Are you pregnant and planning to travel out of town for the holidays? That’s great! Before you go, there are some talking points we think you should know before heading out. Let’s get started with planning.
When you’re planning your travels, it would be wise to know where the nearest hospital is in relation to where you'll be staying and to check if there are any travel advisory warnings. If you are able, try to plan travels for when you are in the second trimester. The second trimester is usually when pregnant women feel the best, risks are low, and the nausea from the first trimester has worn off.
You should also let your midwives know when you will be traveling and where you will be going. Prior to traveling research what, if any, diseases are currently spreading in your destination. If there are high rates of the zika virus or COVID 19, you may want to reconsider as these viruses can cause harm to both the mother and the fetus. If you cannot avoid traveling while your destination is in an outbreak, take extra precautions to avoid illness such as wearing a mask to prevent airborne viruses and using insect repellant and covering your skin to avoid mosquito bites. If you would like to get vaccinated before traveling, discuss the risks and benefits with your midwife about the vaccinations you are considering to decide if that is what’s right for you.
When it comes to packing, you’ll probably want to bring a pregnancy pillow, compression socks, comfortable shoes, and be sure to have plenty of water on hand (especially if you will be outside for long periods of time). If you have any medical conditions such as gestational diabetes, you may want to bring along your medical records as well just in case you need to visit a hospital while you are traveling.
While you are getting to your destination (whether by sea, train, air, or car) make sure to get up and move around every 2-3 hours to prevent clotting. If possible, try to get in a few minutes of walking in between breaks and do some light stretches. This will also help prevent sore muscles from sitting for long periods of time.
If you are traveling in a plane, train, or on a ship, you can get up and move around more often. If you are able, try to pick an aisle seat on your plane to make getting in and out of your seat easier.
If you are traveling to a place in a higher elevation, make sure to take it easy. The higher you go in elevation; the less oxygen is available to you which can cause you to become tired quickly. If you have hypertension, elevation changes can cause your symptoms to worsen and may require medical attention.
You are also at a greater risk of sunburn while pregnant, and gaining in elevation only makes that risk higher. Applying sunscreen often, staying in shady areas, and wearing SPF clothing can help you greatly in avoiding a sunburn.
Be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness and get to a lower altitude if you believe you are experiencing these symptoms:
Shortness of breath
If you are still having these symptoms after getting to a lower altitude, seek medical attention as soon as possible. If you are getting less oxygen, so is your baby and this could put them at risk.
Another thing to consider is that higher elevations generally have less access to emergency medical care. You should discuss your risks with your midwife prior to traveling and consider creating an emergency back-up plan in the event that a crisis occurs.
When Not to Travel
You should consider staying home if you are sick, have a high-risk pregnancy, and be cautious during the third trimester. Your due date is only an estimate, so when you get into the late-third trimester and traveling, you are risking going into labor while out of town. A good guideline to follow is- close to your due date, close to home.
Are you considering having a homebirth? Expecting moms who have low-risk pregnancies are eligible to give birth at home. While there are many benefits to having a home birth, we wanted to touch on the main points with this blog post.