Spending the day on a hot and crowded train is a stressful experience for anyone, but experts have expressed concerns that a stressful commute can put mums and babies at risk. A recent medical study found that stress during pregnancy can not only increase a woman’s own risk of complications, but can also affect the pregnancies of her daughters and granddaughters.
To help reduce the stress of the daily commute, experts at the London Bridge Hospital have suggested several ways for you to feel more comfortable and safe when commuting during pregnancy.
Sit down as much as possible
Even in the first trimester, it’s really important to sit down as much as possible to minimise potential risks to you and your baby. “Pregnancy hormones such as those aimed at relaxing you not only cause relaxation of the joints around the pelvis, aimed at preparing the body for childbirth, but also generally around the body,” explains Mr Simon Moyes, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon.
“This, combined with even a normal amount of weight gain will put additional strain on the joints during pregnancy. On top of this, the change in the body’s centre of gravity alters the posturing and gait, which can also contribute to joint pains.”
As well as reducing pressure on affected joints, Emma Brockwell, a Senior Physiotherapist with an interest in Women’s Health, highlights several other pregnancy-related issues that can be alleviated by sitting down:
- During pregnancy the body’s centre of gravity is altered which can affect your balance and increase your risk of falling. Falls will always put the baby and you at risk, and sitting will reduce this risk compared with standing
- Standing in the same position whilst pregnant can also cause dizziness and fainting because blood pools in the lower extremities, again increasing the risk of falls
- People barging and elbows digging in, whilst unlikely to injure the baby can be very uncomfortable to you and make you feel vulnerable. Taking a seat helps avoid this
- Water retention and swollen ankles is yet another symptom you are likely to experience so taking some load and sitting can help even the most swollen extremities
- Morning sickness is a very common symptom of pregnancy and can affect women throughout their pregnancy if they are suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Motion can trigger the sickness but it is easier to cope with it sitting down
Managing your sickness
Staying hydrated is extremely important during pregnancy, especially if you are suffering from sickness. Robyn Coetzee, Specialist Dietician at the London Bridge Hospital, offers some tips on how to reduce symptoms and make the journey a little more bearable:
- Take a cold bottle of water or diluted fruit juice to sip on during the journey. This will help to keep you cool and hydrated
- Take something to snack on if you have a long journey. Long periods without eating can make nausea worse. Plain biscuits, cereal bars and nuts all travel well and can be helpful to nibble on
- Make sure to wash your hands after travelling and before eating. A woman’s immunity drops slightly during pregnancy making it easier to pick up bugs and become sick from food contamination
Keep an eye on your posture
It’s important to be aware of your posture when you are commuting during pregnancy to avoid placing unnecessary strain on your body.
Emma Brockwell suggests these top posture tips:
- On the rare occasion that you may be spoilt for seat choice, choose the seat nearest to the door. This avoids the risk of falling if the train or tube moves suddenly before you have sat down.
- When sitting, sit with your shoulders back and neck long. As your bump gets bigger, most women will adopt postural adaptations, commonly leading to an increase in the curve at the small of your back which can cause lower back pain.
- Popping a spare jumper behind the small of your back can help support this change and decrease pain.
- Keep your knees in line with your hips when you are sitting and keep weight spread evenly through both hips.
- Crossing or widening your legs may feel more comfortable but can place unnecessary strain on pelvic and low back joints.
- If your journey is longer than 30 minutes, wriggle your toes and pump your ankles up and down frequently to prevent blood pooling at the bottom of your legs.