How can I relieve bloating, gas pain, and heartburn while traveling?
When you're on the road, it can be hard to maintain a healthful 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. In short, 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 some while traveling, but you can take steps to ensure that you don't suffer as often or as severely.
• Pack loose, comfortable clothing (nothing that fits tightly around your waist or stomach).
• Instead of eating three big meals, have several small meals throughout the day. Take your time eating and chew thoroughly.
• Don't eat dinner too close to your bedtime. Give yourself two to three hours to digest before lying down. Try sleeping with your upper body propped up with several pillows.
• Limit your fluid intake during meals (and make up for it between meals).
• Avoid foods and drinks that cause you gastrointestinal distress. The usual suspects are carbonated beverages; alcohol (which you should avoid anyway during pregnancy); caffeine; chocolate; high-acid foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, mustard, and vinegar; processed meats; mint products; and spicy, highly seasoned, fried, and fatty foods.
• Don't smoke (again, this is a habit you should break before getting pregnant).
• Ask your healthcare provider about taking antacids. (Over-the-counter antacid products are generally considered safe during pregnancy.)
How can I relieve constipation?
If you suffer from constipation before you go on a trip, traveling may 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.
To avoid or relieve the problem, bring high-fiber foods like bran cereal, whole-grain breads, fresh or dried fruit, and vegetables to snack on. Drink plenty of fluids — at least six to eight glasses a day. Drinking prune juice is particularly helpful. Exercise eases constipation, so make sure you take breaks to walk and stretch. At your destination, take advantage of hotel fitness centers and swimming pools or local facilities.
Ask your doctor or midwife about taking along an over-the-counter fiber supplement. Also ask about the iron in your prenatal vitamin. High doses of iron (more than 30 milligrams), 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 feel tired when you're pregnant, since 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.
Taking an afternoon nap is an especially good way to avoid exhaustion. At your destination, set aside time each day to put your feet up, 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 keep you going.
To get a good night's sleep, 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. Try to spend time outside in the daylight to help reset your biological clock to the new time zone. Getting some exercise during the day (but not too close to bedtime) can help you sleep more soundly, as can taking a warm bath before bed.
To head off middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom, avoid drinking anything two hours before bedtime, although you might want to make an exception for a sleep-inducing glass of warm milk. Keep evening meals light and non-greasy to help ward off indigestion and heartburn. 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.
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