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Pregnancy and Travel

There are plenty of reasons to travel in pregnancy. Questions often arise about safety with the various modes of travel. Pregnant women can safely travel by road, train, air and sea so long as various precautions are put in place.

The ideal time to travel during pregnancy is between 14 to 28 weeks, referred to as the second trimester. This is past the time when morning sickness is pronounced, and well below late third trimester of pregnancy when general fatigue is more. If travel at other times is however necessary, the most important consideration is to exclude potential complications and plan for any eventuality.

Travel on land can be by car, bus or train. Safety seat belts must be worn at all times. This should be below and above the bump for the best protection of both mother and the unborn baby. The vehicle’s airbags must always be activated for added safety. If on a bus or train, chose the most comfortable seat, and remain seated while in motion. If the need to use the rest room arises, maintain your balance by holding onto the rails. For long trips, maintain your blood circulation by exercising the calf muscles while seated. And if there is a rest stop, taking short walks and stretches keeps the blood circulating optimally.

Air travel is common and safe. Most airlines allow women to travel up to 36 weeks of pregnancy. A letter from your Obstetrician may be required. Unless traveling business or first class, the aisles tend to be narrow and seating space somewhat squeezed. Chose an aisle seat that will make it easier to get up, and allow stretching of your legs. You may be advised to wear medical stockings that aid blood flow in long-haul flights. While on board, keep well hydrated with water and fruit juices, it’s best to avoid alcoholic drinks.

Traveling by sea is also generally safe. Check with the cruise liner about the route and ports of call. Cruise liners usually have a medical team in case of any complications. Ensure that you have a supply of sea-sickness tablets, and that they are safe for use in pregnancy.

Foreign travel requires extra information about the destination. You need to discuss any necessary immunizations in case of exposure to rare local diseases. Also, it’s important to carry a copy of your health records especially if the rest of your care will continue overseas. While visiting, drink bottled water, use canned juices and make sure milk is pasteurized. Thoroughly clean and cook vegetables, eat washed and peeled fruits, and make sure meats are well cooked.

Before set-off, always check with your Obstetrician if any special precautions are required. Some women with specific risk factors require blood thinners to reduce the risks of forming blood clots. Dress comfortably in loose cotton and wear comfortable shoes. Carry some drinks and healthy snacks. And enjoy your trip.

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