Posture and Position
DON'T: Lock your legs or stay in the same position for your entire commute.
DO: Try simple stretches or any sort of movement to keep your blood flowing.
"I can't tell you how many patients have told me how they've fainted on the bus or subway," comments 20-year veteran Bellinson, whose practice draws many pregnant women from the Manhattan area. Pregnant women who stand in the same position for a long time are susceptible to dizziness and fainting because blood pools in the lower part of their bodies, depriving the brain of oxygen and putting pregnant women at risk of blacking out. Dr. Ashton equates the blood flow to the sand in an hourglass. The longer you stand, the more likely it is that blood will pool in the lower part of your body, just as sand drains to the bottom of the hourglass. While your baby is not at risk from lack of blood flow or oxygen, you are at risk of serious falls.
To alleviate blood-flow problems, make sure to move around as much as possible. If you're stuck in traffic, try wiggling your toes, moving your feet, or stretching your calf muscles to get your blood circulating. Bellinson also recommends maternity support stockings to help maintain adequate blood flow.
DON'T: Wait to be offered a seat on the subway or bus.
DO: Ask for someone to give up a seat if none are available.
"You can't always count on a polite person to give up a seat," says Dr. Ashton, "but you shouldn't hesitate to ask for one." Sitting will make your commute much more comfortable, and you'll be less likely to fall or black out.
DON'T: Drive without a safety net.
DO: Drive safely.
If you're exhausted or drowsy at the end of the day, consider taking a break at work before heading home, carpooling with coworkers, or using public transportation. Bellinson says pregnant women can "safely drink a cup of tea or coffee with caffeine in the morning if they are concerned about fatigue."
Beyond your own driving habits, you should also be vigilant with general safety strategies such as always taking your cell phone with you and letting someone know what route you'll be taking, in case of an emergency. (You may also want to stash pepper spray in your purse, as pregnant women can be targets for robberies.)
Commuting while pregnant can be uncomfortable, but by following a few simple suggestions, your commute can be a lot smoother and safer.