Just because you’re pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stay close to home. Millions of pregnant women every year take to the open roads even toward the end of their pregnancy. While some may think this is reckless or dangerous, there is ample evidence supporting the idea that women can travel well into their 8th month of pregnancy. After all, this may be the last opportunity to get away for a couple’s weekend for a long time! But in this instance, caution should not be thrown to the wind. In order to stay safe and keep your unborn child just as safe as you, there are steps you should take in order to do it right. So enjoy traveling while pregnant, but consider following these tips to keep you and your baby safe and sound.
Get the Green Light
Before you start packing, maybe even before you start planning, check with your obstetrician to make sure you get the green light to leave town. Most likely, as long as you don’t have any pregnancy-related complications and you’re in good health, you should be able to move forward with your trip. But it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor ahead of time in case he/she knows of a complication that could arise from traveling. And let the doctor know where you're going too, just in case he/she has any reservations about your destination.
Take Your Meds
Always make sure you travel with your prenatal vitamins and any other medications that you’re taking. And keep them on you in case you get separated from your luggage. The best place to keep your meds is in your purse or backpack. Don’t ever store them in the glove box, console, or on the seat of your car, as extreme high and low temperatures can alter the effectiveness of the medications. Take them with you when you leave your car in case you don’t return as soon as you thought you would. And stick to your medication-taking routine by taking them at the same time each day, just like you would at home.
Bring Along Your Records
It’s also important to travel with your prenatal records and ultrasounds. In the instance that you have to seek medical attention while traveling, you’ll have your current medical records concerning your pregnancy in case an unfamiliar doctor needs them. This could save valuable time in case of an emergency.
You've Got Their Numbers
Always have your doctor’s number within reach and make sure your partner has it as well. Program it into your cellphone so you can easily access it. Also, before you head out, find doctors who are located in or very near your destination(s) and write down their phone numbers and addresses. If you’re staying over in more than one location, make sure you have all stops covered.
Don't Get Burned, Don't Get Bitten
If your getaway includes spending time in the great outdoors, you're going to need some sunscreen and bug repellant. And there's even more reason to protect yourself while you're pregnant. Pregnant women burn more easily (I know this from painful experience!). Your melanocytes, which are pigment-producing cells, ramp up, making your skin more susceptible to discoloration from the sun's harmful rays. Choose broad-spectrum sunscreen that is at least SPF 30. Reapply every 2 hours and after being in the water. Stay away from two things when you're pregnant: sunscreen that contains oil and the chemical oxybenzone. Most pregnant women produce more oil, so applying oily sunscreen to an already oily body and/or face can cause breakouts. And the chemical oxybenzone, which gets absorbed right into your body, has been linked to birth defects. So read sunscreen labels before purchasing. Additionally, even if you're covered in sunscreen and SPF clothing, your baby can still feel the heat in utero, so seek shade! High internal temps have been linked to birth defects, so stay cool for your baby's sake! As for protecting yourself and your baby from viruses spread by mosquitos, it's simple: spray on the repellent. Not only is it safe, according to the EPA, but it's your best defense against those nasty little blood suckers. Repellents with 10% DEET are safe for pregnant women and the best way to ward off the bugs. Being pregnant during mosquito season is tough! Not only are you more appealing to mosquitos because your body gives off more heat and CO2, but your baby is at risk if you happen to contract the Zika virus from a mosquito bite. All the more reason to spray on that DEET repellant and wear protective clothing, like long sleeves, pants, and a hat.
This Vehicle Makes Frequent Stops
Riding in a car for hours at a time can be exhausting. It seems funny to think that sitting would be exhausting, but staying in one position for a long time is actually taxing on your body, even when you’re not pregnant. So when you add the extra weight of pregnancy, its uncomfortable side effects, and possible sickness, riding in a car for even a short amount of time might not sound like fun. So it’s important that you make frequent stops for a couple of reasons. Not only will this allow you to stretch your legs and back, but it will get your circulation moving again which is imperative when you’re pregnant. One thing pregnant women need to be mindful of is blood clots. Pregnancy often causes circulation problems which, when paired up with long periods of inactivity, can lead to dangerous blood clots. So plan to stop every few hours (or more if needed) at rest stops, restaurants, parks, and fun off-the-beaten-path attractions and make getting there just as much fun as being there. After all, this may be the last trip you take together without a car seat strapped in the back.
Just like any other time when you’re in the car, make sure you’re wearing your seatbelt! When you’re pregnant, this is even more important to your safety and that of your baby. But I know that wearing a constricting seatbelt when you’re feeling like you’re going to pop doesn’t sound like the most fun thing in the world. Don’t let this stop you from doing it though. This is one of the easiest ways to keep you and your baby safe. The correct way for a pregnant woman to wear a seatbelt is to have the lap belt under the belly and over the hips. The shoulder belt should go between the breasts and off to the side of the belly.
Pregnant women need lots of water to stay hydrated! Dehydration can lead to Braxton-Hicks (fake) contractions and can land you in the hospital. When you’re traveling, make sure you stay on top of consuming a healthy amount of water, generally around 10 cups a day. And if you’re consuming this much, then making frequent bathroom stops along the way to help with circulation (see the tip above!) shouldn’t be an issue.
Brown Bag It
As fun as it is to try new foods when you go to new places, this might not be the best idea when you’re pregnant. Pregnant women often have finicky stomachs and can easily get sick from foods that they’re growing bellies aren’t used to. So it might be best to travel with a lot of the foods that are in your regular diet so you don’t end up with a case of the stomach bug (or worse!). Try these Quick & Yummy Pancake Breakfast Bites for an easy, healthy breakfast that you can make ahead of time and freeze. Bringing along your own food also helps you avoid possible food poisoning that can happen when eating out. Once you’re not pregnant anymore (or nursing), you can indulge in your favorites and find new ones without the worry of upsetting your baby in utero or getting sick yourself!
Let Someone Else Get Your Bags
This may be a no-brainer, but don’t do heavy lifting when traveling. I’m sure your OB told you this early on in your pregnancy, but I’m going to tell you again. Leave the heavy lifting to your partner and travel companions who are not growing a human in their belly. Sometimes when we’re away from our normal routines we tend to forget little things like this, but don’t. Lifting heavy items when pregnant, even in the early months, can lead to possible complications, including preterm labor, miscarriage, low birth weight, preeclampsia, and more. Also, since you now have weight that is distributed unevenly across your body (namely, your belly!), you are more apt to lose your balance. And with pregnancy, ligaments loosen and joints become less stable, meaning it’s easier for you to injure yourself if straining to lift something. So for once, when someone offers to carry something for you, let them!
Have I left anything out? If you have any helpful pregnancy travel tips to add, share them below! We’d love to hear them!