With proper planning and advice, travel during pregnancy is not a problem. To ensure that you and your baby remain healthy during travel, you need to consider the stage of your pregnancy, your current physical condition, and any restrictions or problems you and your doctor have discussed.
Also, talk to your doctor about visits or tests you need to schedule, so that you are not away during the time these are to take place. Prenatal visits, scheduled ultrasound tests, glucose screening tests or Rh immunoglobulin injections (for those whose blood type is Rh negative).
Assuming your doctor says it is OK for you to travel, be sure you prepare a complete list of contact names and phone numbers to take with you. If you have problems during your trip and need care or attention, health care professionals or other travelers can ensure that you get appropriate care.
This information should include:
- a.) Your name, age and blood type, and any medications you are taking, as well as your health care insurance information. Also include your due date, the date of your most recent doctor appointment, any allergies you may have to medication or foods, and any immunizations you may have had before travel.
- b.) Your doctor’s name and contact information”Any doctor’s name and phone number you may be using while you are away from homeEmergency contact information for your family (include more than one contact)Be sure you have ample supply of prescription and over the counter medications, and prenatal vitamins.
Make certain that your health insurance polity covers pregnancy, delivery and other complications during travel and be sure to double check any restrictions that may apply to travel in foreign countries.
Check the availability of travel insurance on your airline, or other carrier, to be sure that you are covered if you have to miss part of, or your entire, trip because of pregnancy related health problems or if you incur emergency expenses during your trip. Ask if this insurance covers complications from pregnancy and emergency transport.
Carry a cell phone, especially if you’re traveling alone, and be sure that your cell phone will function in any foreign country to which you may be traveling.
You can plan normal activities while you are traveling, but understand that you are likely to get tired m ore quickly when you are pregnancy, so plan for extra rest during each travel day. Take a relaxing bath, use room service, sit on the beach or watch an in-room movie.
Eating healthy is important, and your schedule is likely to be different on the road, so take nuts, dry fruit, and cheese and crackers with you. Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydration, especially if you are flying to your destination.
Take your bathroom schedule into consideration. As an expectant mother, you are likely to need to use the bathroom often. Don’t plan vacation or travel activities that require you to be out in the middle of nowhere, away from facilities. And plan extra time for ‘pit stops’ if you are traveling by car.
Remember that your feet and legs are likely to swell during pregnancy if you are sitting for long periods of time. Wear comfortable, expandable shoes and socks and elevate your feet whenever possible. Get up and walk around whenever you can on a plane, train or bus and if you are traveling by car, be sure to walk around a bit when you stop to use the bathroom.
If you are traveling to a foreign country, you and your doctor will have to consider any vaccines you will require to determine whether they are safe to administer during pregnancy. Avoid live vaccines like varicella for chicken pox, measles, mumps, and rubella. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report no fetal damage from live vaccines, but they admit that their information is limited, so these vaccines should still be considered risky. Vaccines for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, and tetanus, are safe and recommended for pregnant women at risk of getting these diseases.
In many developing countries local healthcare and the quality of available food and water are questionable. It is best to avoid travel to these countries while you are pregnant.
If you are traveling to a hot, humid destination, avoid yeast infections by wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothes, and cotton underwear. Change out of wet bathing suits as soon as you can, and talk to your doctor about carrying a tube of anti-fungal cream, just in case you need it.
Avoid risky activities, especially late in pregnancy: snow skiing, water skiing, surfing, horseback riding, parasailing, scuba diving, water slides and some more extreme amusement park rides. You may also wish to avoid very hot saunas and hot tubs, as they elevate your temperate beyond what is normal in a regular bath.
You can walk and hike at low altitudes, swim in calm waters (not in heavy surf or rapids), ride a stationary or regular bike, exercise in the hotel gym (if you have been used to exercising before and during your pregnancy) and jog if you jogged before pregnancy. Talk to your doctor about your planned activities before you leave for travel or vacation.
Be smart! If you start to feel tired, overheated, dizzy or uncomfortable, slow down, rest, take a break or stop what you are doing.
Travel, especially to other time zones, can throw your eating schedule off and cause more problems with bloating, and indigestion. Try eating several small meals during the day. Don’t eat close to bedtime (allow 2-3 hours to digest your food). Sleep with your upper body propped on pillows. Avoid alcohol, carbonated beverages, caffeine, chocolate, acidic foods (citrus fruits, tomatoes, and vinegar), and spicy foods. Try to eat high-fiber foods to avoid constipation and bloat, and stay active to keep your digestive tract moving.
Avoid motion sickness by sitting in the front seat of the car and keeping the window open to get plenty of fresh air. In an airplane, sit over the wing, and on a boat, try to stay on the deck and focus on the horizon.
You can try wearing a specially designed wristband to deliver mild electrical current to a nerve at an acupuncture point on the underside of your wrist. Studies show that this device helps some pregnant women with morning sickness and motion sickness.
If you follow these suggestions, you should have a pleasant and healthy trip.
And, remember, that if your doctor advises against travel, you are wise to follow her/his suggestion. It is best to put off the trip for another time after the baby is born, rather than to risk your health and the health of your unborn child!