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Traveling Tips for Expectant Moms

Chances are that in the nine months of pregnancy, you will travel somewhere. Planning ahead can keep you healthy and comfortable when squeezed into a car or airplane seat. You can even survive airline food if you take control.

"If you're traveling by plane, find out whether a meal will be served," says Bridget Swinney, author of "Eating Expectantly" (Meadowbrook Press). "To control your food, call the airline at least 24 hours before your flight to request a special meal, such as low-fat, vegetarian, diabetic, or seafood."

Swinney also suggests bringing snacks. "Unless you're flying cross-country or overseas nonstop, you won't have a complete meal. Bring along fresh or dried fruit, whole-grain or graham crackers, string cheese, granola bars, nuts, and other nonperishable snacks."

She also cautions against dehydration. "If your flight is a long one, drink plenty of fluids before and during the flight. During long flights, avoid carbonated beverages because they can increase gas and not really provide the water you need."

For exercise, Swinney suggests several options. "During layovers, walk to your gate instead of using moving sidewalks or a bus. Request an aisle seat so you can easily walk and stretch or go to the restroom. Bulkhead seats in the first row of each section offer more leg room. Or, you may want to go to the back of the plane and just stand or stretch for a while. While sitting down, you can do isometric exercises, which can improve circulation."

But not all pregnant women are jet-setters, and many have long car trips to endure. Swinney offers these tips to make the trip comfortable: Bring a small cooler to keep yogurt, cheese, veggies, milk, fruit, and other snacks. Pack the makings of a sandwich to save money on restaurant food. Stop at a grocery store along the way to pick up fresh or dried fruit and ready-to-eat raw vegetables.

Traveling can actually be a time when pregnant women eat too much. "Sitting in the car for extended periods of time may induce 'boredom eating,' but you don't need as many calories just sitting," says Swinney. Limit snacking to when you are actually hungry and don't feel you have a eat a big meal just because you are stopping. Eat regular-size meals when you stop, order appetizers or eat just half a portion."

Swinney stresses that exercise is also important during car trips. "A lack of activity can slow down your digestion and increase constipation. Bathroom breaks will allow you to get out and stretch, which can prevent back pain and increase circulation. Try to make extended stops to see things of interest. Use these 'adventure stops' as your exercise time to walk and stretch."

Once you reach your destination, Swinney has four tips on staying healthy. First, get a hotel room with a mini-fridge or kitchenette. This allows you to keep your own snack foods as well as high-fiber cereals for breakfast or snacks.

Second, try to make wise food choices when eating out. Restaurant diets tend to be lower in fiber, calcium, vitamin C and folacin, and higher in fat and sodium.

Third, when staying with friends or relatives, bring along foods you usually eat, such as high-fiber cereal, milk, and extra fresh or dried fruit.

Fourth, pack non-perishable snacks in your bag for hectic tourist schedules. Good snacks include cheese or peanut-butter crackers, boxes of raisins, wheat crackers, fiber bars, apples, bananas, and individual bags of pretzels. Juice boxes and bottles of water pack well to keep you hydrated.

Finally, Swinney offers advice for traveling outside the United States. "If you are traveling to a foreign country, talk to your physician before making reservations. Vaccinations may be required that you can't take while pregnant. Or, you may need to eat very carefully to avoid bacterial poisoning. You may want to take some nonperishable foods with you to snack on if familiar foods aren't available where you are going, or if food safety may be an issue."

Traveling while pregnant doesn't have to be a hassle. "If you have concerns about your travel plans, ask your doctor. Then pack your snacks and prepare to have a great time," says Swinney.

Author: FeatureSource Staff

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