Tips For Traveling While Pregnant
Between babymoons and business trips, more and more women are traveling during their pregnancies.
At least that’s the anecdotal evidence that Jan Rydfors, an obstetrician-gynecologist and a co-founder of the app Pregnancy Companion, has gathered from his patients. Not the most scientific survey, he would be the first to admit, but nevertheless telling. “I’ve done this over 20 years,” Dr. Rydfors said, “and I do think women feel much more that being pregnant is a healthy state.” He added, “They tend to listen more to their bodies than to dogma, so there’s much more traveling.” (To be done, of course, under the guidance of your doctor.)
Recently Dr. Rydfors gave travel tips for pregnant women, some of which came in handy during trips he took with his expectant wife before the birth of their first daughter. Following are edited excerpts of the conversation.
Q. Any precautions women should take before their trips?
A. Something I recommend to all of my patients: Get a copy of your prenatal chart and a letter from your O.B. clearing you for travel, with your due date. In case there are any medical problems, doctors would have an idea of how the pregnancy has been going. Your hotel or the American Embassy should have a list of doctors that are recommended, and most medical professionals anywhere understand basic English. I’d also recommend getting a flu shot because on a plane you’re around a lot more people, you’re touching a lot of surfaces, you’re more prone to get an infection. Keep in mind it takes two weeks for the flu shot to really start working.
Anything to pack?
It’s not a bad idea before you go to ask your doctor for a prescription of azithromycin, an antibiotic for travel diarrhea that’s safe for pregnant women, and an over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication like Imodium to take along with you. With travel diarrhea, it’s more the loss of liquid than the infection that’s worrying. If you become too dehydrated, it can affect amniotic fluid and blood flow to the baby. If you have a lot of diarrhea, pure coconut water — it has a little sugar and a lot of electrolytes — is a great way to rehydrate.
My wife had terrible morning sickness, and it did get worse during the travel partly because a lack of sleep makes you a little more nauseous. She was already taking the anti-nausea medication Scopolamine, so she took a little more to max out her dosage. You can ask your O.B. about the Scopolamine patches behind your ear, which are very good and safe to use.
Any tips for the plane?
When you’re pregnant, you tend to sweat more, pee more and drink a little less because you’re nauseous. It’s easy to get dehydrated in a plane, especially because it’s very dry. Drink as much as possible. Also, your clotting factors are elevated from the pregnancy hormones; that along with being dehydrated, your blood becomes more viscous, more prone to blood clots. Walk up and down the aisle at least once every hour to make sure blood is circulating. To help with swelling, wear loose-fitting shoes and, in the last trimester, maybe some support hose.
What’s the latest you recommend pregnant women to travel?
Term is 37 weeks, so the very, very latest, I’d say, is 36 weeks. A lot of airlines use that cutoff, some earlier, so make sure you double check. If it’s a long flight, I usually recommend 32 to 34 weeks. Toward the end, you swell up so much, and it’s uncomfortable if you’re on a plane.
These are just tips. Make sure you consult with your doctor before traveling at any time during your'e pregnancy. Make sure that you fully understand all the risks involved with your travel plans and any ways to protect your health that your doctor recommends before you go.