Planning to take your belly on the road? Here are some tips on staying comfortable whether you're travelling by plane, train, or car.
Before you leave home • Discuss your travel plans with your doctor or midwife. If you're experiencing a high-risk pregnancy or your due date is fast approaching, your caregiver may want you to stay relatively close to home (e.g. within a three hour drive) in case some complications arise or your baby decides to make an unscheduled early arrival. Even if your caregiver gives you the go-ahead to venture a little farther a field, she may want you to take a copy of your prenatal record with you. That way, if you unexpectedly run into complications while you're travelling, the doctor on call at whatever hospital or clinic you end up visiting will have the lowdown on your medical and obstetrical history.
• Make sure that your health coverage is adequate if you will be travelling out of province or out of country. Most health insurance policies for travellers do not apply to women who are more than seven months pregnant, so be sure to let your travel agent know about your pregnancy when you're purchasing such coverage.
• Dress in layers of comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. As your prenatal instructor no doubt told you, the hormonal changes of pregnancy cause your body temperature to shoot up while you're pregnant. If you make the mistake of hopping on board an airplane wearing a long-sleeved wool dress, you won't have the option of removing a layer or two if you become overheated (unless, of course, you intend to carry your entire maternity wardrobe in your carry-on luggage or you're willing to pull a Demi Moore at 20,000 feet).
• Pack some healthy snacks to enjoy while you're on the road. Rather than having to rely on french fries and other fast foods while you're travelling -- not exactly the most stomach-friendly cuisine if your world is being rocked by morning sickness! -- you may prefer to eat fresh fruit, granola bars, and healthier (and less nauseating) foods instead. And don't forget to tote along a purse-sized bottle of water if you're going to be travelling by plane: you'll want to have your own ready supply of water on hand to counter the dehydrating effects of air travel just in case the beverage cart doesn't make it down the aisle as quickly as you might like.
• Bring a small pillow or rolled-up towel with you. Placing it in the small of your back will help to reduce the amount of back discomfort you experience as a result of sitting in one position for prolonged periods of time.
If you're travelling by car
• Set a realistic travel itinerary for yourself. Your days of whizzing down the highway for hours at a time with not so much as a single bathroom break are a thing of the past -- at least for now. In fact, if you're like most pregnant women, you're likely to find yourself mapping out your route based on washroom availability -- the ultimate roadside attraction at this stage in your life.
• If your car has airbags, you'll want to make sure that there is at least a ten inch gap between your belly and the dash. (Hint: You may have to move your seat back a little if you're mega-pregnant.) And while we're talking positioning, here's something important to keep in mind if you're the driver: you should tilt the steering wheel downward so that it's far as possible from your belly to minimize the risk of injury to your baby in the event of a car accident.
• Wear your seatbelt. Your seatbelt should be fastened across your hips and underneath your belly (as opposed to across your belly). This will help to reduce the risk of injury to you and your baby in the event of an automobile accident. If the seatbelt has a shoulder belt, make sure that it is positioned between your breasts. (Hint: If the shoulder belt is chaffing your neck, try moving your seat back a little or purchasing a seatbelt pad. That usually does the trick.)
If you're travelling by plane
• Make sure you're clear about airline policies concerning pregnant travellers before you book your flight. Policies vary from airline to airline, but most carriers require some sort of doctor's certificate from any pregnant woman who is travelling during the mid- to late third trimester.
• If you're heading to exotic locales, make sure that any immunizations that are required can be safely administered during pregnancy. It's best to avoid live vaccines and certain other types of vaccines during pregnancy.
• Get out of your seat and move around whenever the opportunity presents itself. This will help to minimize leg cramps and ankle swelling. (Don't worry about setting the alarm on your watch to remind yourself to do this: your bladder will encourage you to make washroom treks on a regular basis!) If you end up being confined to your seat for a prolonged period of time, do calf stretches or rotate your ankles -- whatever you can reasonably do to stretch your legs while you're stuck in one spot.
• If you're prone to varicose veins, you might want to pick up a pair of support hose (vascular tightening stockings) from your local medical supply store before you hop on board the plane. Flying increases your risk of developing varicose veins.
Above all, have fun and enjoy your trip. Bon voyage!
Ann Douglas is the author of The Mother of All Pregnancy Books, The Mother of All Baby Books, and numerous other books about pregnancy and parenting. You can contact Ann via her website at www.having-a-baby.com.
Dainty and flavourful, everyone loves to indulge in tiny bites of traditional tea sandwiches. Though they appear finicky to make, these tea sandwiches are easy to assemble and entirely make-ahead.
Pinwheel Sandwiches Trim crusts from 5 slices white or whole wheat sandwich loaf, cut Pullman-style. (Ask bakery to cut sandwich loaf horizontally, or Pullman style.) Using rolling pin, flatten slices slightly. Spread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread with filling.
Place 1 asparagus spear (or 2 baby gherkins) along 1 short end of each. Starting at asparagus, roll up tightly without squeezing. Wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour. With serrated knife, trim ends; cut each roll into 6 slices.
Makes 30 pieces. Pinwheel Sandwich recipe: Curried Egg Salad Triangle Sandwiches Spread 16 thin slices whole wheat or white sandwich bread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread filling evenly over 8 of the slices. Top with remaining slices, pressing lightly. Place on rimmed baking sheet and cover with damp tea towel; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Trim off crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces.
Makes 32 pieces. Triangle Sandwich recipe: Ham Pickle Spread Square Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above except use 8 thin slices white and 8 thin slices whole wheat sandwich bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters.
Makes 32 pieces.Square Sandwich recipe: Pimiento Cheese Spread Finger Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above. Cut each sandwich lengthwise into 4 fingers.
Makes 32 pieces. Finger Sandwich recipe: Tuna Olive Salad
Choose the best-quality bread. Never serve end slices. Freezing bread before cutting and then spreading makes for easier handling.
Bread should be lightly buttered no matter what the filling. Butter should be at room temperature before spreading. Sandwiches will not become limp and soggy as readily if you spread butter right to edge of bread.
Cut crusts off bread with long, sharp knife after (not before) assembling sandwiches. This keeps everything neater.
Since tea sandwiches should be delicate, cut each sandwich into thirds or quarters or in half diagonally. Or use cookie cutters to cut into decorative shapes.
Watching the fiery health-care debates south of the border over the past few years, we Canadians may feel a growing urge to proudly wave our flag for all we're doing right. Last March, Candian Living's very own medical columnist, Dr. Danielle Martin, a practicing family physician and vice-president of medical affairs and health system solutions at Women's College Hospital, appeared in front of the U.S. Senate to share lessons gleaned from Canada's single-payer health-care system. The Senate was forced to contemplate the underlying principle that sets our system apart: equity. There's a lot we have to be proud of.
"Health care should be based on need rather than ability to pay," says Dr. Martin. "That's the bedrock of our system." By paying for every citizen, we end up spending just two-thirds of what Americans pay for their limited-access system, per capita. "And we actually provide quite good care," says Dr. Martin, adding that our outcomes for cancer and heart disease are similar or even better than those in the U.S. Plus, as she pointed out to one senator, we don't have 45,000 citizens per year die while waiting for treatment. Not that our system is perfect. There are still ways to make it more equitable.
1. Improve coverage of medications.
Back in the '50s and '60s, when Medicare was in its infancy, most health care was delivered in hospitals, which meant that prescription drugs weren't a significant cost for most people. "Times have really changed," says Dr. Martin. "Many Canadians are living a long time with chronic medical conditions now, and they need to take medications long-term." In the past 50 years, drug costs have become quite a concern. In fact, a 2012 study found that one in 10 Canadians struggles to pay for medication, and many fail to fill prescriptions or take them as often as directed.
2. Deliver consistent access.
"There's a role for the federal government to play in ensuring that Canadians can count on access to similar services, no matter where they live," says Dr. Martin. In March, Canada's Health Care Accord, which united all of the provinces and territories under common goals, expired. There's a huge variation in coverage between provinces, and Dr. Martin says we need national leadership to ensure consistent care.
3. Ensure that every Canadian has access to high-quality primary care.
"No Canadian should be without a family doctor, and no Canadian should have to wait six weeks for an appointment with one," says Dr. Martin. Currently, where you live impacts your access to primary care. "It's not so much about the number of doctors, it's about the distribution—where they're practicing, and how many are choosing primary care over specialties." To solve the problem, Dr. Martin says we need bigger teams of doctors, nurses and other health-care providers, rather than individual practices. "It's about being linked in â€¨to a bigger system."
For more advice from Dr. Danielle Martin, read what she has to say about these 3 aging myths.
This story was originally titled "Care That's Fair in the July 2014 issue.
Conquer your closet with clever tips that will allow you to add to your shoe collection without losing your mind.
1. Sliding drawers
Multiple open-face pull-out drawers help compartmentalize items based on season and style, making it easier to keep folded items in check without them spilling over.
2. Custom order
Install an adjustable closet system that allows for modifications (hanging height, shelving and drawer space) and includes a shoe system.
3. Group therapy
To give your closet an orderly appearance, use one style of hangers. Also, group clothing by category, like colour or style.
4. Reach for the top
Rotate wardrobe staples seasonally and designate top-shelf storage for rarely used or offseason pieces. Use up-to-the-ceiling shelves to maximize space and discourage boxes from pooling on the ground.
How one woman found love with someone who had lost it.
After my husband and I separated, I didn't think I would ever fall in love again. I had two little children and couldn't imagine being in another relationship. I felt unlucky in love, as if perhaps I didn't deserve to be happy. Besides, I hadn't dated in 15 years and, now, didn't know where to begin. But six months after I separated, a mom I'd just met called to ask if I'd be interested in going on a blind date with her friend James*, a single dad who had recently lost his wife to cancer.
By then, every single person I'd met had baggage, including me, so it never occurred to me that dating a widower would be different from dating anyone else. I didn't even really consider the possibility that a first date might lead to a second. But from the get-go, I could tell James was different. The conversation flowed easily, he was funny and interesting…we ended up going on that second date, then a third. When he asked me to date him exclusively a few weeks later, I was ecstatic— but a few months into our relationship, something weird started happening. There were a series of days when, inexplicably, he wasn't himself. He was quiet and sad and didn't want to talk.
I knew what it felt like when a man wasn't interested in me anymore—that's how my marriage had ended. So when he would clam up and be distant, I had a familiar sickening feeling. We met for a drink at a quiet neighbourhood bar, where I cut to the chase. "I'm sorry, James, but I don't know what to do when you won't talk to me. I can't do it," I told him, too sad to drink my wine. I hoped ending things would spare him the trouble of dumping me and spare myself the pain of having yet another person leave me. I was beside myself: I couldn't believe things were ending when everything had been going so well.
Only now, James was ready to talk. "I've mentioned that my wife died two years ago, and I'm sorry for not being able to communicate with you better. Certain days of the year are hard for me, and I've just got through some very difficult back-to-back anniversaries," he explained, his eyes fixed on his lap. "Some days, I don't want to talk, but I'm feeling better again and I don't want you to take it personally. I'm just trying to cope as best I can; it has nothing to do with you. I really like you and I like where this relationship is going."
He looked up into my eyes and stretched his arms across the table. His warm hands enveloped my own. It hadn't occurred to me that he was going through a rough patch; because of my own history, I assumed it was something I had done. I didn't yet know enough about his life or about grief to understand his personality or the dates that would be difficult for him. When he communicated his feelings, I felt as though I understood him, like we were connecting on a deeper level. I realized then that this man was different kinder, deeper, stronger and more compassionate—than anyone else I was likely to meet. As a newly single mother struggling to get back on my feet, I had my own set of issues and insecurities; dating a widower on top of it all wouldn't be easy, but I had fallen in love. I had to try.
My situation isn't as unique as you might think. In 2016, about 1.83 million widowed people were living in Canada, and many of them are finding their way back onto the dating market. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in the United States, 19 percent of those who are currently divorced, separated or widowed report using online dating. In fact, Match.com saw an 8.3 percent increase in the proportion of widowed users in Canada from 2015 to 2016.
Rebecca Cooper Traynor, a Toronto matchmaker who founded Match Me Canada, has seen a similar trend. "I'd say that about 10 percent of my clients are widowers," she says; most of them are 55 and older, but some are only in their 30s and 40s. And at the same time as this group has become more interested in dating, she has also seen a shift in perceptions about them. "I've noticed that my other clients are more open to dating a widower now than when I started my business eight years ago," she says. "Some people are tired of dating divorcés and hearing about their anger and resentment on a date. They want to meet someone in a different space, someone who knows how to love."
A delicate balance As in any relationship, James and I have challenges—but some of the things we face are specific to his widowed status. For example, in the five years since we went on our blind date, I've learned to give James space on significant dates, such as on his late wife's birthday, their wedding anniversary and the day she died. Since our near-breakup early on, I've marked those days on my calendar so I can call to say I'm thinking of him and see if I can help. Being in tune with your partner's needs is often the best thing you can do, says Roy Ellis, a grief counsellor with the Nova Scotia Health Authority in Halifax. "Ask your partner what you can do to make those tough days better. Your awareness itself can be a lovely gesture. Maybe you don't need to be involved and you can give your partner the space he or she needs to continue that grief work," he says. "That can be a gift in and of itself."
I've also learned that, contrary to the proverbial "five stages of grief," how we mourn doesn't fit into easy steps. In fact, the psychiatrist who first identified those stages, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, never intended them to apply to the living—her research was on people who were facing their own deaths. In other words, watching for signs of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance is no way to tell whether a mourner is ready to move forward.
Rather, many grief specialists champion the "companioning" philosophy espoused by author, counsellor and educator Alan Wolfelt. They believe that the process is individual and that bereaved people tend to know when they are ready to move forward. According to this model of grief, mourners have six needs that must be met in order to reconcile their loss: acknowledging the reality of the death; embracing the pain of the loss; remembering the person who died; developing a new self-identity; searching for meaning; and receiving ongoing support from others. But this isn't a checklist and there's no time frame for completion, or a particular order in which they must happen.
"The companioning model of bereavement distinguishes between grieving—the internal experiencing of pain—and mourning, which is the outward expression of that pain," says Maureen Theberge, a psychologist at Viewpoint Counselling Psychology in Calgary. "Grief isn't something you 'get over' any more than you 'get over' love, but those who can mourn well will have a better outcome for moving forward. Having a way to remember the dead, to honour and acknowledge them, especially when the mourner has children, can be healing. It's meaningful and may offer comfort."
Finding your way For the first few years, James commemorated special days only with his close family, but recently, I've been invited to participate by attending an annual memorial service and being with his family to remember his wife's birthday. I'm happy to support him in this way, much as he has supported me through my divorce—but the truth is, it can be hard for me emotionally. Sometimes, I'm sad for days afterward. I want to weep thinking about what an unfair loss James, his family and his wife suffered. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for his wife to be diagnosed with a terminal illness as a young adult, to hear she was going to die. But I've come to understand that grieving is a healthy sign. Even if the process hurts, it brings James' family and friends together. I've seen how remembering and celebrating his wife provides them with strength to continue on. We have been companioning without realizing it.
As much as I grieve with James and his family on sad days, I've also had a hard time coping with his loss on great days. It's embarrassing to admit, but sometimes, I've felt guilty for dating James. I've seen his late wife's beautiful photos, can sense how wonderful she was and feel how much she was loved—how much she still is loved. I've dissolved in tears, overwhelmed that James and I are on a romantic vacation together when he should have been with the love of his life, his wife. How was I ever going to fill her shoes? How would I measure up? What if I couldn't?
As difficult as these feelings are, experts say they're normal. Unlike dating a divorcé, Theberge says dating a widower can feel threatening because the person's partner didn't choose to leave; rather, "death tore them apart." Logically, however, jealousy doesn't help. "It's irrational," says Theberge. "You are not in competition with the deceased. Your relationship is new and unique."
Just because those feelings are irrational doesn't make them any less real, and it's important to deal with them, says Ellis. He suggests looking within at why you're feeling insecure. "We are each responsible for our self-esteem and self-love. Take stock, find out what's hurting and share it with your partner, but not in an accusing way," he says.
Overcoming feelings of insecurity isn't easy. As Ellis says, "You have to learn to integrate the presence of the deceased in a new relationship the way you don't in divorce. With divorce, you're out; with death, you've got to come to terms with the fact the other person is still loved and recognized." But while the challenges are different, "it doesn't mean you can't have a successful relationship."
Talk therapy In order to do that, though, you have to communicate. I knew I had to tell James how I was feeling, but it was difficult to have that conversation, to admit my insecurities. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I felt awash with shame. But James was patient and loving and told me his wife wanted him to be happy. Talking to him made me realize I couldn't change his past, but I could have a future with him—and I was helping him move forward, which is what his wife wanted.
Over time, I've grown to believe that we don't have only one soul mate for life. It's possible to love more than one person. When you have a second child, after all, you don't stop loving the first; you make more room in your heart. And now I see that grieving is good, that talking about fears and sadness can be healing. I know not to compare, not to think of myself as an inadequate replacement for the woman he really wanted.
James and I know too well that life can be fleeting. We understand that time is precious. We are taking things slowly—not rushing to combine families or get married—but when I look into his eyes, when I hold his hand on good days and bad, I know we are moving forward together.
Success factors Five tips from the experts for building a healthy relationship with a widower.
1. Communicate, even if it hurts, says Suzanne Farmer, a psychologist (candidate register) at Cornerstone Psychological Services in Halifax. "There will be times when your partner will think about his deceased spouse and miss her; there will be times when you might feel threatened or hurt. You have to be able to communicate these feelings."
2 Be open-hearted and understanding. "Sometimes your partner might experience bursts of grief, and you have to let him be sad and feel his pain. It's normal. It's not a judgment about you," says Calgary-based psychologist Maureen Theberge.
3. See your partner as a whole person. His experience of loving someone and having that person die is just part of his story.
4. Be ready for sudden mood swings. "Sex and emotional intimacy can sometimes trigger upwellings of grief and emotion," says Roy Ellis, a grief counsellor in Halifax. The best way to prepare yourself for the possibility is to have discussions about intimacy in advance.
5. Be open to a new life. "Your partner will never 'get over' the loss— he will be forever changed—but it doesn't mean life can't be beautiful again," says Theberge.