Being pregnant during the holidays brings its own set of challenges whether you’re traveling to visit family and friends or just looking to get away.
But there are steps you can take to have a safe and healthy trip when expecting, according to Robyn Horsager-Boehrer, M.D., Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and member of the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Medical Director of the High-Risk Pregnancy Genetics Program, and Chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital.
- Pay attention to how you are feeling, especially in the first trimester. If you are experiencing morning sickness, you may not find it comfortable to be a guest in someone else’s home. Shared bathrooms, strange cooking scents, and difficulty planning your eating schedule can be stressful. The fatigue that’s common in the first trimester also can make traveling difficult.
- Consider your previous pregnancies. If you had an earlier preterm delivery or another high-risk condition, it may be best to stay close to home.
- In general, it’s a good idea to avoid being too far from home after the 36-week mark. If you are flying somewhere, be sure to check the policies for your airline, which may require medical documentation proving you are cleared for travel.
- Whether flying or driving, be sure to wear support stockings, move your legs periodically, and stay hydrated to minimize the risk of blood clots.
- Carry snacks and any medications you might need with you in case of travel delays or other problems.
- Wash your hands regularly. It’s still the most effective method of reducing the risk of catching and spreading viruses such as the flu, COVID-19, the common cold, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
- Take an updated copy of your medical records. If there is an emergency, a doctor can use your records to understand how far along you are, what medicines you’re taking, and how to contact your physician. Or, if available, take advantage of online patient portals that link to your medical records.
- If you are taking a cruise, be sure to check for the company’s policies on pregnancy since medical staff is limited at sea. Note that most major cruise lines do not accept passengers during or past 24 weeks. Passengers also face the risk of seasickness as well as food-related challenges due to the abundance of not-so-friendly foods for those who are pregnant such as soft cheeses and deli meats. They can harbor the Listeria bacteria, which can lead to listeriosis, a serious infection that can cause flu-like illness and may lead to pregnancy complications.
Always consult with your health care provider. It’s better to ask than to worry.