Common Pregnancy Questions
Can I travel while pregnant?
If your pregnancy is uncomplicated you are most welcome to travel, including by plane, in pregnancy. Most airlines allow travel up to your 40th week if there is only one baby on board and 36 weeks if you are carrying twins (or more), for flights up to four hours’ duration. The rules for flights longer than four hours are a bit stricter, allowing you to travel up to 36 weeks with a single foetus and 32 weeks with a multiple pregnancy. If flying after 28 weeks, you will require a certificate of clearance, which can be provided by your GP, midwife or obstetrician.
It is important to be aware that the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVTs) from travel is higher in pregnancy and post-partum, and so you should take certain precautions on your journey. Whether in a car or a plane, be sure to get up and walk around regularly, moving your legs and feet, stay hydrated by drinking water and consider using anti-embolism (TED) compression stockings, which are available from pharmacies.
When you travel, be sure you take some form of pregnancy record with you, so that in case of emergency the local doctors can know what stage you are up to and what your important test results are. Be sure to purchase travel insurance which covers not only yourself, but also your baby, should it be born early whilst away. Be familiar with the availability of medical services at your destination, as well as clean drinking water and food safety. Also, avoid travelling to Zika prone areas whilst pregnant or within 6 months of trying to conceive.
Here are some other good sources of information
Air Travel and Pregnancy PDF
The CDC’s Resonse to Zika and special precautions for travel to at risk areas Zika Pregnancy Travel PDF
Current outbreaks of Zika https://www.cdc.gov/zika/
Is it safe for me to exercise?
Yes, absolutely, in fact it is recommended that you do 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. Exercise is vital in pregnancy and has been shown to improve women’s self-esteem, increase muscle tone, lower rates of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure and a quicker recovery from birth. Exercise can also improve sleep and mood, which is especially important in pregnancy, and when practiced sensibly poses no risks to the unborn baby.
It is important to be aware that pregnancy can causes joint loosening, posture changes, an altered centre of gravity and blood pressure fluctuations, all of which can increase your risk of injury. If something feels uncomfortable, painful or unsafe, don’t do it, but otherwise, find something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. This might be swimming, cycling on a stationary bike, Pilates, yoga, jogging, walking and don’t forget pelvic floor muscle exercises! Avoid contact sports and those with a high risk of falling (e.g. skiing or horse riding), and be sure not to lie completely flat on your back once you’ve hit the halfway point of your pregnancy. Make sure you warm up before exercise, stretch, and cool down afterwards. Drink plenty of water, avoid overheating and limit your intensity to a point where you can still carry out a conversation while you’re working out (the “talk test”).
If you have any complications in your pregnancy, consult your obstetrician, GP or midwife to discuss if your exercise plans are appropriate for your needs, as they may some adjustments.
Fact sheet for more details Pregnancy and Exercise PDF
What vitamins should I take and what should I eat?
Although there is a lot of concern about food safety in pregnancy, it’s important to make sure you still eat regularly and a balanced diet. Most women struggle to get enough of the right foods in during the day, especially when experiencing nausea or food aversions, and so a pregnancy multivitamin is advisable throughout the pregnancy. You may need to try a few until you find one which doesn’t cause constipation or upset your tummy. Your doctor will let you know if you need additional supplements of a specific vitamin or mineral.
Avoid alcohol altogether in your pregnancy and limit sugary drinks. Drink plenty of water or carbonated water (soda or mineral) if you don’t like plain tap water.
Food safety in pregnancy and a guide to good nutrition Food Safety and You Pregnancy Brochure PDF
Should I stop drinking coffee?
Not necessarily. It is considered safe to have up to 200mg of caffeine per day, which equates to one café coffee or two cups of instant per day. Tea contains much less caffeine, although it will differ, depending on how ‘strong’ you make the cup. Herbal tea and decaf is a safer option if one cup is not enough to get you through the day. Excess caffeine intake has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage and a baby with a low birth weight. Be especially wary of energy drinks as they have extremely high levels of caffeine and other stimulants (and usually a high sugar content), which is unsafe in pregnancy.
Caffeine also increases the heart rate and can trigger palpitations, as well as worsening reflux and heartburn, so as your pregnancy progresses you might find your allotted one cup a day not as pleasant anymore!
What about my sex life?
Unless you have a complication in your pregnancy (such as bleeding, placenta praevia or a shortened cervix), sex is safe to continue throughout your pregnancy. There may be times where you may feel queasy, exhausted and not in the mood and other times where the increased blood flow to the pelvis and genitals may make you feel particularly aroused or playful. Avoid putting too much emotional pressure on yourself and when the time is right, find a position that’s comfortable and enjoy!