5 Tips to Help Pregnant Women Get the Most Out of Travel
As a busy obstetrician in Silicon Valley, my patients have asked me thousands of travel related questions over the last 20 years. Below are five tips to help mommies-to-be to get the most out of their trip.
Hydration. Remember that hydration is extra important now. Frequent fluid intake is needed since more water evaporates from your skin when you are pregnant. This is especially true if you are traveling during warm months as heat will enhance that fluid loss. Try to drink at least 10 eight-ounce glasses of fluid every day and even more on hot days. The free mobile App, Pregnancy Companion, has a fun hydration counter to make it easy to keep track of your fluid intake.
Sun. Sun feels good, but be careful now that you are pregnant. The high pregnancy hormones will increase your chances of skin discoloration that might be permanent, so remember to put on ultra strong sun block of SPF 50 or more when you go out. If you want to be extra careful, put sun block on your skin under your clothes since clothes only provide a SPF block of 10 or so.
Plane travel. Plane travel is safe in pregnancy despite some voiced concerns regarding cosmic radiation and low oxygen levels in the passenger compartment. The risk in both cases is negligible. Try to get an aisle seat so that you can go to the bathroom frequently and take repeated walks down the aisles. Attach your seatbelt below your belly. If you are in your third trimester and the flight is more than a few hours, you may experience significant foot swelling, so consider wearing comfortable sandals and support stockings. Finally, make sure you are aware of the airline’s pregnancy age cut off. Many use 36 weeks as a cut off, but some use an earlier age. It is always a good idea to get a note from your OB regarding your due date since the airline might ask for it. If you have any contractions or bleeding, do contact your OB before leaving.
Car travel. For car trips, it is a good idea to plan a little. Remember to wear your seatbelt at all times and make sure it does not cover your pregnant belly. Try to limit the car trip to six hours per day and remember to take frequent breaks every one to two hours to stretch and go to the restroom. This will also help prevent blood clots in your legs. Being stuck in a car for hours might be a little uncomfortable, so bring a pillow or two with you. Finally, it is a good idea to bring some snacks and bottled water, as well as a small roll of toilet paper.
Boat travel. For those who prefer the leisure of a cruise trip, plan for potential nausea and ask your OB for some nausea medication, such as Odansitron or the Scopolamine patch. Medical experts believe they are safe to take during pregnancy.
International travel. Those going abroad for a last hurrah before your baby comes should plan wisely to ensure a memorable trip. Make sure you use safe drinking water. Bottled carbonated water is the safest when unsure about the tap water. Alternatively, you can also boil your tap water for three minutes. Remember that freezing does not kill bacteria, so use ice from a safe water source. Don’t drink out of glasses that have been washed in unboiled water. To prevent common travel diarrhea, avoid fresh fruits and vegetables that have not been cooked or that you have not peeled yourself. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat and fish.
Have your OB prescribe nausea medication and antibiotics in the event that you get sick. Azithromycin (1000mg) is the drug of choice in pregnancy for travel diarrhea. In order to avoid dehydration from the diarrhea, you can use over the counter Immodium. Rehydrate yourself with coconut juice, Pedialyte and broth. Finally, toilets abroad will often not have any toilet paper, so carry a small roll.
About the Author:
Dr. Jan Rydfors is a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist (OB/GYN) who received his medical degree and specialty training from Stanford University Medical Center. He has a clinical faculty position at Stanford University Medical Center and co-wrote Handbook in Obstetrics and Gynecology (known by OB/GYNs as the Red Book), now in its 10th edition and translated into twelve languages. He’s the co-founder and chief medical advisor of EmbraceHer, creators of the Pregnancy Companion app. www.embracehealth.co