be active after meals so try to leave time to use the bathroom after you eat and before you head out.
- Ask your healthcare provider about taking along an over-the-counter fiber supplement.
- Ask your provider if the iron in your prenatal vitamin could be the culprit. High doses of iron – more than 30 milligrams (mg) – can cause constipation or make it worse. As long as you're not anemic, you should be able to take a supplement that contains 30 mg or less of iron.
How can I avoid fatigue?
It's normal to tire more easily when you're pregnant. Your body is working overtime to support your growing baby. The demands of traveling – along with jet lag from time zone changes and other disruptions to your schedule – will only add to your fatigue.
While you can still enjoy many of your favorite vacation activities, you may need to slow your usual pace, keep your schedule light, and give up the idea of seeing everything. Keep your plans as simple as possible, and think quality rather than quantity.
- Take naps. An afternoon snooze is an especially good way to avoid exhaustion. At your destination, set aside time each day to lie down, close your eyes, and drift off. Even if you can't take a full-fledged nap, pausing periodically during the day to put your feet up can help.
- Try to spend time outside in the daylight to help reset your biological clock to the new time zone.
- Keep evening meals light and non-greasy to help ward off the gastrointestinal discomforts that can keep you up at night. Cut back on caffeine and make sure you're drinking enough water to stay well hydrated. To head off middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom, though, avoid drinking anything two hours before bedtime.
- Take a warm bath before bed to help you unwind and sleep more soundly.
- Go to bed as close to your normal bedtime as you can, unless you've crossed at least three time zones. In that case, it's best to try to adjust your sleep schedule to local time to combat jet lag.
- Lying on your side with a pillow between your knees is usually the most comfortable sleeping position for pregnant women. Keeping your upper body slightly elevated can help counteract heartburn, too.