In Nigeria, it is not in our custom to advice pregnant women to travel for any reason. Still pregnant women do have to travel; either to stay with their parents, attend a family reunion/function, to handle work-related issues or a million other reasons.
For first time pregnant traveller- or even frequent traveller-, we have created a check-list of things you should know to ensure you don’t compromise your health and that of your unborn child.
Here are our top 8 tips for pregnant travellers:
- Plan On Time
Travelling can be a cause for anxiety, especially when you add the dynamics of being pregnant to it. Choosing the best time to travel helps you reduce this stress. The recommended time to travel while pregnant is during the second trimester (14 – 28 weeks). Although this primarily depends on the individual pregnancy. Some women breeze through the first trimester without morning sickness, nausea, or any pregnancy symptom, while the same can’t be said for the other majority. If it is a low-risk pregnancy, then any time you choose is okay as long as you take the precautions we listed below. Speak with your Doctor before embarking on any trip, this a is a golden rule. When you choose a transport or hotel service, choose those that offer a refund if you decide to cancel at the last minute. Do not travel to places with disease outbreaks, high mosquito infestation or high risk of getting an infection, like Lassa fever. Get to the park, airport or station on time so you don’t feel rushed before the journey begins.
- Choose Your Mode Of Transportation Wisely
It’s best to keep travel trips within a maximum of 4-5 hours, that way you don’t put too much strain on your body. If you are travelling by air, take a seat by the aisle so it’s easy to move around when necessary. Even though aeroplanes are a faster means of travelling, get ready to encounter challenges like cabin compression or Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) which can affect your blood flow. (This is one reason why you need to speak with your doctor before embarking on a trip.) Besides, most airlines won’t allow you fly when you are over 35 weeks or less than 15 weeks along. Boat cruises can be slow, so it’s not usually recommended; the sooner you get to your destination, the better. Road transport is also a safe way to travel, just make sure you can easily take breaks to pee or stretch your legs when necessary. Strap yourself in if needed. Make sure the shoulder strap is across your chest and the lower belt is below your abdomen. Avoid travelling during rainy season unless you trust the discipline of the transport service’s drivers.
- Pack light
Pregnant women should not do heavy lifting. This makes packing light is a necessary decision. Packing light will also reduce the burden of doing laundry when you get to your destination. If you are staying longer than a week, take clothes that can accommodate your bump perfectly. For example, an ankara bubu, a loose chiffon top/dress shirt or a lycra-infused LBD. Also, jazz up your look with accessories and light make-up. Do not pack any toiletry or items you can get at your destination.
- Wear Simple comfortable clothing to travel
The key word when dressing to travel is comfort, especially when you’re pregnant. The body-temperatures of a pregnant woman tends to fluctuate occasionally. So when travelling, it is important to wear loose clothing that can be layered in the event you start feeling cold under the Air Conditioning or reduced in the reverse case. You can wear stretchy fabrics with elastic waistbands, loose fitted tops like a jersey top or a loose cotton maxi dress. Another great option includes jumpsuits, pullover cardigans paired with comfortable shoes you can easily wear or take off without bending down (like sandals, slip-on’s, pumps or trainers) in case your feet swells.
- Don’t get involved in strenuous activities
Some pregnancies are so breezy that the expectant mothers forget to be mindful of the daily strain on their bodies. So while travelling, it’s important to avoid strenuous activities, like long sightseeing tours. Also, stay out of hot tubs or saunas especially if you stay over at a hotel when you are in transit during a flight. That’s because extreme heat is not good for the baby. Make out time to literally put your feet up and relax; this works if you are sitting in the buckle seat on an aeroplane or close to the aisle in a bus. Take a travel pillow if you have one to relieve your neck during the journey. And don’t resist the urge to sleep as much as possible during the trip. It will give you the energy you need for the hours you are awake.
- Mind what you eat
Ensure the water you drink is clean. If you don’t trust the brand of water you might see on the road, carry your own bottled water and make sure you sip it often to keep you hydrated throughout the trip. Avoid eating gassy foods (like beans, cabbage, etc.), drinking fizzy drinks or carbonated beverages (e.g. caffeine) that can make you gassy and uncomfortable during the trip. If you must eat them, make sure you take them at least 24 hours before your trip. Carry your own snacks with you for the trip, even if you are taking a flight and the airline has meals. Having nutritious snacks close-by will keep the hunger pangs at bay whenever they arise. That way you don’t have to depend on the airline or bus schedules to eat something. You can snack on nuts, hard-boiled eggs, protein bars, whole grain biscuits, etc. If the turbulence of the trip makes you nauseated, you can try buying some ginger candy/supplements to take with you or sparkling water to sip on.
- Stay Clean
Always keep a hand sanitizer or antiseptic wipes nearby when you travel. When your bus stops briefly for a restroom break – like they usually do at Ore when you are travelling from Benin to Lagos or Ekiti – make sure you wash your hand after you relieve yourself. Also, make a habit of washing your hands regularly; before and after you eat or any time you touch something dirty or dusty.
- Keep your prenatal documents & drugs nearby
Prepare for possible emergencies by keeping your prenatal documents and a medical kit of your drugs close-by when you travel. That way, if you get unconscious from an accident or allergy, the first responders will know you are pregnant and what types of medications you are on. Know where you can get prenatal drugs at your destination or during the journey in case you need to restock. Ask your doctor to recommend a flu/cold medication to take in case you run into people with a cold either on the trip or at your destination. Make sure you have a health plan (like being signed with a HMO) and extra cash for health insurance. Having health insurance is necessary for those travelling abroad. Also, decide which hospital you can go to when you arrive at your destination if anything happens while travelling.
That’s our top 8 tips for pregnant travellers. Have you ever travelled while pregnant? What was it like? Is there a tip we missed that came in handy for you? Share your stories with us in the comment section.
Feature Image: biznakenya.com