IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|

Travel Health Journal

travel while pregnant photo by Gosia Lachucik

How to Travel Comfortably While Pregnant

By Jan Rydfors MD, Co-Creator of Pregnancy Companion: The Obstetrician’s Mobile Guide to Pregnancy

Traveling can be especially stressful for pregnant women with the breaking of normal routines. As a busy obstetrician in Silicon Valley for over 20 years, my patients have asked me thousands of travel related questions. Below are five tips to help mommies-to-be get the most out of their trip.

Hydration. Remember that hydration is extra important when you’re pregnant as more water evaporates from your skin during pregnancy, especially if traveling during the summer 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.

Sun. It feels good and getting a nice tan is always nice, but be careful now that you are pregnant. 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 outside. If you want to be extra careful with the sun, do remember to put sun block on your skin even under your clothes since clothes only provide a SPF block of 10 or so.

Illness. Before taking a trip, pack some nausea medication (over-the-counter or prescribed) or anti-nausea bands, and antibiotics in the event that you get sick. Azithromycin is the drug of choice in pregnancy if you get traveler’s diarrhea. In order to avoid dehydration from the diarrhea, you can use Imodium or other loperamides that are felt to be safe to use in pregnancy.  Rehydrate yourself with coconut juice, an oral rehydration solution such as Pedialyte and broth soups in the event of illness.

Plane travel. Plane travel is safe during pregnancy despite some voiced concerns regarding cosmic radiation and low oxygen levels in the passenger compartment. The risk in both cases is negligible. But if you do fly, try to get an aisle seat so that you can go to the bathroom frequently and take repeated walks down the aisles. Wear your seat belt below your belly. If you are in your third trimester and the flight is over 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, but some use earlier. It is always a good idea to get a note from your doctor regarding your due date since the airline might ask for it. If you have any contractions or bleeding, do contact your healthcare provider before leaving.

Car travel. Remember to wear your seat belt 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 to 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.

International travel. If you are going abroad for a last hurrah before your baby comes, plan wisely to ensure a memorable trip. Make sure you use safe drinking water. Bottled carbonated water is the safest to use 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 make sure you use ice from a safe water source. Also don’t drink out of glasses that have been washed in un-boiled water. To help prevent common traveler’s 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.

About the Author:

Dr. Jan Rydfors is a Board Certified OB/GYN specializing in fertility and high-risk pregnancy and Co-Creator of the popular app, Pregnancy Companion: The Obstetrician’s Mobile Guide to Pregnancy (www.pregnancycompanionapp.com), an easy way for women to get answers they need directly from certified OB/GYNs anytime, anywhere.  The only app created and staffed by Board Certified OB/GYNs, Pregnancy Companion is recommended by over 5,000 doctors across the country.

Photo courtesy of Gosia Lachucik, freeimages.

This post is part of a series on travelling while pregnant.