Dos and Don’ts for Pregnant Travelers
Most pregnant women can still enjoy an active holiday
Usually when you travel you’re inspired to be more active, more exploratory, even a little adventurous as you escape your norm and stretch your horizons. That’s the whole point of being “elsewhere.”
However, when you’re pregnant, some modification to your travel style and activity level might be required.
Activities to Enjoy
First off, pregnancy is not a disability and there are many active things you still can enjoy in this condition. You don’t have to sequester yourself in bed ordering room service your whole vacation (although that does sound decadent, doesn’t it?), but don’t push it. Plan on plenty of rest and relaxation wherever you go.
If you already lead a pretty active lifestyle BC (before conception), you can continue with your fitness routine depending on how far along you are and how you feel, and with the green light from your health provider, of course. Stick to low-impact options like the stationary bike or a pre-natal yoga class, and avoid heavy lifting. However, now’s not the time to embark on a new workout regime, so forgo that fabulous hotel gym unless you workout regularly back home.
Swimming features prominently in many travel itineraries, and the good news is that pregnant woman can enjoy this activity right till the bitter end. In fact, the buoyancy of water can help ease pressure on the lower back, so it might be hard to get you out of the pool at all. Gentle strokes rather than power laps are in order the further you progress towards delivery day. Note, bring at least one or two changes of swimsuits as you may be more prone to yeast infections at this time, especially if you’re traveling in a hot, humid climate.
Walking is perhaps the greatest travel/pregnancy-compatible activity as you can satisfy your impulse to explore and your need for light exercise at same time. You can even enjoy some moderate, low-altitude hiking if you’re feeling up to it. Just wear appropriate, comfortable, non-slip footwear and take plenty of rest stops along the way.
Activities to Avoid
When you’re pregnant, your heart is pumping overtime, your center of gravity is altered and your joints and ligaments are a little looser, so some modification of your recreational activities is in order. Common sense and your doctor/midwife’s go-ahead should be your main guide on what not to do on your travels. Trust your instincts and err on the side of caution.
Starting in the first trimester, avoid any activity that causes you to overheat too much, which can increase your risk for certain birth defects. This includes saunas and hot tubs along with excessive exercise or hot weather activity.
If you work out, try to keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute. Stop if you experience dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea or pain. After the third month, avoid exercises that involve you lying down on your back, such as in certain yoga poses or pilates positions. This supine posture reduces blood flow to the heart and is not good for the developing baby.
As you progress along in the pregnancy, you need to stay clear of any activity where there is a risk of falling or injury – sorry to say, popular travel fun such as skiing, waterskiing, surfing, horseback riding, ice skating and tobogganing make the “don’t” list. Even bicycling should be approached with caution and avoided altogether in the later stages of pregnancy.
Of course, more strenuous or extreme sports are a no-no too, like kite surfing, sky diving, bungee jumping and skateboarding. Scuba diving is also contraindicated as the effects of hyperbaric pressure on a fetus are unknown and not worth the risk.
Golf and tennis are two other activities that go hand-in-hand with many people’s idea of vacation. Tennis is a bit too joint-jarring plus there is a risk of being hit in the stomach by a fast moving ball, so not a good activity for pregnant women to participate in. Many avid golfers continue to play up to a certain comfort point in their pregnancies, but depending on how vigorous your strokes are, there is a lot of torso torque and twisting involved so you might want to take a pregnant pause from the links.
Perhaps you have other kids (or are a kid at heart yourself), and a waterslide or amusement park is on your travel agenda. Sorry mom-to-be, you’ll have to exercise caution here too. The park will usually have a policy on what slides or rides are unsuitable for pregnant women.