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Travel Tips for Expectant Moms

Posted Jul 28 2010 9:36am

By Dr. Ari Brown and Dr. Michele  Hakakha
Adapted from the new book, “Expecting  411″

Pregnancy certainly affects the lives of expectant moms and dads, but it
doesn’t have to put a damper on your summer vacation  plans.
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about
traveling while pregnant that we hear from pregnant women every day in our
private practices.

Is it safe for me to travel while pregnant? Are all forms of
transportation safe?

We don’t recommend hot air  balloons or camels, but most conventional
modes of transportation are safe. If you have a “high risk” pregnancy or are
carrying multiples, your  doctor may have a different restriction date in
mind, so ask him or her for  recommendations tailored to your specific health
profile. Here are some general  guidelines:

·         You can travel by plane up to  your 36th week — but check
individual airline policies, which may  vary.
·         For cruises, the last acceptable  time frame is 23-27 weeks,
depending on the cruise line.
·         If you are going by bus, train,  or driving, stay at least 1
hour away from a hospital. Camping in a remote area,  for example, is not
advisable. You can travel by car right up to the end of your  delivery
date, but
try to stay an hour away from your doctor or delivery  hospital.
How can I stay  healthy while pregnant and traveling?
·         If you are going to the  mountains, swimming in the ocean, or
walking around a new city, watch for signs  of getting short of breath. If
you feel tired, stop!
·         If you’ll be out in the hot sun,  drink extra water, stay out of
the direct sun during peak hours, and pack plenty  of sunblock, hat, and
·         Always keep a bottle of pure  water with you. Avoid plastic
bottles with #7 on the bottom — these may contain  Bisphenol-A (BPA),
which has been shown to harm people and fetuses.
·         Avoid unpasteurized delicacies,  raw fish or meat, and in
international destinations, water and fresh fruit and  veggies.
·         Keep a stash of healthy snacks  with you on road, plane, and
train trips so you can avoid getting famished and  then seeking relief in
convenience food, hotel snacks, and junk food binges.  Healthy snacks
might include: yogurt, small containers of unsweetened rice  pudding, almonds
and walnuts, apples, carrots, almond butter on whole grain  bread, cheese and
whole grain crackers, hummus and veggie dippers, and cherries,  berries, and red
·         When ordering from restaurants,  don’t be shy about “special
ordering.” Pregnancy is one of the few times when  waiters will give you a
break. Keep your food choices healthy — grilled fish or  poultry, whole
grains such as rice, steamed vegetables, and salad will give you  and baby
exactly what you need to stay energized.
·         Take frequent pit stops for  bathroom and leg stretching.
·         Bring an extra suitcase filled  with favorite pillows — such as

a body pillow designed for pregnancy back  relief — so you’ll be

comfortable no matter where you rest your  head.

·         If you’re sightseeing, such as  seeing art treasures in amuseum, take advantage of couches and seats and  appreciate the art from a sitting position from time to time. This will keep  your back from aching later on.
·         Wear practical shoes and  comfortable clothes.
What are  potential health hazards for you and your unborn baby while
traveling or  visiting spas?
·         These are okay: bug spray, airport  x-rays and scanners (it
takes 2,500 exposures in one year to get a harmful  dose), sunblock (wear #20 or
higher), spray-on tans, massages (but no electric  or warming blankets,
massage of the inner or outer ankle bones, or the webbing  between thumb
and finger, and no essential oils), facials (but no Retin A,  Accutane, or
large amounts of salicylic acid), manicures and pedicures in a  well-ventilated
room, chemical peels (but only superficial peels that use  glycolic acid,
TCA, or lactic acid), and hair highlights (but not full hair  dying where
chemicals touch the scalp).
·         These are NOT okay: Mudbaths,  paraffin wraps, seaweed wraps,
hot tubs, saunas, tanning beds, hair jobs (perms,  relaxers, Japanese hair
straightening), laser hair removal, electrolysis,  bleaching creams, and

Do you have  any more tips before I go on vacation?

Purchase travel insurance. It’s a small investment that can save you big
time. Your unborn baby doesn’t care that you’ve planned this family
reunion for  more than a year. She is on her own time schedule, and might decide
to attend  the reunion uninvited.
* * * * *
Dr. Michele Hakakha is an award-winning obstetrician/gynecologist
practicing in Beverly Hills, CA. Dr. Ari Brown, MD, FAAP, is a
pediatrician in  Austin, TX, an official spokesperson for the American Academy of
Pediatrics, the children’s health expert for WebMD, and a medical advisor for Parents
Magazine and ABC News. A past  guest on Rachael Ray and NBC’s Today Show,
Dr. Brown penned  the best-selling Baby 411 and Toddler 411 book series before
coauthoring the new title with Dr. Hakakha, Expecting 411: Clear Answers &

Smart  Advice for Your Pregnancy (Windsor Peak Press, 2010,–the only pregnancy guide written by two MDs who are
also  moms.

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