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Road Tripping While Pregnant

Hitting the road is possible for moms-to-be, as long as they exercise caution. Follow these simple guidelines for car travel safety while pregnant.

 

My first pregnancy was a breeze. Sure, I had the usual morning sickness (and what a lie that is—it lasts all the livelong day) and some minor aches and pains. But for the most part, carrying my daughter was super easy.

I was one of those moms-to-be that everyone hates. I didn’t show until late in my sixth month, and I walked around smugly wondering aloud why anyone would complain about having a baby in your belly.

My sister was the exact opposite, and her pregnancies were plagued with nausea and other issues throughout the entire nine months.

She hated gestating, and I often mocked her for her cranky behavior.

“I don’t know what you’re complaining about,” I said to her over the phone. “This pregnancy thing is no big deal.”

“I hate you,” she responded.

Fast-forward three years. I’m six months pregnant with my second, and it has been HELL. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that I have a storehouse full of guilt to lay on this kid when he finally comes out.

Like, say, the time I had to have my bladder scoped and the doctor exclaimed, “Your bladder is almost flat! You must have to pee all the time!

And then I accidentally kicked him in the head.

I kid, I kid.

So you can only imagine how enthused I was when we decided to take our daughter to visit her paternal grandfather in Cleveland for Memorial Day, when I was wrestling with a bad case of gestational diabetes and severe anemia.

I tried to convince my husband that I couldn’t travel, but as it turns out, I can. Drat!

Exercise Caution

Dr. Nicole Karjane is an assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology, with a joint appointment in Pediatrics, at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., and a mother of three, and she says pregnancy does not have to put an end to your wanderlust.

But there are special precautions women should take before they hit the open road with a bun in the oven.

“If you are traveling in the third trimester, it’s probably a good idea to get a copy of your prenatal records just in case you have a problem or go into labor while you’re away,” Karjane advises. “While traveling, make sure to wear your seatbelt, drink plenty of fluids and get out and stretch at least every two to four hours to try to prevent blood clots in the legs.”

As for wearing your seatbelt, be sure to sling the belt low and snug around your hips, she adds.

“If you place (your seatbelt) over your belly, it can actually cause damage to the uterus and the baby if you are in a collision,” she explains. “With the seatbelt properly placed across your hip bones, it will keep you restrained and minimize the risk to the baby.”

Hipbones? I can’t even locate my hipbones right now.

What to Do If You’re In an Accident

Karjane says any pregnant woman involved in a car accident should seek obstetrical care at a hospital right away, to ensure there is no problem with the pregnancy.

“This is especially true if there has been any abdominal trauma or if it was a high speed collision because these put the woman at risk for placental abruption (when the placenta becomes detached from the uterus), which can be life threatening for the fetus and mom in some cases,” she says. “In very mild fender-benders (very low speed, no real trauma) the risk is generally minimal, but if the woman experiences contractions, bleeding, or doesn't feel the baby move well, she needs medical attention right away. Even in these minor accidents, it's usually a good idea to get checked out.”

On the other hand, most road travel is safe. As long as you aren’t too close to your due date (Karjane recommends staying put after your 37th week, although many obstetricians will tell you to curtail travel after week 34), you should be fine.

Road Trip Guidelines for Pregnant Passengers

To make sure you have as comfortable and safe trip as possible, here are a few general guidelines to follow, in addition to drinking plenty of fluids and getting enough stretch time:

  • Don’t travel alone, especially long distances.
  • Be careful lifting heavy luggage and other items.
  • Don’t travel to remote areas where medical care is difficult to access.
  • Go ahead and take the wheel, but not if you take medications that make you even slightly drowsy.
  • And finally, always consult your doctor before you plan to leave home.

My own personal tips? Bring plenty of snacks, and take pillows with you. You’ll be thanking me when your back is aching six hours into that 12-hour drive.

As for the snacks, I hear chocolate has medicinal properties. Eat some for me, OK? Because I can’t. You know, the diabetes.

Damn kids. Good thing they’re so stinkin’ cute. 


Themes: Family Travel


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