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Travelling During Pregnancy: What You Should Be Concerned About

Now, more than ever, it seems, travelling during pregnancy is both an issue and a non-issue that isn't even a big deal anymore. On the one hand, there is now the Zika Virus to contend with, but then again, most airlines give the go-ahead for pregnant women to fly up until and during their eighth month of pregnancy, so clearly there’s a lot of leniency when travelling during pregnancy. Even still, it's totally okay if you feel a little concerned about travelling with that baby growing in your belly. 

Yes, you should still be weary of travelling out of the country when you're creeping up on your due date, and it probably isn’t the best idea to take super long car rides across the country unless you're prepared to make frequent stops. You know, for that over active bladder, but also for much needed stretching.

If you can keep your most extensive travels to the middle of your pregnancy, you're more likely to travel safely and have a better peace of mind. The closer you are to the end of your third trimester, the closer you will need to be to hospitals when you travel while pregnant. Which probably goes without saying, but the best thing you could do and something you should seriously be concerned about is the location of medical facilities, regardless of where you travel to. 

As much as you love your OB and vice versa, we have a feeling they won't be too keen on crossing state lines to make an emergency hospital visit for you.

Whether you're planning on travelling by plane, or by car, or on a cruise ship even, it's always a good idea to have a talk with your doctor about it long before your plans are cemented. While travelling during pregnancy is totally doable and in no way out of the question for most moms-to-be, every woman and every pregnancy is different, so you'd better believe that talking to your doctor about it can only do you good.

Be wary of too much sun, too much physical exertion, and of ailments like the Zika Virus, but also be aware that this may be your last trip before baby so it's expected of you to have the most enjoyable experience you can. Which, incidentally, is made most possible if you can be confident in travelling with that pregnant belly of yours.

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7  Stretching During Long Trips

As you're probably well aware, not everyone travels by plane, and if you’re one of the many who choose to take long car rides to get to your vacation destinations, then you also know the awful feeling of your legs cramping up after a few uncomfortable hours confined in the car. And if those who aren't pregnant can feel it, think of the effect on pregnant women, who are likely already uncomfortable in other ways. 

Instead of risking the chance of swollen feet and even calves, make sure that you stop more frequently than usual during your long ride, and stretch that body that's currently working for two. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to get a few extra bathroom stops at the same time because yes, you will need those too.

Even doing something as easy as getting out of the car and taking a few quick laps around it, letting your legs stretch as you walk, is enough to make up for some of the cramped sitting you'll be doing for hours at a time. It may not sound like much, but your pregnant legs will thank you and you'll feel a whole lot more rested once you get to your destination. 

6 Getting Too Much Sun

For anyone really, getting too much sun can never be good. There's a reason, after all, that tanning beds are never recommended and the fact that an SPF 90 sunblock exists. But for pregnant women, it's even more important to be mindful of the amount of sun you get while travelling. 

Your baby cooking in your belly oven requires lots of folic acid for healthy development, but overexposure to the sun actually breaks down that folic acid, making it more possible for your impending labor to have more complications and the delivery to be more difficult for you both.

We aren’t saying that you should totally avoid the beach because, really, what kind of vacation is that? Especially when all you want to do is relax on the beach with a nice virgin cocktail and waves lapping at your cankles. But you should be mindful of the amount of sun you're exposing yourself and that belly to, and travel with the preconceived notion that this year you will not be laying out for a stellar tan. 

Yeah, you may end up sporting a much paler complexion this Fall, but it's all in the name of baby. So that's totally worth it, right?

5 Travelling Far Distances

Like we said, knowing your surroundings is super important when you're travelling while pregnant. So it probably goes without saying that you should be pretty weary of travelling far distances. It’s always better to be closer to home during the last few weeks of your pregnancy, either for medical reasons or just for comfort. When you're pregnant, and even when you aren't, there’s nothing like the comfort of your own bed and all of the coziness it offers.

But when you're traveling while you're pregnant, sticking close to home is so important because your doctor is closer to your home than that vacation resort several states away. There’s a reason why we make these intricate birth plans. You want your labor and the birth of your little one to go as smooth as possible, and our birth plans usually entail having our babies at specific hospitals with certain doctors. And the better you can stick to that, the better your whole birthing process will be.

If you decide to travel far during your pregnancy, discuss you options with your doctor in case you need medical help on your vacation. You can also take out travellers insurance so you're covered in an emergency. And if travelling during the last trimester of your pregnancy can't be avoided for whatever reason, make an emergency birth plan for your destination with your doctor.

4 Food And Drink Sanitation

Thanks to that little (or big!) bean growing faster and faster inside of your belly, you will be even more prone to any illnesses from food or beverage than if you weren’t pregnant. Fun, right? But since being pregnant makes you more susceptible, then it probably goes without saying that your little one will be in danger of you passing those along. 

Something as simple as drinking sealed, bottled water and ordering food well done are ways to avoid some of the more cringe-worthy results that could add in both vomit and diarrhea to the mix. Yes, even more than you're already dealing with as a part of daily pregnant life.

Probably one of the more serious food borne illnesses to be concerned about for pregnant women, though, is Hepatitis E. Contracted through contaminated drinking water, the most common signs of Hepatitis E include:

  • A clear case of Jaundice.
  • A severe loss of appetite.
  • Stomach pains.
  • Frequent vomit and diarrhea.
  • A high fever.

There is no real clear cut "treatment" for Hepatitis E, because it typically clears up on its own within a few weeks, but with the seriously unpleasant symptoms of the disease, the best thing a pregnant woman can do is take every precaution to prevent herself from contracting it. 

3 The Zika Virus

By now, we are all well aware of the Zika virus and the sort of severe threat it poses to pregnant women. While it originates from something as tiny as a mosquito, the Zika virus doesn't yet have a real vaccine or "cure". If you contract the Zika virus when you aren’t pregnant, you don't have to worry about much except the symptoms, which last just 2 - 7 days, and the discomfort throughout the process. But if you're pregnant and contract Zika, there is your unborn baby to consider.

When you have Zika, you can easily transfer the disease to your baby, and there have been known side effects to the fetuses of pregnant women who contract Zika. Since there has been a high level of Zika outbreaks in Brazil, many of the pregnant women who had Zika gave birth to babies with cases of microcephaly, a condition in which a baby is born with a head much too small for its body size.

The thing most recommended by doctors is for pregnant women to not travel at all to countries in which the Zika virus was reported to have been in abundance. Symptoms of the disease, though mild, are:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Pink Eye
  • Muscle Aches
  • Headaches
  • Malaise, or severe discomfort and a feeling of depression brought on from the virus

Since the Zika virus is contracted through mosquito bites of infected insects which carry the virus, the sort of precautions to take include ones you would use anyway to protect yourself against mosquito swarms. Yes, we know, dealing with this sort of disease while you should be enjoying a vacation isn't exactly ideal, but if you can prevent it as a whole, then why not give that a try, right?

  • Wear long sleeves
  • Use a doctor-approved mosquito repellent when outside
  • Stay away from areas where mosquitoes are more likely be found, like small bodies of water
  • Remember that indoor air conditioning is your best bet

Before worrying about whether or not mosquito and insect repellent is alright for you during pregnancy, refer to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) guidelines for bug repellents and rest easy knowing that yes, you can definitely be protecting any of that exposed flesh from Zika-carrying mosquitoes. Of course the best way to be safe from the virus is to all together avoid any area where it has been detected, and choose a different travel destination. 

2 Timing

The best time to travel while pregnant is between 18 and 24 weeks, or right around the duration of your second trimester. The beginning of your pregnancy is a bit dicey, as it’s the beginning of your pregnancy and your baby's development, and travelling at the end of your pregnancy is a time when your baby is undergoing more important developments that it is best not to disturb in any way.

Of course it’s up to you to travel when you believe you are physically and emotionally prepared to, but timing really is everything when you're pregnant. And when you want to travel while pregnant, it ‘s ever important to keep the timing in mind. And should you decide to travel when you’re very close to your due date, be sure to have a decent amount of knowledge of the medical practices at your destination.

Travelling while pregnant can be super fun, if a little uncomfortable at times. But if you can do it right and have one last hoorah before family vacations begin, then you can have a lot of great memories to tide you over while you recoup from birth. 

1 Travel Preparedness

In order to travel safely there are a number of precautions you can take to ensure you're ready for anything. First thing you should do is pack a travel health kit. Make sure you have anything you could possibly need for any discomfort or need you could possibly have while away. If you're taking any medication you should pack it in your purse along with your prenatal vitamins in case your luggage should get lost during your travels.

Along with the ok from your doctor, you should also keep a copy of your medical records with you as well. Know your own medical needs, if you're prone to blood clots, be sure to wear special stockings and do calf exercises. Before booking your trip, gather information about your destination, such as immunization and nutritional information. Do you need to take any special dietary precautions during your stay or do you need a vaccine before going?

At the airport, opt out of the x-ray scan. There's no need to expose your unborn baby to any level of radiation no matter how small it might be. Instead, get the airport security detail to give you a pat down. And during your entire trip monitor your health closely. Take note of any sudden changes and always be sure to stay hydrated and drink clean water. And last, but not least, enjoy yourself!

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