When I got the joyous news that I was expecting my first child, I was over the moon! While my husband and I had traveled to over 60 countries together as a couple, experiencing countless adventures, I knew that we were about to embark on the greatest journey of our lives.
What it also meant is that how, where and when I traveled was going to change dramatically. I quickly learned that there’s lots to know about traveling when you’re pregnant. Here are some of the key things to consider:
Traveling by air is generally considered safe for pregnant women but it’s always best to consult with your doctor before making any travel arrangements. During your first trimester, travel may be difficult if you suffer from severe morning sickness. And the extreme fatigue that plagues many women during this time can make travel unpleasant, maybe even undesirable. Second trimester travel may be preferable as morning sickness has (hopefully!) subsided and you’re feeling more energized. As long as your pregnancy is complication-free, some airlines will allow travel into the ninth month of pregnancy but may require written permission from your healthcare practitioner so be sure to find out in advance. But generally, unless you’re traveling due to an emergency, it’s advised that you curtail your travels somewhere between the 28th and 36th weeks of pregnancy; consult with your doctor about your specific pregnancy. Neither you nor the airlines want you to go into premature labour up in the air!
Be sure to bring any medications you need or may need with you. Depending on where you’re going, you may not have easy access to a pharmacy. So bring enough vitamins, supplements and any other medications you’re taking with you. (And don’t put them in your checked luggage in case it should get lost along the way; always keep them in your carry-on!) If you’re bringing any ‘just in case’ pain relievers or medications for things like nausea, seasickness or diarrhea, make sure they’re approved and safe for pregnant women.
Staying adequately hydrated is important for everyone but especially for pregnant women. Water is an essential vehicle for transporting vitamins and nutrients to your growing baby and can prevent a host of unpleasant pregnancy side effects like headaches, constipation, fatigue and edema. It’s advised that pregnant women consume 12 to 13 eight-ounce glasses of water per day, which is slightly more than non-pregnant women. When traveling by air, it’s even more important to stay well-watered to avoid swelling in hands and feet.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, be sure to do some research in advance about your destination. Right now, the Zika virus is of enormous concern to pregnant travelers all over the world. For more information about travel to infected countries and what your options are with Allianz Global Assistance, click here. Also be vigilant about making sure the water you’re drinking is potable. And just like at home, stay away from unpasteurized dairy products and juices. If you’re unsure whether any food has been safely prepared, it’s best to avoid it altogether. If you’ve got questions about safety and immunization requirements as related to your upcoming trip, you can call the Center for Disease Control at 1-800-311-3435.
You never know when you’ll need medical attention while you’re traveling so before you go, save the phone number of your obstetrician in your phone, just in case you need it. And don’t forget to download the Allianz TravelSmart app, which will provide you with valuable information at the touch of a button, like locations of the closest pre-screened medical facilities, first aid terms translated into multiple languages and the local numbers for the police, ambulance, and fire department. If you’re traveling with a companion, make sure they have this app downloaded as well.
There are so many dos and don’ts when it comes to pregnancy and between your doctor, the internet and well-meaning friends and family, you may find yourself inundated with information. But don’t forget the most valuable tool you have at your disposal: Your own intuition. Be sure to listen to your body; it will tell you what it needs. When you feel extremely tired, take a break. If you feel pain of any kind, rest and consult your doctor. When you feel hungry, eat – remember, you are nourishing another human life now as well. It’s a wise idea to always travel with healthy snacks since when you’re on the go, you don’t always know where your next meal is coming from. Intuition and common sense can be a pregnant traveler’s best friend!