Warning for Pregnant Moms Traveling to South America

Since posting this article, the CDC has issued an official warning for all pregnant women traveling to areas where the Zika virus has been infecting people. You can read more about the current situation here and find specific information on updated travel destinations here. The only way to avoid catching the Zika virus is avoid mosquito bites! Updated March 1st, 2016

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Since this is a travel blog for mothers, I think it is really important to share with you a potential risk associated with traveling to certain regions of South America. Are you a pregnant mom traveling to South America? Do you know a pregnant mom that will be traveling to South America? Here is what you need to know.

warning for traveling pregnant women

According to this article on NBC News:

U.S. health officials are considering a travel warning about Zika virus, the once obscure virus rapidly spreading across Latin America and the Caribbean that experts fear may cause birth defects.

It’s not clear what the officials will tell people just yet, because so little is known about the virus, which is spread by mosquitoes. But evidence is growing that it may cause a catastrophic birth defect called microcephaly.

“We are in the process of developing a travel warning not only for pregnant women, but for everybody,” said Dr. Lyle Petersen, who heads the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s division on diseases carried by mosquitoes and other insects and animals.

Not An Official Warning

At this point, you will have to decide what to do about your future travel plans if you are pregnant and planning to head to any of the countries where the Zika virus has been found. At this point there isn’t an official warning that officially discourages you from traveling to specific regions while pregnant. So far, the most cases of infant linked Microcephaly have been found in Brazil. But according to this article by the New York Times, there are quite a few countries on the list of countries that potentially contain Zika infested areas:

Although the travel advice would most obviously apply to Brazil, which is struggling with an alarming surge in newborns with microcephaly, it could soon apply to much of tropical Latin America and the Caribbean.

Local transmission of Zika virus has been found in 14 Western Hemisphere countries and territories: Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Suriname and Venezuela.

I’m not saying that you should panic and cancel your plans, but I believe this story is worth further investigation and monitoring.

Safe travels,

Kristin

Traveling While Pregnant: By Plane (Guest Post)

Kαλή εβδομάδα (happy week)!!

I am so excited to introduce Sprouts En Route’s first guest blogger of the year, Autumn Wallace! Autumn has grown up traveling and is now getting ready to welcome her first child into the world! She is such a smart and wonderful young woman, I was really excited to be able to have her write a guest post. I thought she would be a perfect candidate to write about traveling on an airplane while pregnant since she just did it herself while moving from Budapest, Hungary to Arizona. I had the pleasure of meeting Autumn at the Bible College that Travis and I attended a few years ago. Since then Autumn has gotten married and is now expecting her first baby, a little boy! If you want to know more about her, please check out her blog here. I personally follow it and always enjoy reading her posts.

P.S. Autumn and I both are married to men named Travis. Super fun, right? 

And without further ado, here is Autumn, enjoy!!

Autumn, her husband Travis, and their little bun in the oven, Jeremiah Scott.
Autumn, her husband Travis, and their little bun in the oven, Jeremiah Scott.

Hi everyone !

My name is Autumn and Kristin asked me to share my experiences on traveling by plane during pregnancy. I am super honored and I hope that you will have a positive and comfortable experience. Any kind of travel requires planning, however flying during a pregnancy requires a bit of research, extra preparation, and a trip to the doctor’s office.

The first step of preparation is to look into your airlines policies regarding pregnant women. For most airlines you may fly up to 28 weeks without a doctors note, but you are required to have a doctors note after your 28th week and you may fly up to 36 weeks for a single, non-complicated pregnancy. I flew when I was 20 weeks pregnant and I still asked for a doctors note, just in case, which was a good decision because we were asked how far along I was and if I had a note from my doctor.

About a week before you fly I highly suggest taking extra good care of yourself! Get plenty of rest, drink water, eat healthy, be vigilant about your pre natal vitamins, and take your limit of vitamin C! I got 250mg tablets and popped those a few times a day. I also bought oranges and grapefruits, those were my snacks for the week.

I also took into consideration what I was going to wear. I knew that I wanted to be comfortable but stylish so I would feel a bit better about myself. I opted for maternity tights, a knee-length maternity dress, cardigan, scarf and flats. I was very comfortably warm, nothing was constricting my blood flow, and I felt very fresh the entire trip.

We had a 5 hour layover in London, Heathrow, which was plenty of time to make it to our connecting flight. We treated ourselves to a nice, light lunch at Gordan Ramsey’s restaurant, a Starbucks, and a few leisurely walks around our terminal. I was also drinking a ton of water during that five hour period, and making sure I was absolutely hydrated for the long haul. Our flight from London to Phoenix was ten hours long, and I knew that I wanted to drink at the very least 2 and a half liters of water during that flight. This was not only for hydration purpose but also to make sure I was getting up and moving around. Every hour or so, I would make a point to get up do a lap or two around our cabin and then go back to my seat and stretch. I felt a little silly, however when I made eye contact with a lady a few rows down doing the same thing, I felt less silly! I knew that what I was doing was healthy for me and my baby, and that I would feel better once we landed.

After landing in Phoenix, my mother in law commented at how refreshed and glowing I looked, and oddly enough I felt really great! I adjusted to the time difference much easier than I ever had before and jet lag was not really a problem. In fact my husband struggled a lot more than I did, I blame it on the fact that he did not drink nearly as much water nor move around as much as I did. These things are really important to travel, pregnant or not!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and I hope that you will find yourself in the midst of a pleasant trip!
God Bless!

Love,
Autumn

Thanks so much Autumn for your insights!! I’m sure all of the readers of SER appreciate them as well. So next time you are getting ready to travel pregnant make sure to pamper yourself, hydrate, move around, and wear layers so you can change what you are wearing as your temperature fluctuates! For most posts about traveling while pregnant, check out the series page.

Happy travels!!

Traveling While Pregnant: Packing Your Hospital Bag

The most important trip you are going to take your whole pregnancy is to the hospital to have your little bundle of joy! Having been through three different births in two different countries, I can remember the things I’ve used in my bags, and the things I didn’t. What you pack in your hospital bag for labor and delivery also depends a lot on the hospital you will be having your baby at. If your hospital allows you to bring a bag into the delivery room, then you can pack things that will help you be more comfortable during labor. If they do not allow you to bring anything into the delivery room (like the hospital I delivered at last week) then you really only need to focus on the things you will use in recovery. So here we go… let’s figure out what you need in your hospital bag.

Use a bag that is easy to carry, like an oversized purse or overnight bag instead of a bulky suitcase.

Step 1: Figure out what you are allowed to bring to the hospital, and what they already provide.

You need to find out if they allow you to bring things into delivery. If they do, here are some things you should think about bringing to help you during labor:

-Hard Candies. These provide sugar which equals energy, and sucking on something can also ward off nausea… especially peppermint or spearmint candies.

-Music. If you can bring an iPod or a CD (some hospitals have CD players in their delivery rooms), music is something that can serve as a focal point when you are trying to focus on something other than the pain from your contractions. This is a great way to deal with pain… find songs that have inspirational lyrics and focus on the words of the song during each contraction.

-A Rice Buddy. (A rice buddy is a fabric square filled with rice that you can either freeze or heat) Heat is a wonderful feeling during back contractions (also known as back labor) and a rice buddy can be easily warmed in any microwave the hospital has available. Just be careful it isn’t too hot because when you are in labor your other senses may work more or less… meaning you might not know your rice buddy is burning your skin. Have someone else test it out for you.

-A Tennis Ball. This is great for your support person to use for back pressure… they can simply press the ball into your lower back.

-Straws! It is much easier to drink out of a straw than it is out of a cup, and when you are in labor you need to stay hydrated.

 

Ok so now that we got through the things you should bring into the delivery room (if you can), let’s talk about things the hospital might provide.

You should always ask at the hospital what things they will have for you when you are recovering. This list usually includes diapers for your baby while you are there, feminine pads (the giant monster ones), mesh panties, and if you are lucky a squirt bottle. I am going to include these things in the list of things you need for recovery while in the hospital, but if your hospital already covers them for you, feel free to leave them off of your list. I always bring extra of these things anyways, just in case.

Things you need to bring to the hospital for your recovery from labor:

-Comfy Pajamas (with buttons on the front top for breastfeeding friendliness). Make sure that you have two or three pairs because one of them is likely to get dirty. I recommend a top and loose fitting shorts because they give you more privacy, and you won’t have to constantly have your sheet on when you have visitors.

-Slippers. Not all hospitals provide those slipper socks, and it’s better to have slippers with hard bottoms on them anyway, so if you step in some mystery liquid, it doesn’t get all over your foot… gross.

-Toiletries. A lot of hospitals provide toothpaste and things like that, but I always bring my own travel bag with toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, body soap, and face wash.

-Hair brush and ties. I usually bring a few pony tails bands and a headband to keep my hair off of my face.

-Squirt Bottle or Wet Wipes. A bottle with a squirt top is great for cleaning “down there” after you have a baby… even if you end up with a cesarean you will be sore and tender so you don’t want to use toilet paper. If you don’t want to use a squirt bottle, I would go with wet wipes that have chamomile or witch hazel in them for added soothing qualities.

-A Good Nursing Bra or Nursing Tank Top. This makes breastfeeding so much easier, and will be nice when your boobs start leaking… which leads me to…

-Breast Pads. My favorite disposable brand is Medela. You can also sew your own reusable ones out of cotton as well.

-A Small Towel or Burp Cloth. For baby spit ups or anything like that.

-Normal Sized Pads for wearing home.

-A fun book or magazine for down time when your baby is sleeping… newborns do a lot of that.

-Clothes for your baby to go home in, and a blanket for going home to keep your new squishy bundle warm.

-Clothes and Shoes to wear home. I chose a breastfeeding dress and flip flops.

-A Plastic Bag to store dirty clothes in. That way your dirty clothes don’t get your clean clothes all yucky when they are all together in your bag.

So there you go… that is the short list. It may seem like a lot, but I fit a lot of the toiletry and hair stuff in my bathroom bag.

Step 2: Pack your bag. Sorry I can’t really do that for you, lol, but I will recommend that you use something that is light and easy to carry and store instead of a rolling suitcase or something bulky and heavy like that. I took a sports bag that I was able to shove under my bed so I could access it easily.

May your pregnancy end in a happy and complication free hospital visit and labor.

Happy Travels!

Kristin

Traveling While Pregnant: Sitting, Standing, Or Lying?

These last few weeks I have been pretty uncomfortable. According to my doctor I am almost 38 weeks pregnant, and my belly is quite monstrous. I have definitely had a hard time getting comfortable, no matter what position I’m in… whether I’m trying to sit and read a book, stand while doing the dishes, or lie down to go to sleep.

What can be done about this problem of mission comfort impossible? Well, each woman is different and find comfort in different positions. However, there are certain tips and tricks you can use that will help with this dilemma.

This is a good example of a sitting position that encourages a good birthing position for the baby.

Sitting, standing, and lying are all things you will be doing on a normal basis while you are pregnant, but also come into play when you are traveling while pregnant. For normal sleeping remember you should avoid sleeping on your back or stomach. You can employ a full body pillow while lying on your side. When you are traveling, you might not want to lug one of those around. I actually lost my full body pillow because I insisted on bringing it while we traveled, and I left it somewhere. But no worries, I have been using a regular pillow between my legs, and a small wedge pillow my friend bought me for under my belly while laying on my side. It is a miracle worker! I also use it while sitting for back support with the non-pointy side of the triangle down. Something small like my wedge pillow is ideal for traveling, because you can slip it into your suitcase or backpack. You also want to consider getting a neck pillow for sitting long periods, or for sleeping while sitting up. Towards the end of pregnancy, heartburn might not be giving you any other options, and you don’t want your head bouncing all over the place while you are trying to fall asleep. If you are one of those doubters that think sleeping sitting up sounds impossible, you should at least give it a try if you cannot find comfort in any other position… I slept that way last night.

Are you going to be staying at someone’s house while you are pregnant? Instead of accepting the air mattress (a bad idea, speaking from personal experience!), opt for the couch. Not only does it provide great back support while you are a sleeping on your side, but you don’t have to worry about it deflating and causing back problems you didn’t have the day before. The couch has seriously been my refuge for the last two weeks! I just lay on my side, smash my wedge pillow behind my back, and voila, sleep overtakes me.

Let’s talk about sitting… you want to make sure when you are sitting for longer periods of time, you take breaks to get up and walk around, and since you are pregnant, odds are that these walking breaks are also doubling as potty breaks. Staying in any one position too long can cause stiffness in your legs and back. This is especially important to remember while on an airplane. It is also my sworn duty as a labor doula to tell you not to spend too much time sitting while reclined. You want your baby in the best birth position possible and that means you want to sit up, with good posture, so your baby’s butt will naturally be facing away from your spine. This will prevent serious back labor pain while you are in labor and delivering your baby. For me sitting back too often is extremely uncomfortable anyway, and it doesn’t help the edema in my feet (edema in pregnancy is swelling due to poor circulation caused by the pressure of your uterus on the blood vessels in your back).

Standing still can be extremely uncomfortable when pregnant because your center of gravity is off, and there is a lot of pressure on your back. If you have to stand for long periods of time, make sure you are moving around as much a possible (walking will help prepare your body for the marathon that is labor), and take sitting breaks. If you find that your feet and calves are swollen after prolonged periods of standing, make sure to put your feet up, and rub the swollen area out (or convince your hubby it is his duty as a future father). If you are traveling and you find yourself on a bus or train, make sure you take up people on their offer to give you their seat. It is much safer for you to sit while on a moving vehicle because your joints are lose and your balance is off (which I talk more in depth about here).

I hope you find these few tips helpful in your last few weeks of pregnancy. For more info on traveling while pregnant, check out other articles in this series.

What position do you find most comfortable for sleeping? What are some ways you deal with the physical discomfort of pregnancy?

Happy Travels,

Kristin

Traveling While Pregnant: I Didn’t Bend There Before

Last night as I was trying to sleep, but not succeeding due to the giant baby in my belly, I had a sudden realization. So far this is the only pregnancy that I have not injured myself (knock on wood!).

So far I haven't added to the sprained ankle count this pregnancy...

Because of the relaxin in your body, your joints become looser in preparation of your baby having to be squeezed through your hips. I am generally thankful for this hormone, but in my last two pregnancies I had quite a few accidents. Not to mention that your center of gravity is off because you have a bulging bump that makes you front heavy. During my pregnancy with Ksena I sprained my ankle twice (both times stepping down off of the sidewalk), and got a serious neck spasm that made it so I couldn’t turn my head in either direction which had to be treated with muscle relaxers. If I thought that was bad, I never thought about the injuries I might get while being pregnant with Kati! I managed to sprain my ankle, drop a large glass container full of brown sugar which ended up cutting me in seven different places, and at 28 weeks, I slipped and fell on my butt trying to get Ksena to the bathroom because she was sick. That final injury ended up causing a bulging disc, something I still deal with today.

I should mention that even when I’m not pregnant, I’m pretty clumsy in general and tend to burn and hurt myself quite often, so you can imagine how this is magnified by pregnancy. But so far this pregnancy has been injury free, thank God!

Here are five tips on how to avoid common pregnancy injuries:

1. Watch where you are walking! It is really easy to turn your ankle with your joints being as bendy as they are. Take extra time to step down off of curbs, watch out for holes in the grass or on the sidewalk. When you are going down stairs, always use the hand rail.

2. Use two hands. When you are picking something heavy or slippery up, always use two hands. The joints in your fingers are also more bendy than normal, and that can result in a poor grip. This is especially important when picking up one of your little ones, if you have a toddler while pregnant. It also applies to kitchen items. I cannot tell you how many dishes I have broken while pregnant. Luckily I only got cut up once.

3. Slow down. One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself is take things a little bit slower, especially once you stop being able to see your feet.

4. Take it easy! Towards the end of your pregnancy this is especially important. Normal chores like scrubbing the bathtub and cleaning behind the toilet can take a toll on your back when your body is trying to accommodate your growing baby. I’m not saying you should sit around the house and do nothing, but just be mindful of what you are doing, and make sure you are not going to pay for it later.

5. Stay in shape. Being in shape will help your body to heal faster if you do sustain an injury and if you are exercising, your muscles will be stronger and you are less likely to have an accident in the first place. Walking is great exercise and is relatively safe, especially if you are walking on a track. Stretching is also important for your body (and is proven to have benefits during labor), just make sure you don’t push yourself too much because you don’t want to pull a muscle by over stretching. Swimming or water aerobics are also amazing ways to exercise that are super easy on your joints, and take the pressure of the baby off of your back and pelvis while you are suspended in water.

I hope these tips keep you off the pregnancy injury path, and that once baby T is born, I will still be able to report an injury free pregnancy.

For the next post in this series we are going to talk about packing your hospital bag! I am getting mine ready right now and I can’t wait to share with you what is inside.

Happy Travels!

Kristin