While travelling this festive season, moms-to-be are encouraged to take their extra passenger into account

A long car-, bus- or plane trip can increase the risk of complications for pregnant women and their unborn babies. While travelling this festive season, moms-to-be are encouraged to take their extra passenger into account.

It is safe for most pregnant women to travel while pregnant

“It is safe for most pregnant women to travel while pregnant, but there are some steps to take that help to ensure that both mom and baby travel safely and comfortably,” says Dr Howard Manyonga, obstetrician and head of The Birthing Team, an affordable maternity care programme for women on selected schemes and who aren’t on medical aid.

Good planning is an important part of a healthy pregnancy

“Good planning is an important part of a healthy pregnancy. A well-informed mom should be able to minimise their discomfort and reduce their risk during travel,” says Manyonga, who offers some festive season travel tips to expectant moms:

  • Keep moving: During long car-, bus- or plane trips, remember to stop, get up and move around regularly. Sitting still for long periods of time could be very uncomfortable and increases the risk of mom developing blood clots in her legs.
  • Wear your seatbelt right: Wear your seatbelt below and beside your belly, not across it. Never risk travel on the road without a seatbelt.
  • Avoid heavy lifting: Carrying heavy bags and boxes is a bad idea when you are pregnant, as your ligaments soften and you are more prone to injuries.
  • Plan bathroom breaks: While pregnant you need to drink plenty of water and will require more regular loo breaks. Take an aisle seat and plan to stop off at every garage to avoid discomfort.
  • Pack snacks: Low blood sugar levels are bad for you and your baby – make sure that you have healthy snacks to bridge the gaps between meals. This will also help if you start to feel nauseous.
  • Carry your prenatal records: Always have a copy of your latest antenatal record and test results from your medical team – just in case something goes wrong.

“We also recommend that pregnant women talk to their medical teams before taking long trips, especially by plane, to ensure that they take adequate preventative measures, which may include medication if the trip is more than four hours,” says Manyonga.

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The Birthing Team is currently operational at the Netcare Park Lane in Johannesburg, the Femina Hospital in Pretoria and JMH City Hospital in Durban.