Traveling Pregnant

We all know that pregnancy is a healthy and normal condition, and while taking special care during the nine months, a complication-fee pregnancy should not keep you at home. Gone are the days when we referred to this time as confinement! Here are guidelines on how to travel safely while carrying your own little passenger.

Go during your 2nd trimester

Your second trimester is widely thought to be the best time to travel. This is usually your most comfortable period as nausea should be finished and great “bulkiness” has not set in. Standard guidelines for domestic and international flights state that they do not recommend travel after the 8th month. Short flights may allow passengers in their final weeks but you must carry a letter dated within 72 hours of your flight in which your physician states you are fit to fly. All those beyond the 28th week should carry a similar letter. International flights restrict women carrying twins or more beyond the 32nd week.

Speak to your doctor

Your personal medical history should be considered as your travels plans are made; your doctor will be honest with you about the safety or risks she sees. Ask her for a copy of your file just in case you need it, as well as a recommendation if known, for an OB/GYN in the city of your destination.

Avoid health risk areas and immunizations

Travel in places like Africa and India require yellow fever and other shots that are not recommended during pregnancy. Common sense tells you to avoid areas where the risk of disease is high. There is no need to complicate a normal pregnancy with dysentery, malaria or hepatitis.

Radiation? Oxygen?

Exposure to radiation during flight is at such a miniscule level that unless you are a professional pilot or flight attendant, this is not a concern. The metal detectors used by security are not radiating you. Only your luggage passes through x-ray machines. Though air travel is tiring, there is no evidence that it harms the development of a fetus. Normal passenger planes are supplied with adequate oxygen levels to keep mother and baby safe.

Stay hydrated!

Dehydration is a normal side effect of air travel, so make sure to drink lots of water. An 8 oz. glass of water each hour is a good idea. Obviously, you want to avoid alcohol and any stomach-irritating foods.

Move around!

Make sure you book an aisle seat as you will want to use the toilet more frequently given the combination of pregnancy and lots of drinking water. You will also want to walk around as much as you can. Especially further into the pregnancy, you need to stretch and move to keep good circulation for both yourself and baby. Follow the instructions for stretching in your seat and give your feet as much room as possible so that you can rotate your ankles and flex and point your feet. Should you be so fortunate as to be next to an empty seat, elevate your feet for stretches of time. Don’t sit cross-legged.

Walk the terminal during layovers. Keep your carry-on luggage to an easy-to-manage rolling bag and walk 15 to 30 minutes through the corridors. When you do sit, put your feet up. (If you are traveling by car, plan to stop every couple of hours to walk and stretch.)

Seat belt safety

Always wear your seat belt when you are seated on the plane. A sudden patch of turbulence can jostle you severely. Keep the belt snug but not tight across your pelvis and under the bump of your abdomen. Never fasten the belt across the baby.

Take healthy snacks

Nausea and exhaustion are normal in pregnancy but protein can help. Don’t leave it to the airline to provide you with nutritional meals when you need them; nuts, cereal bars and apples travel easily. If you take yogurt, don’t forget a spoon, and don’t forget that you can only have 3 oz. of liquid in any one container in the cabin.

Finally, pamper yourself

Plan for naps and a slower pace. Enjoy those big hotel tubs, (because who has time for that at home?). Make use of the pool (a good form of exercise especially in a city you don’t know). And, buy yourself a new maternity outfit for your travels!


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