What to pack in your carry-on to save your pregnancy glow from traveling.
I’m a firm believer in the importance of self-care. Pregnancy can be a difficult time to remember to take care of you, between all the preparation, the doctor’s appointments, the anxiety and fatigue. And when you travel, it’s easy to forget to be extra good to ourselves. But be careful, when you combine travel and pregnancy, you have a double-whammy of not great self-care waiting for you at your destination.
Fear not, that’s pretty easy to fix. Here are 5 easy steps to take better care of your pregnant body while traveling.
1. Start as you travel. As they say, it’s the journey, not the destination. Whether you are flying, driving, or taking the train, travel is hard on your body. So don’t wait till you arrive at the hotel or at your parents’ house to start taking care of yourself — your mode of transportation is where good self-care should begin. Since dehydration is common during travels, drink more water than you usually do. It’s not only good for your skin, it’s also good for your body and baby!
We hear all about how pregnant women are supposed to “glow,” right? Sometimes, though, that infamous glow takes a backseat to another common side effect of pregnancy: acne. Acne is quite common during pregnancy and can affect women no matter their skin type. The most likely cause of pregnancy acne is—you guessed it—hormones. During the first trimester especially, your hormone levels increase, along with your skin’s production of natural oils. An increase in the hormones called androgens causes your skin to overproduce an oily substance called sebum. Sebum clogs pores and can also cause bacteria buildup and inflammation, which then leads to breakouts.
Pregnancy acne is natural, and once hormone levels even out post-pregnancy, the acne usually disappears. It's safest for you, and your growing baby, to avoid heavy-duty acne medication, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer through breakouts for nine months. Here are some safe, at-home solutions that can help you deal with pregnancy acne.
Amend your cleansing routines. You want to be kinder to your skin, so stick to two gentle face washes a day. Washing more than two times a day can overstimulate your oil glands, which can lead to more breakouts. When you do wash (ideally at the end of the day or after a sweaty workout), choose calming cleansers free from alcohol and oils. It’s suggested you use lukewarm water to rinse and avoid harsh steaming water on the face. Since your hairline is close to where acne may form, you also want to be careful of the shampoo you’re using. Shampoo every day using a gentle, pregnancy-safe wash like Nine Naturals Citrus+Mint Nourishing Shampoo. If you find acne breakouts in other areas, follow the same guidelines and check out Nine Naturals Citrus+Geranium Soothing Body Wash.
Be mindful of your diet. If you’re expecting, you’re probably already hyper-aware of the foods you’re eating. But if you find you’re dealing with problem skin all of a sudden, you might do a diet check-in. Are you focusing on eating whole foods and foods that have been minimally processed? Are you getting hefty daily doses of veggies and fruits? Are you doing your best to avoid sugar? Are you drinking enough water? The food you eat makes a difference in your skin, so be sure you’re being mindful of what you’re consuming. Some foods that make your skin happiest include avocados, salmon, and leafy greens.
Go for straight-A’s. Speaking of food choices, upping your intake of vitamin A could help out with your pregnancy acne. Vitamin A is instrumental in keeping skin healthy. Avoid the supplements and go straight for the vitamin-rich foods like milk, fish, eggs, and carrots.
Change how you wear makeup. During pregnancy, you may find it helpful to switch up your makeup routine. Ditch the makeup that are oil-based and opt for water-based products with the label noncomedogenic; this means that the makeup is not pore-clogging. You could also try an oil-free moisturizer or moisturizing product to help maintain balance in your skin.
Notice the little ways you can take care of your skin. Acne is caused by bacteria, so the more you can avoid bacteria on your face (or wherever your breakouts occur), the better. Keep your hands away from your face, and try not to pick at the pimples. Change your pillowcases frequently as a defense against bacteria buildup. Keep your cellphone at a slight distance, and not pressed against your face. These small tricks can help you battle a massive amount of acne-causing bacteria.Talk with your doctor, because not all acne treatments are pregnancy safe. Pregnancy acne is a major pain, but it’s also usually temporary. With that said, it’s best to steer clear of chemically laden, and potentially dangerous, over-the-counter or prescription acne medications and treatments. If you want a natural at-home acne treatment, here’s a recipe we’ve tried: blend together raw honey, cooked (and cooled) oatmeal, and a touch of lemon juice. Apply to your skin and leave on for about 10 minutes. Wash off, then lightly moisturize. Save the intense acne treatments for postpartum, if you still find the need to restore balance in your skin.
How sitting still for 2 months helped prepare me for motherhood.
At 12 weeks pregnant I started bleeding. The doctors at the emergency room discovered a large oozing blood clot in my uterus and told me I was now a high-risk pregnancy. I went home and stayed there, on medically required bedrest, for the next two months.
Life as I knew it screeched to a halt that day. Work, school and activities like grocery shopping and walking the dog all stopped. Rushing and busyness did too, as well as the importance of a clock, a calendar and all these props that have always kept me on track. I was off track now, uncomfortable. All that structure kept me humming and safe. With abundant tasks, a full schedule and a race for time, I felt purposeful, and my identity was all worked out: I was what I did.
“You’re grounded!,” my baby stated resolutely. “If you want me, I need to be your priority. Figure it out”. He may have been less curt than that, but I admit to feeling conflicted and angry at him for abruptly inserting himself and his needs into my life in such a way that derailed everything I had going on. But anger soon gave way to fear, and fear entered as my primary companion. No one could tell me that my baby would be ok. Everyone just looked at me with upraised crinkled foreheads and could say nothing conclusive.
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Unless, of course, you’re suffering from morning sickness or late-pregnancy exhaustion. But no matter how you feel, you can still make the most of the holiday season, and even appreciate how special these pre-baby celebrations are. By next December, the holidays will take on a whole new meaning with your newborn baby in your arms. How can you stay festive and fuss-free this holiday season?
Give yourself permission to slow down. Maybe you have a list of to-do’s a mile long. Cut it in half. Cut it in half again, then cross several items out. You need to rest while your body is working overtime, so give yourself permission to take it easy this holiday season. Figure out what the most important things on your list are for you, and commit to those. Anything beyond those, you can give your apologies, but you aren’t going to overextend yourself this year. Maybe that means you don’t host the yearly cocktail party at your house, or you miss your friend’s gift exchange party. Don’t be afraid to tell people you aren’t feeling up to getting together. Who’s going to get mad at the pregnant woman, anyway? No one. So feel free to use it to your advantage, and take care of yourself!
Ask for help and delegate. No matter how much you pare down your commitments, there are always things to do during this time of year: shopping, decorating, baking, gift-giving. But you’re not alone, and you don’t need to do everything yourself. Ask others to help you decorate the house or prepare your share of the holiday meal this year. If there are holiday activities that you earnestly love and don’t want to miss, invite friends over while you do them so that your responsibilities are lessened. If you promise hot cocoa and holiday music, you can turn these seasonal tasks into your own, low-key festive party!
Start a new tradition to share with your baby next year. There may be many obligations you don’t attend to this holiday season, and don’t feel guilty about that. But the holidays are also a time of family tradition and building ceremony around these special events. It can be very fulfilling to choose one or two things to commit to, knowing that you’ll continue them in years to come with your growing family. Be on the lookout for community events, holiday markets, or seasonal concerts that you can see integrating into your holiday schedule. Find one or two traditions that are for you, your baby-to-be, and your own family. Celebrating them next year, during your baby’s first holiday season, will be extra-special.
Catalog the memories for your little one. If the holidays coincide with that optimal baby-bump phase of pregnancy, take advantage of the timing and take part in a holiday-themed maternity shoot. Include whomever you’d like, from your partner to your extended family, but those photos will definitely be cherished for years and years. Even if you don’t go for professional photos, be sure to take plenty of informal pictures of you and your family while you celebrate. As your child grows, it will be so meaningful for him or her to see what the holidays looked like before they arrived.
It’s okay to indulge in a few favorites around the holidays. Chances are, you’re very aware of what and how much you’re eating while pregnant. During the holidays, good food and drink is everywhere, and it’s important to be mindful of what you’re consuming. You should absolutely treat yourself, especially when it comes to your favorite seasonal treats, but holiday food isn’t exempt from usual pregnancy rules. Be aware of what you’re eating while you’re at parties and at your office potluck, to be sure that it doesn’t contain raw food or hidden alcohol. And while you probably don’t need to catalog every cookie you eat, be sure that you’re not going overboard on sweets, when it’s available in such abundance. Fruits and veggies are still the healthiest bet, even if they’re harder to find amidst the holiday treats.Know the rules of the road before you go. If your holiday plans include travel, be sure that you’re prepared with the latest guidelines and “OK” from your doctor. Travel in cars and trains don’t usually require much accommodation, but flying can be a bit tricky late in pregnancy. Run your plans by your doctor first and be truthful about dates. If you’re driving, take a leisurely route and be sure your seatbelt is always properly fastened around your bump. And now matter how you’re logging mileage, be sure you take enough breaks to stand, stretch your body, stay hydrated and use the restroom.
If you’re expecting, you know that maintaining your health during pregnancy is essential for yourself and your baby. Suddenly, everything you eat, do, or experience isn’t about just you. Your lifestyle impacts the new life you’ve created. Like most moms-to-be, you’ve likely committed yourself to the basics of healthy living. But as you pass from one trimester of pregnancy into the next, there are new considerations to pay attention to and different ways to take care of yourself for each new phase. How is each trimester different? And how can you adapt to make sure you’re doing the most for yourself and your baby-to-be?
The first trimester is about laying a strong foundation for the months to come. During the first weeks or months of pregnancy, you may not even realize yet that you’re expecting. So if you and your partner are trying to get pregnant, establishing healthy routines before taking a pregnancy test is important. Once you know that you’re expecting, you will want to meet with an obstetrician or midwife and establish care as soon as possible. Bring questions, concerns, and your basic stats to the first appointment, and be prepared to listen to advice and best practices.
Eating well is especially important in the first trimester. You want to establish a healthy diet that will give you the nutrients and energy to help build a healthy baby, and to keep you nourished, too. In this trimester, take special care to adapt your diet to include the right balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, with a slight increase in calories. Fill your plate with vegetables and fruits, and limit sugar and caffeine.
In the first trimester, many women report bouts of morning sickness, which can make you feel less healthy than before you were pregnant. Combat bouts of nausea by eating smaller meals and snacks or by sipping on ginger ale and apple juice. Fatigue can be at its worse early on in pregnancy, too. Be sure to rest as often as you can and don’t over-exert yourself. This is one of the hidden perks of pregnancy, so be sure to take advantage of it. Your body needs more rest because of the tremendous amount of work it’s doing. Help your body do its job by sleeping more, taking naps when you can, relaxing at home, and delegating chores to someone else in the house.
During the first trimester, give yourself permission to slow down. Remember how much work your body is doing to grow a baby, and give yourself a break. Eat healthfully and readjust your daily diet so that you’re taking in as many nutrients as possible. Along with a nourishing diet, be sure to take prenatal vitamins and to check in regularly with your doctor.
The second trimester is a time to nurture yourself and your baby-to-be. When the second trimester hits, you may find that you feel more like yourself than you have in weeks. Your morning sickness may have passed, and your energy level has likely shot up. If you’re feeling physically well, look into the types of exercise that are advisable for pregnancy, and keep yourself strong and active. Of course, be sure to vet any exercise plans (even something as simple as a daily walk) with your doctor, keeping safety a priority in your mind. Normally, you can do a variety of exercises while expecting, as long as you remember to stay cautious and not overdo it. Walking, jogging, swimming, prenatal yoga, and low-impact aerobics are examples of generally-safe exercises to do while pregnant. Continued exercise is important for many reasons, like keeping muscles healthy for your changing body and increasing your stamina in preparation for labor. Now is also a great time to begin doing kegel exercises, which will keep your pelvic floor strong through pregnancy and after.
As your belly expands, your entire body is adapting to a new way of being. Your posture adjusts, and the new center of gravity can lead to backaches or strained muscles in a variety of areas in the body. During the second trimester, nurture yourself by getting a prenatal massage and easing some of the new tension that’s building in your changing body. Of course, massages are also terrific stress-reducers, and it’s just as important to stay emotionally fit as physically fit during pregnancy.
Continue with healthy eating habits and be sure that you’re consistent with your prenatal doctor visits. There are so many unfamiliar changes that your body might undergo during pregnancy, and you want to keep your doctor posted so that he or she can nip any potential problems in the bud. During pregnancy, your skin is changing, too. At the second trimester, your skin is extra-sensitive to sun, so be sure to use sunscreen and to limit your time soaking up the sunbeams.
If this is your first pregnancy, each day brings a brand-new experience that’s uncharted territory. Keep your doctor informed with any mild concerns, but if you experience any of these symptoms, don’t wait until the next appointment; call your doctor immediately:
- Severe cramping or abdominal pain
- Severe dizziness
- Very rapid weight gain, as in more than 6 pounds per month.
The third trimester is the time to prepare for what’s about to come. The third trimester can be challenging: it’s physically and emotionally taxing, and toward the end, it can be downright uncomfortable. But as your due date quickly approaches, this is the trimester to stay true to your (possibly newfound) healthy habits and prepare for your new arrival.
Your bump is at its all-time biggest, and you may be feeling the side effects in the form of backaches, sore feet, aching hips, or headaches. There are some modifications you can make to soothe your muscles. Use a full-length body pillow while you sleep on your side, so that you have more support. Use a heating pad on your back and your hips. Try and correct your posture if you notice yourself slouching. This is especially crucial post-pregnancy, when your body will be healing itself, so get into good habits now.
The fatigue of your first trimester may return, exacerbated by poor sleep and carrying extra weight. Take down time while you can, and try to stay off your feet when possible. Rest your body and use this last trimester as a phase to slow down, before the baby comes and everything changes yet again. Continue eating healthy, nourishing meals and snacks and drinking extra water to stay hydrated.
During the final trimester, your baby is growing furiously, and that doesn’t leave as much room inside. You may experience heartburn or constipation as a result, so try eating your nutritious meals in smaller servings, and keeping snacks handy at all times for when you suddenly feel ravenous. Another side effect of your uterus expanding is shortness of breath. This can be unpleasant, and can even lead to dizzy or faint spells. Try and be extra mindful of your breathing, and take deep, full breaths as often as possible. Continued exercise will also help with shortness of breath.
Swelling often occurs during the final months of pregnancy, which can lead to discomfort. To reduce swelling, elevate your feet when you sit and try keeping them elevated while you sleep, too. Propping your feet up while you rest can also calm any flare-ups of varicose veins you might experience in the last trimester.Maintaining your mental health is crucial during pregnancy, and it becomes essential as you come closer and closer to the baby’s due date. Be gentle with yourself, no matter how you’re feeling, and recognize what a momentous time this is. You may want take extra care of yourself during these final months by journaling, talking with good friends, confiding any fears you may have with your partner or doctor, and taking time for yourself and what you love. Pregnancy is a miraculous time, but it is often also a very stressful time. The more relaxed you are, the smoother your transition to motherhood can be.