"If she is having a healthy pregnancy and her doctor has expressed no concerns about travel, a mom-to-be can continue to travel until about the 36th week of pregnancy," says Karon Foster, a registered nurse and a parenting expert with Invest in Kids, a national charity dedicated to transforming the way Canadian parents are educated and supported. "However, it is safest to do any air travel during the second trimester (18 to 24 weeks). This is when there is a lower risk of miscarriage or premature labour."
8 tips for safe and comfortable travel
The experts at Invest in Kids have collected several tips to keep in mind when traveling while pregnant.
1. While air travel may be safe for many woman up until 36 weeks of gestation, individual airlines may have their own policies in regard to pregnant passengers. For instance, some airlines may request a letter from your doctor if you wish to fly during the eighth or ninth month of your pregnancy. Be sure you are aware of such policies before you book your ticket.
2. Most obstetricians advise against travel beyond a 100-mile radius after 28 weeks. This is due to an increased risk of premature labour and the possibility of developing hypertension or blood clots in the leg veins.
3. Traditional airport X-ray devices are shielded and don’t pose a risk to Mom or Baby. Similarly, metal detectors are safe.
4. In 2001 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advised that occasional airline travel by pregnant women generally poses little risk of radiation exposure to developing fetuses.
5. When flying, ask for an aisle seat so you can walk around the cabin every 20 to 30 minutes, if possible. Stretch, and perform isometric leg exercises (tighten and relax) every 15 minutes or so, especially during long flights. This will help decrease the risk of clotting and dilated veins.
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6. Fasten your seatbelt under your abdomen and across the top of your thighs.
7. Drink plenty of fluids, such as water, juice or milk in-flight, as the low humidity in the cabin can be dehydrating.
8. If you are having a difficult pregnancy or any medical complications, be sure to consult with your care provider before planning any travel.
5 travel tips for the car
If you are driving to your travel destination here are some other helpful tips.
1. Be sure to wear a seatbelt. Even if it's uncomfortable over your belly, it's important that you continue to buckle up. Pregnant drivers who are involved in a car crash while not wearing a seatbelt are more likely to give birth within 48 hours of the crash, and twice as likely to have excessive maternal bleeding. Worst of all, it's nearly three times more likely that the baby will have serious complications.
2. Three-point restraints are the preferred seatbelt during pregnancy.
3. The lap strap should go under your belly, across your hips and as high as possible over your thighs. The shoulder strap should fit between your breasts and off to the side of your belly. Seat belt straps should never go directly across your abdomen.
4. Air bags should not be disabled while you are pregnant, but adjust your seat so that there are 25 centimetres between you and the air bag.
5. If possible, adjust the steering wheel so that it does not rest tight against your belly. Tiltable steering wheels should be tilted toward the chest, not the abdomen or head.
You can find more great pregnancy advice here.
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Visit investinkids.ca for more information, tips and activities for expectant parents and parents with young children.