Smoking, Alcohol, Work, Sex & Travel
Smoking is particularly harmful to unborn and newborn babies, as well as their mothers. It is known to increase the risk of miscarriage, premature labour, poor growth in the womb and bleeding during pregnancy. Smoking is also associated with an increased incidence of cot death and childhood asthma. QUITline provides useful information to help you stop smoking – call 137 848 or visit www.quitnow.gov.au
Drinking excessive alcohol during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. Your baby could also be born with fetal alcohol syndrome, which can result in slow growth before or after birth and mental disabilities. As it is not currently known whether there is a safe level of alcohol to consume during pregnancy, the National Health and Medical Research Council advises women that it is best not to drink at all when pregnant.
If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy and work in an area where there are no health hazards, you can continue to work until the onset of labour. If you have pregnancy complications, are pregnant with twins or triplets, or have a physically demanding job then you should consider ceasing work earlier.
As long as your pregnancy is proceeding normally, you can have sex as often as you like. However you may not always want to. In the first trimester hormones, fatigue and nausea may sap your sexual desire. During the second trimester, increased blood flow to your sexual organs and breasts may rekindle your desire for sex. By the third trimester, weight gain, back pain and other symptoms may again dampen your enthusiasm for sex. As long as you’re comfortable, most sexual positions are safe during pregnancy. As your pregnancy progresses, experiment to find what works best.
Most airlines allow women to fly up to 36 weeks of gestation (and even later for short domestic flights), but check with the individual airline. To avoid blood clots forming in the deep calf veins in your legs you should stay hydrated and get out of your seat periodically to move your legs. Inflight magazines have examples of leg exercises you should perform while seated. This advice also applies to long car journeys. The use of supportive anti-clot stockings (available at pharmacies) and avoiding restrictive clothing may also be helpful. When travelling overseas you should consider the quality of nearby hospital facilities. Ensure your travel insurance covers pregnancy complications and take a copy of your obstetric record with you.
Pregnant women should continue wearing standard seat belts during pregnancy. The lap belt should be placed across the hips and below the womb, and the shoulder belt between the breasts and to the side of the womb.
The average weight gain in pregnancy is 11.5 – 16 kg for a woman of normal weight. If you are underweight you should aim to gain more weight during your pregnancy and if you are overweight you should aim to gain less weight.
Healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies should continue to exercise during pregnancy. Exercise decreases the risk of pre-eclampsia and reduces the risk of diabetes in pregnancy for overweight women. Brisk walking and swimming are low-impact forms of exercise that can be continued throughout pregnancy.
The information contained is not meant to replace medical advice. Should you have any questions or concerns regarding your health, please contact your health care professional.