The holiday season is already one of the busiest and most stressful times of the year to travel. But, what if you also happen to be pregnant? Whether you’re packing up the car for a road trip or flying to your destination, these 10 tips can help make traveling while pregnant as safe and comfortable as possible.
1. Timing is everything
The best time to travel while pregnant is during the second trimester (weeks 14-27). That’s not to say you can’t travel during the first trimester, but many moms-to-be may feel too nauseated or fatigued to get through, much less enjoy a long trip. If you’re in your third trimester, your physician may advise against traveling altogether. This will depend on your individual pregnancy, overall health, your method of transportation and the duration of your trip.
2. Bring your medical records
If you don’t have an appointment right before your trip, call your physicians office to request a printed copy of your medical records any time you plan to travel while pregnant. In the event you have a complication or go into labor while you’re away from home, this will help the physician at your destination get caught up to speed on your history.
3. Check with your airline (or cruise line)
Most airlines (or cruise lines if you’re planning to spend your holiday at sea), have their regulations regarding pregnant women. If you’re already pregnant or trying to get pregnant, and know that you will be traveling, call the airline before you book your trip. Some have restrictions regarding how late in pregnancy you can fly (or cruise), and others may require a note from your physician stating it is safe for you to fly. Even if you are within the confines of their requirements, do yourself a favor and purchase the travel insurance. When you’re pregnant or already have children, you never know what can happen.
4. Hydration is key
Staying hydrated will help prevent swelling in your hands, legs and feet. It also helps prevent blood clots and fatigue. This is equally important whether you’ll be driving or flying. While you should already be drinking plenty of water throughout your pregnancy, it’s especially important to hydrate in the days leading up to travel.
5. Don’t forget the snacks
For anyone traveling, the best way to eat healthy while on vacation is to bring some healthy snacks with you. If you’re traveling while pregnant, eating small amounts frequently throughout the day can help curb nausea and prevent a drop in blood sugar. This will also help you avoid the convenience of fried or spicy foods at the last minute, which may upset your stomach or cause swelling. Whole-wheat crackers, fresh or dried fruit, cut vegetables, nuts, and pasteurized cheese sticks are all great snacks to have on hand. Just make sure you check with your airline or refer to the TSA website for a list of items that you cannot bring through security checkpoints.
6. Make a list, check it twice
Pregnancy can make you forgetful (mom brain, anyone?). Make a list ahead of time, then check items off as you pack them. This will help ensure that you don’t forget the essentials like your vitamins or healthy snacks. If you’re concerned about motion sickness or an upset stomach during your trip, talk to your physician may be able to prescribe or recommend over-the-counter medications that can help.
7. Choose your seat wisely
If you’re flying, opt for an aisle seat. This will not only be more convenient for frequent bathroom breaks but when you need to stand up and stretch you won’t feel guilty bothering the person the seated next to you. If you’re driving, you may think you’ll have more room to stretch out in the back seat, but if motion sickness is a problem you’ll want to move up front.
8. Stretch it out
Since we already mentioned stretching, it’s a good rule of thumb to walk around and stretch every half hour. This applies any time during pregnancy, but especially when you travel. Pregnant women have an increased risk of developing blood clots, so you want to avoid sitting for extended periods of time. You may even want to consider wearing compression socks or support stockings to minimize swelling and prevent the blood from pooling in your lower legs.
9. Buckle Up
Whether you’re in a car or on a plane, it’s important to buckle up. You can tuck the bottom portion of a vehicle safety belt under your baby bump so it rests comfortably across your hips, but make sure the top portion lies across the center of your chest. If the lap belt on an airplane is too short, don’t be embarrassed to ask a flight attendant for a seat-belt extender.
10. Ask for help
If there’s ever a time to ask for help or to accept it when someone offers, it’s while your pregnant. Besides, it’s great practice for accepting help once the baby arrives. Use a rolling suitcase and ask for help from your partner or flight attendant if you need to lift luggage into an overhead bin or the trunk of the car.
Contact Triangle Physicians for Women
Our team at Triangle Physicians for Women want you to have a safe and enjoyable holiday season. It’s a joyous time of year, and even more so when you’re expecting. If you’re planning to travel while pregnant at any time during your pregnancy, be sure you talk with your physician at your next appointment.