Published November 02, 2011
Planning a visit with family over the holidays? Or maybe a babymoon to the Caribbean? A vacation is the perfect time to take a break from all the baby planning and an opportunity to rejuvenate before you’re knee-deep in diapers, round the clock feedings, and sleepless nights.
But before you pack your bags, take a few extra precautions that can ensure you and your baby are safe and healthy. Here are some things to consider. Bon voyage!
1. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the second trimester is the safest time to fly because the risks of miscarriage and preterm labor are lower during these months. Plus, if you fly during the third trimester, especially after 36 weeks, the chances are higher that you could go into labor (gasp!) mid-flight or have to deliver in a foreign hospital that may not have the proper medical care you need. If you plan to fly in your third trimester, check with your airline about restrictions and if they require a doctor’s note.
When you’re on the flight, be sure to get up, flex your legs, and walk around every hour. Drink lots of water, avoid wearing restrictive clothing, and consider wearing compression stockings to decrease your risk of getting a blood clot. And don’t forget your seat belt in case of turbulence.
2. According to Dr. Melinda Velez, an OB-GYN at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center in Mansfield, Texas, “If you’re going to be traveling out of the country, you need to be planning well in advance.” Velez recommends speaking with your doctor at least a month before your trip to make sure your vaccines are up to date. If you’re planning to visit a place where diseases like malaria and yellow fever are endemic, it’s best to avoid the trip altogether. But if you must travel, be sure to wear protective clothing, use insect repellant, sleep with bed nets, and ask your doctor about vaccinations and drugs that prevent these diseases.
3. Twenty to 50 percent of people traveling internationally develop travelers’ diarrhea (TD) each year, particularly at destinations in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And if you’re pregnant, the consequences could be serious: cramping, contractions, and pre-term labor. Your best defense is to drink bottled water, bottled or canned carbonated beverages. Eat meals that are thoroughly cooked and served hot and fruit that you can wash and peel yourself. Avoid food from street vendors or food that has been sitting out for hours. Ask your doctor for a prescription for Zithromax and bring Imodium and oral rehydration solutions to treat TD if you do get it.
4. Between waiting at the airport, transferring to your hotel, and time spent sightseeing, it could be hours before your next meal and the drop in blood sugar will leave you feeling nauseous, tired, and shaky. Be sure to eat a snack every three to four hours. Good choices include nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, cheese sticks, or beef jerky.
5. A good rule of thumb when it comes to activities, is if you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it on vacation. “All of the usual travel-related problems are magnified,” said Dr. Phyllis Kozarsky, a consultant at the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the Centers for Disease Control and Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Emory University School of Medicine. So although it may be okay to go on a cruise ship or a walking tour, postpone the water skiing and rock climbing until after you’ve delivered.
6. Before you buy your tickets, find out if your medical insurance will cover your expenses if you or your baby requires emergency care. Consider purchasing a supplemental policy that covers overseas travel. Also, contact the American embassy who can refer you to doctors and hospitals or a travel medicine provider before you leave.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, and women's issues, a certified Spinning® instructor, and a mom. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com