Everyone believes pregnant women cannot travel at all, but that might be a little false, this is because pregnant women can travel and go on vacations and adventures especially if they observe the necessary precautions before, during and after they travel.
Most pregnant women deny themselves of traveling simply because they have believed that you cannot travel as a pregnant woman.
If you are pregnant, the safest time for you to travel, generally speaking, is during the second trimester, (18 to 24 weeks of pregnancy provided you are not experiencing any complications) this is because most complications during pregnancy occur during the first and third trimesters. Travelling in the final months of pregnancy can be tiring and uncomfortable. Therefore, many women find the best time to travel or take a holiday is in mid-pregnancy, between 4 and 6 months.
However, if you are pregnant and want to travel, you should speak with your health care provider to discuss your travel plans and medical needs, you may be advised not to travel if you have certain medical conditions
NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
The first thing you should do when planning an international trip is to make an appointment with a healthcare provider who specializes in travel medicine. You should ideally visit the travel clinic at least 4–6 weeks before you leave. A travel medicine specialist can review your tour, make recommendations based on the health risks at your destination, and give you any vaccines or supplies you may need.
Consider getting supplemental travel health insurance, and make sure the guiding principle will also cover your baby just you give birth during your trip. If you are traveling to a remote area, ensure that the insurance policy will pay for your transportation to a high-quality hospital in case of emergency.
Before you hit the road, you can:
- Pack comfortable, loose fitting clothes, including long sleeve shirts, pants, comfortable shoes, sunglasses, hat, and insecticide.
- Speak with your health care provider at least 6 weeks before you hit the road to discuss your travel plans, recreational activities, medical needs, and what you should pack in your travel kit
- Find out what kind of medical care will be available at your travel location.
- If your medication requires needles and syringes, take enough for the entire trip and carry a note from your health care provider that shows you are permitted to posses these materials.
- Pack enough supplies for the entire trip and keep them in your carry-on luggage. Carry all prescriptions with you.
- In case of an emergency, have an evacuation plan to a local medical facility with a safe blood supply
Malaria and Zika
Malaria can be more severe in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant, this is because, malaria can increase the risk for serious pregnancy problems which includes; premature birth, miscarriage and even still birth.
Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, so as a pregnant woman you should use effective insect repellant and take the necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
The Zika virus is easily transmitted through mosquito bites and sex. Zika infection in a pregnant woman can cause severe birth defects, therefore pregnant women are advised not travel to any area with risk of Zika.
If for any reason, you have to travel to an area with Zika risk, take strict precautions to prevent mosquito bites and avoid sexual transmission. If you have a sex partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika, you should use condoms for the rest of your pregnancy.
FOOD AND WATER
Travelers’ diarrhea occurs as a result of eating or drinking contaminated food or water. In addition, other bacteria and viruses spread by food or water can lead to more severe illnesses that can cause problems for a pregnant woman and her baby. If you get travelers’ diarrhea, the best thing to do is drink plenty of safe liquids while you wait for it to go away on its own. However, your doctor may give you an antibiotic you can take in case diarrhea is severe.
Therefore, if you are traveling, you should carefully follow food and water safety measures:
- Eat only food that is cooked and served hot or warm.
- Do not eat cold food or food that has been sitting at room temperature for long.
- Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish.
- Wash and peel (if needed) fresh fruits and vegetables. Wash with clean or running water.
- Drink only water, sodas, or sports drinks that are canned or bottled and sealed.
- Do not drink anything with ice in it as ice may be made with contaminated water.
- If you must use the local water, boil the water thoroughly for five minutes before using.
ITEMS NEEDED IN YOUR MEDICAL KIT
- Oral rehydration preparations in case of traveler’s diarrhea
- Multivitamins formulated for pregnant women
- Urine dipsticks to check glucose levels (if required).
TRAVELING BY AIR
- Book a walkway seat if you can. This will make it easier to get up and stretch your legs during a long flight. (Going to the toilet will be a little easier).
- Wear your seatbelt under your bump and across your lap.
- Avoid carbonated drinks before or during your flight. Results have proved that overtime, carbonated drinks can cause discomfort. Drink water instead.
- Wear your seat belt at all times. Turbulence can happen without warning during air travel.
- Move your feet, toes, and legs often.
- Get up and walk around a few times during your flight at least every 30 minutes or so.
- You can buy a pair of graduated compression or support stockings from the pharmacy, which will help reduce leg swelling.
- If you are feeling short of breath or light-headed, ask one of the flight attendants to give you breathing oxygen.
TRAVELING BY SHIP
One of the most common health problems for people taking a cruise is seasickness (also called motion sickness). Seasickness can cause queasiness, lightheadedness, weakness, and headache. If you have never taken a cruise, planning your first one while you are pregnant may not be a good idea. However, if seasickness usually is not a problem for you, traveling by sea during pregnancy may not upset your stomach.
TRAVELLING BY ROAD
It is best to avoid long car journeys if you’re pregnant. However, you can avoid certain risks if you stop regularly and get out of the car to stretch and move around.
You can also do some exercises in the car (when you’re not driving), such as flexing and rotating your feet and wiggling your toes. This will keep the blood flowing through your legs and reduce any stiffness and discomfort.
Long periods of not moving during car, bus, rail and air travel increases the risk of clots forming in the deep veins of the leg, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). These clots can circulate and lodge in parts of the body such as the lungs.
Wearing compression stockings while on long car journeys (more than 4 hours) can also increase the blood flow in your legs and help prevent swelling and blood cloths.
Always wear a seatbelt. Fasten the lap sash across your lap and under your bump, fit the shoulder sash above your bump and between your breasts.
If you are sitting in the front passenger seat, move your seat well back from the dashboard to reduce airbag impact in case of a collision.
If you have to make a long trip, don’t travel on your own, this reduces the risks of road accidents. You could also share the driving with your companion.
SPORTING ACTIVITIES FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
Some sport activities are to be avoided, as they are unsafe for you and your unborn baby, activities to avoid include:
- Water-skiing – This could force water into the vagina.
- Scuba diving – the changes in blood gases may harm your baby.
- Saunas and hot tubs – increasing your body temperature can harm your baby.
- Horseback riding – the motion of horseback riding carries a risk of placental abruption (separating the placenta from the uterus). Falling from a horse carries a high risk of trauma to your baby, or even death.
- High-altitude activities such as mountain climbing – at heights over 3,000 meters, the oxygen level in the air is low. This reduces the oxygen available to your baby.