Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Pregnancy and Travel


Traveling while pregnant is generally considered safe as long as you do not have any complications.  After 35 weeks, it is recommended to consult your healthcare provider before traveling to be sure that there are no concerns when traveling.  The ideal time to travel is during your second trimester as you are generally out of the morning sickness stage from the first trimester, and you are several weeks from third trimester where you are more easily fatigued.  My second pregnancy I traveled a lot, especially towards the end of pregnancy, because of our location in Japan at the time and my husband being away in California.  I had no big issues with traveling during that time, except fatigue, which is expected during international travel and with a toddler.

I have compiled some tips for traveling that may make things easier and safer as you travel during pregnancy.

Traveling On Land
-It is essential that you wear a seatbelt every time you ride in a car.  Be sure to use both the lap and shoulder belts for the best protection for both you and your baby.
-Keep the airbags turned on.  The safety benefits outweigh any potential risk to you and your baby.
-Buses tend to have narrow aisles and small restrooms, so it can prove to be more challenging.  Try to remain seated while the bus is moving.  If you have to get up, be sure to use the handrail or seats to keep your balance.
-Trains usually have more room to navigate and walk, but the restrooms are usually quite small.  Use the rails and seat backs to walk around while the train is moving.
-Try to limit the amount of time you are cooped up in the car, bus, or train.
-Use rest stops often to take short walks and to do stretches to keep the blood circulating.

Traveling By Air
-Most airlines allow pregnant women to travel through their eighth month.  Traveling during your ninth month is usually allowed if you have permission from your healthcare provider.  Check the airline policy to see what their cutoff is.  I did not have trouble finding an airline that let me fly when I wanted to and had a friend who was evacuated from Japan when she was 38 weeks, and she was able to fly internationally with no problems (although not all airlines would let you fly that late in pregnancy).
-Most airlines have narrow aisles and small bathrooms.  Make sure you are using seat backs and rails when walking around the airplane and using the restroom.  There is always potential for turbulence that could shake the plane.
-Choosing an aisle seat may be a good idea, so that you can get up and walk around more easily.  This way you can jump up to use the bathroom or stretch your legs or back more easily.
-Try to travel on major airlines with pressurized cabins and avoid smaller planes.  If you must ride in a smaller plane, avoid going above 7,000 feet.
-During your flight, try to walk around about every hour.  Stretching your legs will lessen your risk of blood clot formation and will also make you more comfortable.  This also decreases swelling that may happen from sitting for so long.
-Carry some light snacks to help prevent nausea.
-Take the time to eat healthy and balanced meals during your trip.  This will boost your energy level and keep you feeling good.  Lots of fiber and fluids is a good idea as constipation is a common traveling problem whether pregnant or not.
-Get plenty of sleep and rest often.


Traveling By Sea
-One thing to think about is that the motion of the boat may accentuate morning sickness or make you feel nauseous all over again.
-Make sure that the cruise line provides a healthcare provider on the ship in case of complications.
-Review the route and port-of-calls to identify if there is access to any medical facilities if needed.
-Double check any medications for seasickness and make sure they are approved for women who are pregnant and that there is no risk for baby.
-Seasickness bands use acupressure to help prevent upset stomach and may be a good alternative to medication.

Traveling Internationally
-The considerations used for international travel is pretty much the same as domestic, but there are a few more things to think about when overseas.  Discuss any factors you need to consider with your healthcare provider in order to keep yourself and your baby safe.
-Of course, right now, pregnant women should avoid going to areas where there is risk of Zika virus as this is very dangerous for pregnancy.  These areas include Mexico, The Caribbean, Central America, Pacific Islands, and South America.
-Discuss immunizations with your health care provider as well and carry a copy of your health records with you.
-With international travel, you may be exposed to diseases that are rare here in the U.S., but are common in the country you visit.  Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to find safety information along with immunization facts related to your travel.  (Www.cdc.gov). Do your research!
-Diarrhea is a common concern when traveling overseas because you may not be used to the germs and organisms found in the food and water of other countries.  This can lead to a problem of dehydration.  Here are some tips to avoid diarrhea and help keep you safe:
   -Drink plenty of bottled water.
   -Used canned juices or soft drinks as alternatives
   -Make sure the milk is pasteurized
   -Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables unless they have been cooked or can be peeled (such as an orange or banana)
   -Make certain that all meat and fish has been cooked completely; if you are unsure, do not eat it
-I traveled a good amount internationally while pregnant as I lived in Japan during my second pregnancy.  Some of these tips do not apply to industrialized countries, but make sure you do your research and know about the country you are going into.

General Traveling Tips
-Dress comfortably in loose cotton clothing and wear comfortable shoes.
-Take your favorite pillow.
-Plan for plenty of rest stops, restroom breaks, and stretches.
-Carry snack foods with you.
-If you are traveling any distance, make sure to carry a copy of your prenatal records.
-Wear your seatbelt and take other safety measures.
-Enjoy your trip!




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