Travel Safety in Mid-Pregnancy
Head for the hills or the beach or the big city! This is the best time in your pregnancy to take a trip. Miscarriage isn't much of a risk now, your morning sickness has probably ended, and you're still small enough to get around easily. Use these travel tips to make the most of your last vacation (at least for a while) without night feedings, diaper bags, or a babysitter:
- Move around. The riskiest thing about travel during pregnancy is the possibility of getting a blood clot, and travel often requires long hours of sitting in a plane, bus, train, or car, which increases that risk. Get up and walk around every hour or so. Avoid crossing your legs, and if you have varicose veins or swelling problems, consider wearing support hose.
- Take your most comfortable shoes and clothing. Support hose are especially important if you're going to be sitting in cars, planes, or trains for long periods of time.
- Head off dehydration by drinking extra fluids (choose water rather than caffeinated beverages, which can contribute to dehydration), breathing steam from a cup of hot water, and using an over-the-counter saline nasal spray.
- Most airlines allow pregnant women to travel until the 36th week of pregnancy, though expectant mothers at risk for premature labor or who have placental abnormalities should avoid flying.
- Forget those multicity tours. Opt for a single destination and a pace that allows you to get off your feet in the middle of each day.
- Choose a cool climate over a hot one, now that your metabolism is in high gear, or at least be sure your hotel has air-conditioning and you can stay out of the sun.
- Beat jet lag by avoiding new time zones or start switching time zones before you leave. Switch to local time when you arrive.
- Take your good habits with you. Pack your prenatal vitamins and stick to a healthy eating plan. Continue to exercise daily.
- Lift luggage carefully: Stand alongside your suitcase, bend at your knees, grasp the handle, and straighten up. Better yet, have your partner or the bellboy carry it.
- If you have a problem with swollen ankles, wear loose-fitting shoes. Rotate your ankles and elevate your feet to improve circulation.
- Get the name of a local obstetrician and carry it with you. Also carry your medical records and insurance card.
- Check with your health insurer to find out if you're covered for health problems that occur while you're traveling and determine whether you need your insurer's approval before receiving care.
- Pick a safe destination. Now is not the time to travel to countries with unsafe drinking water, high rates of infectious diseases, or civil unrest. If you must travel to a foreign country where vaccinations are recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, check with your health care provider to weigh the risk of every vaccination against the risk of getting the disease at this point in your pregnancy.
- Don't drink the water or swim in it if you're in a country where water standards are questionable. If you're in a region where the water poses hazards, don't eat raw or unpeeled fruits and vegetables.
- When you drive, wear a lap belt and shoulder harness. The lap belt should strap beneath your abdomen, and the shoulder belt should be snug without cutting into your shoulder or neck.
- Bring extra pillows and socks no matter how you travel. They'll come in handy for comforting your back and feet.
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
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