Moving to a larger house, better housing estate or to live with your family is something many parents do in preparation for the baby. However, moving house while pregnant may affect your newborn’s well-being, according to a study published by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health which involved about 30,000 women who shifted residence in the first trimester.
Moving house while pregnant: What are the risks?
The research had hinted at a negative impact of stress during early pregnancy on the baby’s health. The research looked at birth risks related to preterm birth, small-sized baby and low birth weight.
Many of the mothers who moved house were as young as 20 years, had low income and were less educated. Many had other children and some were unmarried. Some of them were likely to smoke. Putting these factors aside, data says moving house in the first-trimester impacts childbirth. Data analysis shows about a 37 percent increase in the risk of low birth weight, a 42 percent increase in the risk of premature birth and a 9 percent increase in the risk of smaller-sized babies.
However, since this is an observational study, the research has not established reasons for the outcome.
Stress during the early months of pregnancy causes biomechanical changes in the baby’s growth. As the results are not firmly explained, the study recommends expecting women to not panic. It also emphasises that there is no need to avoid moving house while pregnant altogether. You just need to take away the stressors.
Issues you may face moving house while pregnant
Below is a list of the various issues you might face moving house while pregnant according to medical experts, mothers and movers. We also have tips to mitigate the risks.
Extra production of the hormone Relaxin helps loosen ligaments during pregnancy. The body already handles extra weight, posture changes and water retention during pregnancy. The condition poses a risk of ligament tears if you are not careful. Backpain, joint problems, carpal tunnel syndrome are other risks when packing and lifting.
What to do: Use the knee and the hip joints while lifting things to relieve the back. Lift and move light and small weights rather than more at one go. Avoid lifting heavy objects.
The physical strain of moving house while pregnant can make it necessary to visit the doctor sooner than you imagined and might mean you won’t have time to go back to your old GP.
What to do: Prior to your move, ensure that you know the emergency services and other medical care available in your new neighbourhood. Also, understand the best routes to your OB-GYN’s clinic to ensure a more efficient way to get there should you need to.
At some point during your pregnancy,, you may feel fuzzy and forgetful—most people refer to this as the pregnancy brain. You may face mental fatigue and cognitive slow down while handling the million small things especially when moving house while pregnant.
What to do: Take Omega-3 rich food to help yourself as well as the baby. Sleep well to rest the over-crowded brain.
In preparation for the move, you will have to do a lot of packing and sorting at the same time. A huge clutter can give mental and physical stress. Trying to do a lot in a short time is another stressor.
What to do: Take time. Take breaks regularly and put your feet up when you rest. Plan and divide work. Sort and declutter first. Once you have rid yourself of the excess, packing the necessities will be easier.
Exposure to chemicals
Last-minute cleaning may expose you to strong cleaners. You may feel nauseous or unwell. The fresh paint fumes or sawdust in the new residence will be equally harmful.
What to do: Keep pregnancy-friendly products handy to clean. Let others pack things from the cleaning cupboard. Plan renovations such that they are over before you move into the new house.
Moving around and climbing
Falling is one of the most common accidents during pregnancy. Your centre of gravity shifts and you tend to lose balance. This is more probable if you are carrying weights or climbing up and down the staircases during a move.
What to do: Wear shoes that provide grip and support. Walk slowly and cautiously. If you are carrying things, step where you can see and be extra careful.
Moving house is a demanding activity. Closer to the move, you may end up packing and preparing for it till late at night. This will make you feel exhausted and you might experience signs of physical exhaustion like cramps.
On the day of the move, you might find yourself standing for long durations and supervising work will leave you tired and your feet are swollen. Dehydration is also a common problem and severe dehydration can harm both mum and baby.
What to do: Get lots of help, more than usual. This goes for prior packing plans. Look at all available options – family, friends, neighbours, cleaners, organisers and movers. Arrange a moving-day kit beforehand. Make sure it contains your medication, toiletries, electrolyte and hydration drinks. Pack some snacks and clothes too. Don’t forget your phone charger. You may keep some ice chips handy as you sweat more during pregnancy.
If you are having a baby and planning to move out of your house, it is better to do so early. It makes more sense to move before the baby arrives than after birth. When done carefully, moving house while pregnant should be fine. As long as you keep your medical care team in the loop and take the anxiety-causing factors at bay, you will be doing good.
This article is produced in collaboration with The Asian Parent Singapore.
Project Sidekicks is a movement that aims to help parents have healthy pregnancies while reducing stillbirth risks by presenting more informative content, fostering community support, and utilising technology.
To learn more about how you can play a part in reducing stillbirth rates in Southeast Asia by 10%, click here.