Childbirth is miraculous, but pregnancy can sometimes seem masochistic: the back pain, the bloating, the aching, and the inability to get comfortable no matter what you do. While pregnancy can be difficult even from your comfy living room couch, it is particularly inconvenient while traveling. Luckily, discomfort and complications can be avoided by taking a few precautions.
If Traveling by Air
Before buying an airline ticket, any woman who is pregnant should check with her doctor to make sure she is safe to fly. Some women who are predisposed to blood clots or are carrying a high-risk pregnancy may be advised not to fly. Other women will not be able to fly if they are too far along: according to the National Health Service, airlines will not let a woman travel after 36 weeks of pregnancy. If you are pregnant with twins or other multiples, you may not be able to travel after 32 weeks. Past 28 weeks, airlines may require a letter from your OB attesting to your general health, due date, and whether your pregnancy has had any complications.
Preparing for your Flight
Once you have been given the okay to fly, try to book a seat in the aisle: this will better allow you to get up and walk around. Per the National Institutes of Health, prior to a flight a pregnant woman should eat normally, drink plenty of fluids, bring crackers or juice to avoid nausea, and wear loose clothes and shoes. Women should also avoid taking over-the-counter medications for bowel problems or motion sickness unless they have been advised by their doctor to do so.
During the Flight
Blood clots are a risk to everyone who flies but pregnancy compounds this risk. For this reason, it is important to get up every hour and walk around the cabin for a few minutes. While sitting in your seat, you can perform exercises (such as flexing your calves and pointing your toes) to help circulation.
If Traveling By Land
The National Institutes of Health also state that land travel should not involve more than five or six hours on the road each day. You should take special caution to wear your seatbelt, and to pull over every hour to allow yourself a chance to walk around. If you get into an accident—even just a fender bender—be sure that you and your baby are checked out by a doctor.
If Traveling by Sea
If a boat is your chariot of choice, consider asking the cruise line how they respond to medical emergencies such as early labor. You may also want to reconsider—if you have never been on a cruise before or are prone to motion sickness, the rocking of the sea can cause nausea that pregnancy often exaggerates.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
If you are going to a foreign country, be sure to speak to a doctor about any shots or medications you may need (and bring your prenatal records to your appointment).
If traveling to high altitudes, such as into the mountains or to Denver, Colorado, be aware that the lower air pressure and lower oxygen in these environments will be an adjustment. The higher you go, the bigger the adjustment will be. For this reason, you may want to spend a few days at a moderate altitude (such as 5,000 to 8,000 feet) before going any higher. If your pregnancy has been complicated, it may be best to avoid high altitudes altogether.
This article was written together with John Davis, a travel expert who looks forward to helping you travel better! If you’re traveling to Seattle, he recommends that you consider Stita Taxi in order to get around the city in comfort. Check out their website and book your cab today!