Nine months is a long time to expect someone to not travel. It’s three quarters of a year. Pregnant travel doesn’t have to be to far flung or exotic destinations, a simple car trip can be enough.
But pregnant women are given travel restrictions nonetheless.
These restrictions are rarely for the entire duration of the pregnancy, unless you are extremely high risk or have complicating medical conditions that need to be monitored. When the restriction kicks in depends upon two things, your doctor and how your pregnancy is progressing.
Usually these restrictions are placed somewhere between the beginning of the third trimester and the beginning of the final month – so 28 to 36 weeks.
When considering that once baby arrives it will be harder to get away, many couples find themselves planning romantic trips as one last hurrah, or trying to work out visits with family members in other parts of the country. Some have long-standing annual family vacations that they want to make, and some women might have careers that require time away from home.
Regardless of your reason for traveling these tips, annotated from an old post from my ex Washington Times Communities colleague Brigid Moret , may help make your journey as comfortable as possible and also check out CheapAir’s airline pregnancy guide below.
Check With Your Doctor Discuss any complications you might be having, where you are going and your mode of transportation. Air travel may not be advised, and certain parts of the world carry increased risk for pregnant women and are discouraged. Also, if you get motion sick and tend to take medication for the condition while traveling, verify that the prescription is safe for your developing baby.
Evaluate When You’ll Be Traveling – The second trimester is often the most comfortable time for most women and usually beats the earliest of travel restrictions doctors place on mothers-to-be. As a result, weeks 15-28 tend to be the best for travel. You’ve gotten your energy back, the morning sickness is gone, and you’re not feeling like a beached whale yet. For vacation purposes, this may be the best time since you’re most likely able to enjoy yourself during this period.
Another consideration is the time of year you will be traveling. While pregnant your blood volume increases as do your maternal fat stores. Both of these contribute to overheating. You can go from a summer loving sun-goddess to an air-condition clinging woman quite easily. Similarly, if you’re planning on a winter trip, learning how to ski while your center of balance is thrown off might not be the wisest of activities.
Take Frequent Breaks Okay, if you’re on a 10 hour flight you can’t ask the pilot to land when you want a break, but you can get up and stretch your legs. Sitting for too long can be uncomfortable for anyone, but it is more so for a pregnant woman. Staying in one position too long can lead to back pain and restrict circulation in your legs. If you’re in your third trimester, it can also cause discomfort in your swollen belly. Changing position usually helps with all of these discomforts. So try to get up and move every one to two hours.
Also, ignoring your bladder for as long as possible because you don’t want to use a grimy gas station bathroom or trying to maneuver in the tiny stall on a plane is a bad idea. Resisting the urge to go to the bathroom can lead to urinary tract infections, which can cause complications in your pregnancy.
Watch Your Diet It can be hard while traveling to maintain the healthy diet you have been keeping to at home. Whether it’s a dearth of healthy options at the roadside café or that your family wants to eat out every night, there are definitely more obstacles in your way.
To help minimize the number of candy bars you’re grabbing to stave off the munchies, plan ahead. If you’re traveling by car, pack a bag or a small cooler full of healthy snacks, such as fruit, granola, and nuts. If you’re traveling by another means, throw a handful of healthy snacks from home in your purse. A handful of nuts mixed with dried cranberries is a great alternative to trail mix with M&Ms, and the individually wrapped fiber bars are a great way to make you feel more full to get you through the trip.
Once you are at your destination, be menu savvy. Look for things that are low on fat and add vegetables whenever possible – even if it’s insisting that you add green peppers, olives and mushrooms to a pizza. Ask waiters if they make substitutions for their sides. Apple sauce instead of french fries may not be as good as steamed veggies, but it’s less grease and fat.
Stay Hydrated Dehydration is a leading cause of pre-term labor, so drink, drink, drink. If you’re traveling by car, throw plenty of bottled water in the cooler with your healthy snacks. If you’re flying, drink plenty before you board, then when the flight attendant brings the beverage cart around, ask for a bottle of water. If you ask for the entire bottle they will give it to you, otherwise you will receive the tiny plastic cup which will not be enough. Also, don’t be afraid to flag down a flight attendant at any point during the flight and ask for more to drink.
Include hydration alertness for all your activities on your trip, especially if you are out and about a lot or spending lots of time in the sun. Remember, everything you sweat out needs to be replaced, and being pregnant you’re probably sweating more than you are used to.
Stay away from caffeinated beverages while you travel. Not only do the standard warnings about caffeine intake during pregnancy apply, but caffeine is also a diuretic. As a result, all those fluids that you’ve been drinking to stay hydrated will try to find their way through you faster. The result? More trips to the bathroom.
Above all, the most important parts of traveling while pregnant is to make sure you are safe. Following the tips above will help you be more comfortable and help protect you and your baby. Just remember, this may be the last trip you make without an extra companion for years to come, so make as enjoyable as you can.