While traveling is tiring for everyone, pregnant travelers must be concerned about the potential risks and complications attached to it. With an active bladder, nausea and physical incapability of maneuvering you and your luggage, can be an exhausting experience. Pregnant women are not restricted from traveling unless there are any pregnancy-related complications. Hence, traveling during pregnancy can be less stressful with a little planning, precaution and a go-ahead from your consulting doctor.
Traveling in Different Stages of Pregnancy
The first trimester is usually the less preferred time for travel among pregnant women. With heavy nausea, vomiting and feeling extremely tired make traveling very difficult. And the risk of a miscarriage is high in the first trimester of your pregnancy. While traveling in your last trimester could be equally tiring and uncomfortable due to your growing belly, long durations of physical confinement and risks of preterm delivery.
In the second trimester, you will be relieved of nausea and morning sickness, making your travel experience less taxing. Hence the best time to travel during your pregnancy is in the second trimester with no nausea or a fully-grown belly. And mainly experiencing the best time of your pregnancy with the most energy and, lesser risk of complications.
In a summary cited by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (ACOG) Committee on Obstetric Practice, “The first ACOG recommendation states that pregnant women at significant risk for preterm labor or with placental abnormalities should avoid air travel16. The second ACOG recommendation states that pregnant women can safely fly up until 36 weeks of gestation5. Most commercial airlines have guidelines which are similar to the ACOG recommendations, with some permitting domestic travel until 36 weeks and international travel until 35 weeks gestation.”
Traveling by Air, Water or Road
As mentioned earlier, flying is not harmful to both the baby and the mother, unless you have any health issues or pregnancy complications. While traveling till your 35th week is safe, post that the chances of going into labor are very high. Long-distance travels can cause complications like blood clots, dehydration, and fatigue. Move every once a while, drink lots of water and wear support stockings for your leg swelling. Check with your doctors first and then the airlines to know their guidelines and policies related to pregnant travelers, to be in the know.
Long car journeys must be avoided as movement is restricted, causing discomfort, stiffness and reduced blood supply to your legs and lower back. If you still have to travel, stop regularly to stretch, keep the car well ventilated and strap on your seatbelt from under your belly to ensure you have a safe journey.
Cruises and ferry companies have the same restrictions and policies as airline companies on traveling post the 32nd week. However, cruises may have medical facilities and onboard services for pregnant travelers, so check before you book your tickets.
The risk of contracting diseases on your trip is high. According to the experts, “Get your practitioner’s OK before booking a trip to a high altitude. Get the go-ahead before venturing to any region requiring extra vaccinations (some may not be pregnancy-safe) as well as other areas that are hotbeds of potentially dangerous infections (including water-, food- and mosquito-borne diseases like the Zika virus). For information on traveler?s health, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
However, vaccines with live bacteria or viruses are usually not recommended to pregnant women, for its ability to harm the baby in the mother?s womb. Inactivated or non-live vaccines are usually prescribed to women for their risk-free protection. So, if you are planning to fly to a destination that requires inoculation, you must take your shots beforehand. Always check with your doctor or midwife for recommendations of the necessary vaccines for your travel.
Travel Medical Kit
Your travel medical kit should contain your prenatal vitamins as well as any prescription medication you are currently on or might require under special circumstances. In addition to these medicines, you should carry medication for common health issues such as diarrhea and vomiting but be sure to clear them with your doctor first. Problems like diarrhea and vomiting are likely to lead to dehydration so carry oral rehydration solution packs. If you?re flying, you can add anti-nausea bands and compression socks to your kit as these will help to prevent vomiting and encourage proper blood flow through your legs especially during long-haul flights.
Food & Drinks
Maintaining a proper diet while traveling is very important for pregnant mothers. Pack your baggage with the necessary food and supplements prescribed to you by your OB-GYN. Stomach upsets and diarrhea are common among travelers, so it is advisable to pack the necessary medicines. Eat well and drink plenty of water to keep your diet and nutrition in check for both you and the baby. Drink bottled water and eat hygienic food to avoid any complications or diseases. If you?re travelling by road and need to stop for a quick meal, avoid buffet-style meals and dine à la carte instead. Buffet foods are often left out for hours and are more likely to give you food poisoning. You should also avoid salads at restaurants as there is a risk of cross contamination during preparation. Pack plenty of healthy high-protein snacks such as yogurt, nuts and seeds or even small bowls of chilled fruit. This will ensure that you always have a healthy snack handy and you won?t be as tempted to binge on junk foods.
Travel Plan and Insurance
Plan your travel in advance to check for the medical facilities available throughout your travel and stay. This will help you stay rest assured that in the time of emergency, help is not delayed. At all times carry your prenatal documents to allow medical practitioners to know your case history in detail. Check for health insurances that cover your on-travel medical expenses. There are specific insurance plans for pregnant travelers, on overseas trips like medical evacuation in case of labor, supplemental policy coverage, etc. Apply for the right insurance plans to keep your mind off finances when you are caught in an emergency.