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On the bumpy road

Travelling long distance is difficult during the third trimester,with all the extra weight you are carrying along.

When I reached the hospital to see my doctor for the fortnightly check-up last week,it was difficult to stand straight after getting down from the car. After travelling 40-odd kilometres from my East Delhi home to Gurgaon,my back had given up. The long queue at the toll plaza — it took us more than 30 minutes — had given me another scary thought a while ago: What if I am in labour and have to wait for such a long time to get to hospital?

Travelling long distance — anything beyond 30 minutes seems too long,believe me — is difficult during the third trimester,with all the extra weight you are carrying along. When I aired my concerns to the doctor,she tried to allay my fears,saying I need not worry on that front as she had patients coming from as far as Chandigarh. “You won’t deliver at the toll plaza,” she assured me.

According to experts,travelling by road is more or less safe throughout pregnancy,but it is advisable to avoid long distances (really long ones) in the third trimester,especially if you have had complications earlier. Those who can afford to,or can’t avoid travelling,however,need to be cautious about certain things while undertaking a journey.

The size of my feet had doubled by the time I returned home that day from the hospital. I plan to carry a foot rest along on my next visit. A cushion for the back is a must. I have been using one and can’t imagine how worse my back would have been had I not.

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I never forget to carry enough water and some snacks for the road. Dehydration is something I cannot afford at any cost,as a pregnant body needs more fluid in the third trimester. If driving down to a far-off place,ensure you don’t run out of food and water. Replenish your stock on the way if you do,avoiding potentially contaminated stuff. I prefer biscuits,cheese,fruits and nuts. Chocolates are a good option too. In fact,I read somewhere that chocolates help prevent pre-term labour. But have it only if you are not diabetic,or have not developed gestational diabetes.

And in case the journey is going to take more than two hours,do not hesitate to stop on the way to use washrooms.

Wearing seatbelt is a must,to protect yourself and the baby from any injury. But it should be properly fastened. The lap belt should be placed under the belly — wearing it above or across the belly can pose danger in the event of sudden application of brakes or a jerk for any other reason,say studies. Mind your speed all the time,and especially if the road is bumpy. Head to a doctor straightaway in case your car meets with even a minor accident — even if you are alright and feeling absolutely fine.

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Talk to your doctor about your travel plans. In case you are out of town,or at a place far off from your doctor’s clinic,you need to know the nearest good option where you should go if you require immediate medical attention.

I have been lucky that I have never had to travel alone during pregnancy till now,for my husband has always been there. Travelling alone should be avoided at any cost during the third trimester. If there is no option,make sure your mobile phone is switched on and fully charged,and has adequate balance if it’s a pre-paid number.

Travelling by railway is considered best,and can be safely undertaken till the eighth month. Trains can give you a lot of space to move around and help avoid swelling of ankles and feet. But avoid rush-hour trains. If travelling long distance,choose a lower birth,reach the station with plenty of time in hand and be careful while getting on and alighting,especially if the boarding and destination stations are not the first or last ones. And be careful while using the washrooms. Passengers are not supposed to use the toilet when the train is standing at a station. Hence,maintain your balance while using it in a running train.

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Air travel should be avoided in the advanced stage of pregnancy. Most airlines don’t allow pregnant women on board in any case after 28 weeks. In fact,I had to sign a detailed declaration form at the Chennai airport before flying back to Delhi during my fifth month of pregnancy.

Last but not the least,your travel plan should be flexible. Take the final decision only after weighing all pros and cons,and depending on your condition on the day of travel. Take note of the slightest discomforts and cancel your plan if need be. I am sure you won’t like to have the delivery,for which you waited for so long,at a new and unknown place. Placing yourself in the hands of a stranger,and not your trusted doctor,is not a comfortable thought either,is it?

I have a lunch invitation next week,and the venue is far off — beyond Gurgaon. I do want to go,but am still in two minds. Though my doctor has assured that I “won’t deliver at the toll plaza”,I will take a final decision keeping in mind my condition on that day.

First published on: 18-07-2011 at 16:44 IST
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