Pregnancy brings a lot of changes in the lifestyle of a mother. It does pose a few challenges if you intend to travel. Even the minutest thing needs to be thought about and planned – right from the diet, physical exertion, rest, clothing, etc.
These are the things that we do not normally care about. During pregnancy, however, you should! Traveling with a baby (inside you) is indeed possible. Let’s not put your travel plans on the shelf just because you are going to be a mother. Though motherhood is a challenging phase, it should not put an end to the element of fun in your life.
There are multiple modes of travel for a pregnant lady. A couple of things that you should take note of while choosing the mode of travel for you. Let’s look at them one-by-one!
TRAVELING BY TWO-WHEELER
Traveling in a two-wheeler should be avoided by a pregnant lady. It can be used only if there is no better option available. The two-wheeler is alright for a pregnant lady as long as she takes extra precautions. Two-wheelers expose you to rough roads. There are chances of you losing balance on it, resulting in a fall. If at all you decide to use two-wheelers, certain things need to be kept in mind:
- Always wear a helmet.
- Put on a set of comfortable shoes.
- Avoid using the road during rush hours.
- Try taking familiar and short routes.
- Avoid driving two-wheeler in the rainy season as roads can be slippery.
- A two-wheeler with a self-start option is advisable.
- Over-speeding is a big NO!
- Take special care on turns and speed breakers.
- Always carry a bottle of water and a healthy snack.
- Have your phone fully charged
TRAVELING BY BUS
Traveling by bus is safe provided you follow certain guidelines. Standing on the bus should be avoided because of the risk of falling. You should request your fellow passengers for a seat if you don’t get one.
Aisle seats come with better leg space and also allow you to move around easily. So prefer an aisle seat either in the middle or front of the bus. If it is a long-distance journey, it’s advisable that you have one of your family members with you.
Do carry home-cooked food and bottles of water. Try moving around at halts in order to prevent muscle stiffness. Stretch your arms and legs during the halt of the bus.
You should never board a moving bus no matter what your urgency is!
Try to travel in the air-conditioned bus as the non-ac bus may expose you to dust and fumes. Avoid buses if it is overcrowded. Even on bumpy roads, the bus is not advisable as it can be physically taxing especially in the third trimester.
TRAVELING BY CAR
Car is one of the most convenient options for those who can afford it. Some quick advice!
You must carry bottles of water so as to prevent dehydration & fatigue. Proper air circulation in the car is a must. If it is going to be a long journey, halt every two hours. Take a break and stretch your limbs so as to avoid complications like DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis).
Seat belts must be put on in the right way. The cross strap of the belt should be crossing your breast and lower strap across your pelvis. Studies have shown that wearing a seat belt reduces risk to mother and baby to a great extent.
TRAVELING BY TRAIN
Train traveling is quite safe if you have healthy and normal ongoing pregnancy without any complications or health issues like diabetes or high blood pressure. In such cases, you need to check with your gynecologist before traveling.
It is advisable that you have one of your family members with you. Reach the station early to board comfortably. Avoid boarding if there is a rush at the train door. This will prevent accidental fall or push. Try booking a comfortable seat on the train and go for a lower berth.
To avoid discomfort, take a seat in the direction of the train as it reduces motion sickness. Take your own blankets and pillows as it will be more comfortable. Even if it’s a day journey take AC sleeper coach so that you can relax. It is essential that you walk and stretch your legs or wiggle your toes so as to prevent the risk of blood clotting. Try to keep your legs in an elevated position while you sleep.
Do carry enough sanitizers and wipes with you and don't forget to wipe the toilet seat before using it. This will prevent urinary tract infections. Use the restroom while train halts at the station and preferably take someone with you to stay out in case of emergency.
Carrying emergency medicines along with your own food and water is preferred. Please take the help of a porter to help you with your luggage.
TRAVEL BY FLIGHT
Flights do come with their pros and cons. The best time to take flight for a pregnant lady is between 14-27 weeks i.e second trimester. There are chances of miscarriage before and after this period. It is to be noted that after 36 weeks of pregnancy, flight travel is prohibited for a normal singleton pregnancy and this cut off is 32 weeks for twins and triplets.
CDC advises that you get your medical evaluation done by your doctor before you take a flight. You must also carry your prenatal records with you. Certain vaccinations like influenza, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis are recommended for pregnant ladies who are traveling to places where the risk of getting infected with these diseases is high.
There are a few frequently asked questions that are related to traveling by flight during pregnancy.
Is it safe to go through a metal detector machine?
The magnetic field of very low energy radio waves is used in these detectors and the amount of exposure is very low to cause harm to the mother or the developing baby.
Is the pressure in the aircraft cabin safe for pregnancy?
Pressure in the cabin of commercial aircraft is comfortable for passengers. The change in oxygen level is too small to affect tissue or fluid surrounding the baby. In contrast, a non-commercial small aircraft that fly higher than 8000 ft is not well pressurized and is not ideal during pregnancy. However, In the case of health conditions where oxygen content in the blood is reduced (such as sickle cell disease), blood clotting disorder, or placental insufficiency, you must avoid flights.
Will morning sickness get worse with altitude & temperature changes?
Chances of Dehydration are more with increased altitude and higher temperatures. Drinking a lot of fluids and keeping yourself hydrated is important as water helps to carry nutrients through the blood to the baby.
Is the radiation I am exposed to airplane harmful for my unborn baby?
We are exposed to cosmic radiation be it on land or in the air. Such radiation emanates from the sun or other stars. On earth, we are protected to some extent by the atmosphere. At high altitudes, the radiation levels are indeed high but not harmful enough to cause concern for occasional traveling. Radiations are higher than normal during solar flares.
Certain health conditions don’t allow us to take flight like uncontrolled diabetes, high blood pressure, impending signs of miscarriage, placenta previa, or any other placental abnormality or any thrombotic disorder. We should avoid traveling by flights during advanced pregnancy as the possibility of going to labor increases.