Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘you are not supposed to travel when you are pregnant’? Although we know pregnant women can travel safely, ( https://connectnigeria.com/articles/2018/09/__trashed-20/), people discourage travelling because Pregnancy is such a complicated issue, and no one wants to compound it with the stress of being far from one’s comfort zone. Sometimes, the trip can be dangerous for the unborn child. Though you (the mother) might be fine, the same may not be the case for your baby.
So here are 9 reasons why travelling is ill-advised for pregnant women.
- Low Immune System
Pregnant women have a low immune system and although they stock up on vitamins, they are prone to illnesses. A plethora of germs are naturally in the atmosphere but travelling increases the risks of being exposed to new strains. You may end up mingling with fellow passengers who carry all sorts of sicknesses from a cough to flu or more. Not to mention the locals you will meet at the foreign destination. So if you must travel, make sure you take good care of yourself and boost your immune system.
- Unpredictable Delivery
There are many rules about the best time to travel. Some say you shouldn’t travel till you are over 15 weeks so you don’t have a miscarriage or vaginal bleeding. Others say don’t travel after 24 weeks to avoid preterm delivery or over 35 weeks so you don’t have contraindications like leaking water/bleeding or going into labour while in transit. The reason being if you run into complications in a place with poor neonatal facilities, it might cost you the life of your child. And since you don’t travel in isolation, your situation might cause your transport vehicle to stop midway or make an emergency landing (if you are in flight). This will be a huge inconvenience to other passengers or can even put them at risk.
- Mode of Transportation Challenges
If you are travelling when you are pregnant, make sure you are not one to react to motion sickness. For high-risk pregnancies like pre-eclampsia, ectopic pregnancy, rising blood pressure issues or even diabetes, taking flights is a no-no because of the high altitudes. Pregnancy already comes with its own baggage of nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea so to compound it with a norovirus infection (which most cruise lines have) would just be awful. If it is a short boat cruise like the types organised in Lagos when you are going to a place like Inagbe resort, then make sure you take your medications with you. If it is an extended cruise and there is an outbreak, consult your Gynaecologist ASAP.
Travelling for long hours stresses your body so does having a full itinerary when you travel for short period. To avoid fatigue, travel for shorter hours. E.g. a trip from Benin to Warri is okay compared to Benin to Calabar which is over 4 hours. If you must travel, spend shorter time visiting tourist attractions, take out time to rest when engaging in adventure activities like hiking and have your activities well spaced out so you have enough time to rest during the duration of your vacation.
- Medical Coverage Issues
Sometimes you may forget your medical papers when you travel causing you to do tests all over again at a travel destination. If you are among those under NHIS or some HMO coverage, they might not cover your bills in a hospital that is not in their list. You may need to consider this issue and adequately arrange for medical coverage in case of an emergency. That way, unpredictable labour will not lead to being detained by the hospital staffs until someone pays the bills.
- Heavy Luggage
To travel is to carry boxes or luggage of things you’ll need to stay comfortable. Sometimes the weight of the box makes the luggage heavy even when you pack light. Dragging a box around – no matter how light – for a long period can translate into heavy lifting which puts a strain on the muscles of pregnant women. So we recommend a lightweight carry-on for flights. Lightly packed travel bags are more suited for road transport.
For Nigerians travelling abroad, taking vaccines (like yellow fever vaccine) is a requirement for entry into some countries. When you are pregnant and in doubt of the effect of certain vaccines on your unborn child, it is best you don’t travel to those locations. Avoid any location that is known for having a viral outbreak like Zika Virus which can directly affect your child or any disease which you might not treat so the treatment doesn’t end up hurting the baby.
Sitting in one place for a long time is not good for pregnant women because their bodies will swell which leads to discomfort. Other health issues that can arise include a high risk of blood clots and formation of varicose veins. Not to mention sitting in places with no leg room, narrow aisles, or uncomfortable lavatories. You need to move around often so choose a transport system that reduces travel time or makes breaks long enough to shake those legs and move around.
- Stomach Troubles
What’s the fun in travelling and not being able to eat the local or exotic delicacies offered? Oh, the joys of travelling to the East and eating Afang soup. For pregnant women, their agony will be seeing great local cuisine but not being able to touch it or indulge their taste buds. Raw foods and cooked foods whose source or cooking environment can’t be verified are no-gos for pregnant women. Even drinking water from another town/destination can be dangerous for a pregnant woman. It could cause diarrhoea and vomiting which can leave her dehydrated and weak that’s why pregnant women are advised to have their own water with them when they travel.