Pregnant & planning to travel? Here’s what you need to know
So you’re pregnant and determined to do it all right. You’re going to make sure your little ‘being’ is safe and nurtured, and definitely not do anything that could endanger his well-being while he’s growing snugly in your womb. But does that mean you can’t travel for the next nine months? Sabine Warren spoke to GP Dr Detlev Venter and got some tips to make your pre-baby getaways safe and comfortable.
It’s a given that you will make certain adjustments to your lifestyle while you are carrying that precious little bundle around. Travel, however, can continue, especially if you have a low-risk pregnancy. Just do it wisely, and listen to your body. You may need to adjust a few more things, or be a bit more cautious, but there’s certainly no need to be homebound for nine months.
When to travel
The ideal time for travel is the middle trimester, weeks 13 to 27, as the risk of miscarriage and pre-term labour are now at the lowest, and chances are that morning sickness and nausea have abated.
You will also probably not yet be feeling uncomfortable due to the size of the developing baby. Your energy levels should also be higher during these weeks, emotions have settled down, and your sex drive may have returned, all of which could contribute to a much-needed, relaxing holiday.
By the third trimester the nesting instinct usually kicks in and moms-to-be often prefer to stay home.
Where to go?
Destinations where you can trust the food and water supply, preferably, otherwise ensure that you take the necessary precautions. And definitely not a malaria area.
Prophylactics during pregnancy are most certainly not advised, and malaria areas are generally not recommended by paediatricians until the age of five. You will also want to opt for a country with good medical facilities, just in case they’re required.
What to avoid
Also, don’t try doing the high-risk, adrenalineactivities that you regret not doing prior to your pregnancy, or you suddenly have the urge to squeeze in one last time, such as skiing (water or snow) because of the risk of falling. Bungee jumping, certainly not. Amusement park rides and waterslides pose a risk because of the sudden stops and high acceleration. Hectic 4 x 4 trails would also not be wise because of the continuous bumps. Scuba diving poses a possible threat of air bubbles in the bloodstream. And stay away from extreme heat like saunas. Trust your in-built maternal instincts and don’t do anything you think could endanger the little person in your tummy
Staying healthy when travelling
Be sure to take healthy snacks and a ample water for the trip, especially if you are road-tripping. Stay hydrated. This will help prevent constipation and will also mean more frequent stops for the bathroom, which helps take care of another issue.
Pregnant women are at higher risk of developing blood clots, so make a concerted effort to move and walk around regularly. If you’re flying, be sure to stand up and walk around at regular intervals. Try and secure an aisle seat – they offer more stretch area for your legs and allow for easier access. Compression stockings are advisable after 28 weeks, to avoid blood clots.
Dr Detlev Venter, Johannesburg based GP, advises, “The rules for flying while pregnant do vary from airline to airline. It is advisable to confirm with your airline before you travel. In general, for flights less than four hours in duration, you can travel to the end of 40 weeks for a single pregnancy and 36 weeks for a multiple pregnancy. However, for flights longer than four hours in duration, you can travel up to 36 weeks for a single pregnancy and 32 weeks for a multiple pregnancy.
“Most airlines require a woman to carry a note from her doctor or midwife confirming her due date if she is travelling after 28 weeks of pregnancy,” adds Dr Venter. “If you have had any complications in the pregnancy , the airline may require a clearance certificate signed by your doctor before they will allow you to fly.”
If you do experience nausea while travelling in a car, keep the window down and allow fresh air to flow in. It often helps. If you happen to be on a boat trip and are feeling seasick, look out at the horizon. This should help you get your sea-legs.
It is also wise to plan ahead for any eventualities, by knowing what your emergency medical options are both at your destination, as well as en route. Ask your doctor for a copy of your prenatal documents to take with you. You should also contact your medical aid to confirm if you would be covered in the case of an emergency if travelling internationally.
Other things to take along would include comfortable walking shoes, light cotton clothing, your favourite pillow, and things which make you comfortable, and would make the journey more pleasurable.
If you are in any doubt about your trip or destination, check with your doctor, and if you are a high-risk candidate, ascertain whether your doctor approves or not, prior to making any plans.
Be careful, be alert, be wise and informed, but enjoy the journey – that being both the journeys: the travelling as well as the pregnancy.