Travel during Pregnancy – should I or not?

Awaiting the moment

 

The joy of giving birth, in itself is no less than a miracle.

The delicate happiness that you carry inside has to be well protected from any sudden unwarranted actions.

Travel mediums/planners have invested a lot of time in framing safe-guarded rules and policies around welcoming this young traveller on-board and the safe house that carries it.

Special precautions and extra measures are taken to ensure safety of the special lady.

Apart from passenger safety and special attention, the pregnant-in-command must also take extra care of do’s and don’ts while on a journey through any mode.

If she is aware of safe-travel tips during these times, it supplements the authorities to assist them better and provide hassle free journey.

Safety Advice: The 1st and 3rd trimester demand extra care and caution in travelling, uneasy at the beginning while weight sensitive towards the end! Avoid travelling during this period!

 

We both await

 

 

Is it safe to travel during pregnancy?

Yes, definitely!

It depends on mother’s condition and pregnancy stage, though understandably, it sometimes becomes unavoidable. Precautions are to be taken in accordance to your comfort.

This ecstatic life-giving happiness has 3 terms, where you get a cute one as a certificate in the end!

The 1st trimester (First 3 months of pregnancy – Tiny pop to Week 14) – The Tricky one – is filled with excitement and bumpiness around what’s going on in your body. Very uncomfortable, nothing seems to make you smile, as you start repelling tastes and smells (which you loved earlier)

The 2nd trimester (Mid 3 months of pregnancy – Week 15 to Week 28) – ‘The Honeymoon of Pregnancy’ as it’s the least disturbing phase, where a mother enjoys her emotions to the fullest, best for travel or babymoon! You start craving cuisines that you never had (or heard)!

The 3rd trimester (Final 3 months of pregnancy – Week 29 – Baby-on-lap) – ‘The Exam of Pregnancy’ as it’s time for your cute one to see the world! An uneasy period, where you go through weight gain, swollen feet, a whole bunch of bashing from your little one inside!

 

Happy Fact: During early days, you may not discover you are pregnant until you are into 3rd Week. Be cautious before you plan travel!

 

Endless internal changes and developments make a mother go crazy. The by-product of all this happiness is

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Morning Sickness
  • Increased Urination
  • Heart Burn
  • Food Aversions
  • Smell Aversions
  • Constipation
  • Emotional Changes

 

Therefore, the common travel measures applicable across any transport mode for your journey are

  • Stay stress free, enjoy your baby’s first ever journey!
  • Carry enough stock of fresh fruits, light snacks and nuts to keep on munching until the journey ends
  • Carry a tissue roll (wet & dry) and a sanitizer all the time
  • Take your medicines and carry your test reports and medical certificates
  • Additionally, carry basic medicines for headache, vomit etc. (consult your obstetrician before taking them)
  • Have bottled water or carry boiled water
  • Have an alternate doctor’s contact of the place you are visiting
  • Take a pillow for back support (inflatable one, if that works)
  • Have your doctor’s number saved and assign a speed dial
  • Do not lift any heavy stuff, ask passengers or staff to help around
  • If travelling alone, always let 2 contacts know about your travel plans, as emergency
  • Carry a note in your bag having doctor’s detail, your blood group, emergency contact person’s details, your home and visiting address, your family member details along with their contact numbers
  • Always carry an extra battery or a power bank
  • Wear comfortable light clothing (preferably cotton)
  • Check expiry dates of all the consumables that you buy on-board
  • Purchase travel insurance (a mandate, go through fine prints)
  • If sitting for long durations, make sure you exercise you feet and ankle all the time to let the blood flow, this is very important for you and your little one inside

The above mentioned measures have to be adhered to by default, to minimise any risk stemming out of your own actions.

 

Road travel in pregnancy

This mode of journey is explorative and enticing, but not recommended when pregnant. The comfort of stopping over any time, is far outweighed by the cautions you need to follow while on road.

If self-driving, concentration on road and body simultaneously is challenging. Opt to have somebody drive you. Road & Traffic conditions are few of the many external uncontrollable factors. If it is the road-less-travelled, better off switching to other modes.

 

How to make my road travel enjoyable?

  • Advised not to consume roadside snacks
  • Take a note of all major hospital’s on way
  • Check GPS (Global Positioning System) before leaving to make sure there are no traffic diversions or jams
  • Make use of public toilets with tissues (as they might be unhygienic)
  • If you have a driver, sit on the rear seat to lessen the impact of jerks
  • Better to begin your journeys in the morning / afternoon to save yourself from any issue in dark
  • Keep a handy tool kit in case you encounter flat tyres or broke vehicle
  • Seat belts help you in all the cases, they help in absorbing shock and sudden jerks, thus it is advised to wear them all the time (have diagonal and cross-strap seat belts in your car)

Avoid self-drive by hiring a cab or a chauffeur / chauffeuse as that helps in breaking long tiring journeys into multiple stops and drivers.

 

Train Travel

 

Train travel in pregnancy

Rails tend to be more convenient and safer to travel as they offer stable momentum during a journey. A traveller has options to select from sleeping bed or chair car as per comfort and length of the journey.

The chair cars can be opened up as a semi-bed (extended reclining backrest) which gives you ample space to move your feet and ankles.

The expectant mother also has access to handy washroom to her comfort.

Having said all this, extra measures should always be taken to ensure smooth journey.

 

How to make my train journey admirable?

  • A train journey has certain measure of jerks and momentum swings, stay alert!
  • Minimise the impact of jerks by placing extra pillows and blankets around you
  • Reach your station early to avoid any hustle or rush, it is better to stay calm and relaxed
  • The wobbly effect of a moving train can be offset by holding objects around which act as shock absorbers
  • Have your luggage carried and tucked under your seat by a porter while boarding and de-boarding
  • Try to book trains which have lesser stops to your destination, considerably taking lesser time to reach
  • Do not try to walk through the train and its carriages when on the move
  • Inform the ticket checker in advance about your condition, as it helps in keeping a travelling doctor’s contact handy by surfing through his ticket list, or cross check if there is a railway doctor / train doctor available if required
  • Book a lower berth while reserving as it is comfortable to sit and move. If you don’t get, inform your ticket checker who may help in swapping with someone
    • To have your luck for availing lower berth while in pregnancy, try making your reservation under the option of ‘Lower Berth Quota’, though you need to show a certificate later to the ticket checker
  • Avoid having dairy products in rail meal as they deteriorate quickly and may cause uneasiness
  • Switch on your passage night-light before heading to washroom

 

Fact: For Pregnant Women, Senior Citizens and Female passengers above age 45, Indian Rail has a reservation of 4 lower berths in Non-AC class and 2 lower berths in each 2AC and 3AC classes

 

Flight Travel

 

Flight travel in pregnancy

Air travel allows you to reach your destination in the fastest possible way. But cabin air pressure, passing through x-ray machines, walking through endless airport corridors, radiation produced by aircraft signals and waiting for the aircraft can make you think twice.

Many airlines have different policies for pregnant ladies on-boarding their aircraft after 32 weeks. They seek medical and fitness certificates of the passenger, where a doctor’s fit-to-fly letter is a must.

 

How to have a hassle-free flight?

  • Check-in Aisle Seat with extra leg room (you might have to shell out extra, but it helps)
  • To avoid bloating, stay away from gas generating foods and drinks
  • The process of air journey is very dehydrating, keep your body adequately hydrated
  • As you have to be seated for maximum part of your journey, perform subtle exercises as mentioned above
  • Consider flight only when the journey is short, up to about 1.5 hours, else consider train
  • It is best advised to get a travel insurance. Read the policy fine prints to see till what weeks and how much has been covered for your pregnancy.

 

Important: If it’s an international travel, ask your doctor for any specific medications / vaccines you need to have before hitting the foreign land.

 

Few Airline Pregnancy Travel Policies

Jet AirwaysEmiratesIndigo

 

Bus travel in pregnancy

Travelling by bus is never suggested due to road quality, driving skills and speed bumps. As you stay seated behind, the passenger never comes to know the inertia of the vehicle. Unlike self-drive, you have no control on the vehicle and its momentum.

Hence you definitely experience jerks and lateral movements, leading to increased and sudden uncontrolled body movements.

Even if it’s for public transport within the city for short distances, a lady should still consider other options like hiring a cab or calling someone to drop you off! Board women-only buses for public transport as they are less-crowded.

Be it for inter-city or long distances, this mode is not really recommended at any stage of your pregnancy!

You might feel suffocated, fatigue and nauseated in the journey. Plus the swaying movements throughout the journey will make you crazy!

 

How to ensure a smooth bus ride?

Feeling terrified to take a bus? Humans are born to evolve, manage and face situations they are not comfortable in!

Still if this daring act has to be carried out (just unavoidable in some cases), below are the pointers to ponder over:

  • Try booking coaches which have in-built washroom / toilets (yes, they are available these days, though not on all routes and less frequent)
  • If it’s a seated coach, book a comfortable reclining seat
  • If it’s a sleeper coach, get a lower seat (ask for extra pillows to cushion yourself or carry one)
  • Let the staff know about your medical condition (probably during ticket booking / boarding)
  • Have some pre-research done on the route, what type of terrains are you crossing
  • Try to get a companion to avoid travelling alone
  • Ask for stopover points for washroom from the staff
  • Have a power bank, buses hardly come equipped with charging points

 

Sea Travel

 

Sea travel in pregnancy

Travelling by sea is another mode of transport used by people living in far islands to hop onto mainland for services. Pregnant ladies are ideally not suggested to travel using this as an option as the sea waves tend to be rough at times.

If you are in your 1st trimester, morning sickness may get worsen by the wavering movements of the boat / ship.

This unevenness creates uneasiness and a lot of discomfort among pregnant travellers as sudden bumps can be expected anytime. Though there are certain measures that you must take to calm down the nerves.

 

How to ensure I sail like a sailor?

  • Book a seat with sea operators who offer comfortable reclining seats
  • If you are booking a cabin, reserve the one with large beds
  • Reserve a place in the middle of ship, it offers more stability
  • Go with bigger ships, as they tend to be more steady and balanced
  • Have sea sickness medicines with you all the time (after consulting with your doctor)
  • Try to perform journeys which are up to a max of 2 hours
  • Confirm with staff whether you have a doctor-on-call on-board
  • Have a list of nearest sea ports in case of emergency
  • As you board, try those life jackets whether they fit in or needs adjustment

 

Fact: India has a very generous maternity leave policy of 26 weeks, miles ahead of other major nations across globe.

US: 12 weeks, China: 14 weeks, Singapore / France: 16 weeks, Brazil / Canada: 17 weeks

 

Worth Noting: Japan issues pregnant ladies a badge to make them easily identifiable in public places and transport. The idea is to offer them seats and priority, even though she would be in her early pregnancy fancying a small or no bump! (she may be shy to ask for seat too!)

The pregnancy bulge

 

Expectant Moms with any of the symptoms below should give a second thought on travelling plans

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Placental Problems
  • Hypertension
  • Multiple Pregnancies (more than one foetus)
  • Elder Pregnancy (age above 35)
  • Any issue with past pregnancy
  • Pre-eclampsia

 

Relax! Pregnancy travel is all safe, just be extra cautious and enjoy your journey!

In this nomadic and shrinking global world, everyone is bound to travel for livelihood. We cannot imagine a world of no-commute!

Understandably, a pregnant lady is also an employee, a woman, a mother who comes in same bracket. She has to be taken care of during this fabulous stage of her life. Giving birth is by no means an easy feat!

The joy of motherhood makes forget all the issues surrounding her! Lets make her pregnancy journey grand, by comforting her whenever possible.

For those who are reading this, give seats or help out pregnant ladies near you. They might be travelling alone, sitting just next to you.

 

For husbands having a pregnant wife, mood swings are part of normal behaviour! It’s the baby who is trying to tell you something through her. Be prepared! Do what she says!

 

Let me know your views on this article by commenting below.

Been through or going through this phase in your life (i wish you all the best), do share your suggestions so that it helps the community at large.

 

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