Pregnancy is a time of joy, discovery and excitement. But what if you don’t know what to expect when you’re expecting? There are a lot of questions that new moms (and dads) have, and the Payson Birthing Center at Maimonides has heard and answered them all. Our specialists have identified three of the most commonly asked questions to help you on your way to motherhood. This information does not replace the advice of your care provider, If you have any questions specific to your pregnancy, contact your physician or midwife and ask for their advice.
1. Can I travel while I am pregnant?
Travel by car is ok, but wearing a seat belt is a must. “Be sure that the shoulder belt fits properly,” notes Dr. Howard Minkoff, Chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology. “The belt should cross the middle of your chest, between your breasts, and away from your neck. The lap belt should fit snugly across your hips and pelvis, underneath your growing belly.” While, it’s ok to be seated in the front seat, it’s recommended that you move the seat back at least 10-12 inches from the dashboard.
If you need to travel by plane, you should speak to your care provider for approval because they know if you have any special considerations. If you have experienced any complications during this pregnancy or in a past pregnancy, you may be advised against flying. Travel through the second trimester is usually ok, if you have had a normal pregnancy, but long flights can still cause discomforts like fluid build-up and puffiness. “Pregnant women are also at an increased risk of forming blood clots in their legs, especially if they go for a long period without moving,” notes Dr. Minkoff. He recommends maternity support stockings to help prevent a blood clot, as well as taking an opportunity to walk and stretch when it is safe to do so. If you get the ok to fly from your doctor or midwife, remember to stay hydrated and wear comfortable clothes and shoes for your trip. Travel is not recommended during the last few weeks of pregnancy as there is a risk of going into labor on the plane. If you need to travel, try to find a different way to go.
2. Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?
“Staying in shape while pregnant is beneficial for both you and your baby,” states Dr. Minkoff. “However, not all exercise is safe.” Safe exercise includes low impact aerobics such as swimming, riding a stationary bike, prenatal yoga and walking. In general, limit strenuous exercise. Dr. Minkoff recommends that new moms aim for 20-30 minutes of exercise, 4 times a week. “The body changes a lot during pregnancy and some of these changes can lead to shortness of breath and a loss of balance,” emphasizes Dr. Minkoff. “These changes can increase your risk of injury, so be mindful.”
Exercise should not include any contact sports or those that could lead to injury, such as deep twists and abdominal crunches. “In your third trimester, your baby has high oxygen needs,” explains Dr. Minkoff. “Therefore demanding exercise should be limited.”
3. Are there any foods that I should avoid while pregnant?
We know that pregnancy can cause all kinds of strange cravings…pickles and ice cream anyone? Some foods should be avoided, however, as they can potentially harm you and your growing baby. “Pregnancy affects your immune system, increasing your susceptibility to the bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause food-borne illnesses,” explains Dr. Minkoff. Some toxins in small amounts such as mercury, which may hardly affect our body, can be damaging to your developing baby. Check with your care provider for a complete list of foods to avoid, but keep these main foods in mind and reach for alternatives to stay safe.
AVOID: Do not eat soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk (brie, feta, camembert, roquefort, queso blanco, and queso fresco).
ALTERNATIVE: Eat hard cheeses such as cheddar or swiss, and other cheeses made from pasteurized milk.
AVOID: Though tempting, stay away from raw cookie dough and cake batter - don’t even lick the spoon! Raw fish and meat should also be avoided.
ALTERNATIVE: Instead, eat fully cooked fish and meat, and save room for baked cookies and cakes.
AVOID: Some fish, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, have high mercury content.
ALTERNATIVE: You can eat up to 12 ounces per week of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury (shrimp, salmon, pollock and catfish). Albacore tuna should be limited to 6 ounces per week.
AVOID: While your other children may want hot dogs or a sandwich made with luncheon meat/cold cuts, it’s best to stay away. The label may say the meat is pre-cooked, but you must reheat until steaming hot or 165°F before eating.
ALTERNATIVE: Opt instead for some well cooked chicken or other lean meats.