Travel during pregnancy can be fatiguing and frustrating, but if your pregnancy is normal, you should be able to travel during the first and second trimesters without too much trouble. Consult your physician if you plan to travel during your third trimester.
Take frequent breaks to stretch your legs during trips. Don't overdo—rest when possible. Avoid places where good medical care is not available or where changes in climate, food or altitude could cause you problems.
Driving is permitted, but always wear your seat belt!
Travel in the First and Second Trimesters
Ask your doctor before you take a trip. Most will tell you it's OK to travel during pregnancy, but each situation is different. Some general considerations about traveling during pregnancy include the following.
|Don't plan a trip during your last month of pregnancy.|
|If you're having problems, such as bleeding or cramping, don't travel.|
|If you are uncomfortable or have problems with swelling, traveling, sitting in a car or doing a lot of walking may make things worse (and it probably won't be much fun either).|
|If your pregnancy is considered high risk, a trip during pregnancy is just not a good idea.|
|Remember you are pregnant when you plan a trip. Be sensible in your planning, and take it easy.|
Travel in the Third Trimester
In the third trimester, labor could begin at any time, your water could break or other problems could occur. Your doctor knows what has happened during your pregnancy and has a record of tests done—this knowledge is important. If you check into a hospital in a strange place, they don't know you and you don't know them. Some doctors won't accept you as a patient in this situation, and it can be awkward. It doesn't make sense to take a chance.
No one can predict when your labor will begin. No one can guarantee you can go on a trip and not go into labor or have other problems. You can't guarantee it even if you're at home! Plan ahead, and discuss it with your doctor before you make plans or buy airplane tickets.
The same goes for your partner's travel plans. If you are within a month of your due date, your doctor can check you, but this only tells you where you are at that very moment. This is not a good time for either of you to travel.
Driving and Seat-Belt Use in Pregnancy
There is no reason not to drive while you're pregnant if your pregnancy is normal and you feel OK. Be sure to wear a seat belt throughout your pregnancy as well as at all other times.
Many women are confused about wearing seat belts and shoulder harnesses during pregnancy. They wonder if wearing the restraints over their abdomen could cause a problem. It is important to continue wearing your safety belt whenever you go out in a car. These safety restraints are necessary during pregnancy, just as they are necessary when you're not pregnant. Seat-belt use is so important that the National Highway Safety Administration has designed a "pregnant" crash-test dummy. The dummy is used in simulated car crashes to record how an accident could affect a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
There is no evidence use of safety restraints increases the chance of fetal or uterine injury. You have a better chance of survival in an accident wearing a seat belt than not wearing one.
Wear Seat Belts Properly
There is definitely a correct way to wear a seat belt. Place the lap-belt part of the restraint under your abdomen and across your upper thighs so it's snug and comfortable. Adjust your sitting position so the belt crosses your shoulder without cutting into your neck. Position the shoulder harness between your breasts; don't slip this belt off your shoulder.
Seat-belt use is extremely important during pregnancy. Always buckle up!
|Cytomegalovirus||Hospitals, day-care centers||Congenital malformation|
|Cytotoxic drugs||Hospital or pharmacy preparation of chemotherapeutic drugs||Miscarriage|
|Ethylene oxide||Surgical-instrument sterilization||Miscarriage|
|Ionizing radiation||X-rays and radiation treatments, radioactive implants, nuclear power plants||In very high doses. congenital malformation; lower doses may increase risk of childhood cancer|
|Lead||House, automotive and art paints made before 1980; battery manufacturing plants and radiator repair shops; ceramics and glass manufacturers; toll booths on heavily traveled roads||Preterm birth, delayed cognitive development|
|Organic solvents||Paint thinners, lacquers, adhesives; electronics and printing plants||Congenital malformation|
|PCBs||Electronic capacitors and transformers; hazardous waste industry||Delayed cognitive development|
|Rubella virus||Day-care centers, schools||Congenital malformation|
|Toxoplasmosis||Veterinary clinics, animal shelters, meat-packing operations||Congenital malformation|
Your Legal Rights
Women who work full time who need to take time off while they are pregnant may be made to feel their jobs are vulnerable. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 prohibits job discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or related disability. It guarantees equal treatment of all disabilities, including pregnancy, birth or related medical conditions, by companies that employ 15 or more people. If you have problems, ask your healthcare provider for help.
Several elements of the law may apply to you.
|You must be granted the same health, disability and sick-leave benefits as any other employee for any other medical condition.|
|You must be given modified tasks, alternate assignments, disability leave or leave without pay (depending on your company's policy).|
|You are allowed to work as long as you can perform your job.|
|You are guaranteed job security on leave.|
|You continue to accrue seniority and vacation, and to remain eligible for pay increases and benefits.|
Another law, the Family and Medical Leave Act, was passed in 1993 and also affects pregnant women. It allows you or your husband to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any 12-month period for the birth of your baby. Leave may be taken intermittently or all at the same time. You must be restored to an equivalent position with equal benefits when you return. However, the act applies only to companies that employ 50 or more people within a 75-mile radius of the job site. States may allow an employer to deny job restoration to those in the top 10% compensation bracket. Check with your state's labor office.
State employment laws differ, so check with your state's labor office. You may also receive a summary of state laws on family leave from:
The Women's Bureau Publications U. S. Department of Labor Box EX 200 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20210
Laws and benefits regarding pregnancy differ greatly in Canada. Currently, Canadians who qualify may receive employment insurance benefits while pregnant. You must have worked at least 700 hours for pay in the last 52 weeks. Benefits are of two types: maternal and parental. Maternity benefits may only be paid to the natural mother of a child. Parental benefits may be paid to both natural and adoptive parents. Maternity benefits may be taken for up to 15 weeks. Parental benefits may be taken for up to 10 weeks. In either case, the benefits may be taken before and after the baby's birth. Parental benefits may be claimed by one parent or split between the two.
To apply, contact your nearest Human Resource Centre of Canada (HRCC). You will need two pieces of information:
|Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)|
|Your Record of Employment (ROE). Your employer must give you this form. It states how long you worked and how much you earned with that employer. If you have worked for more than one employer in the last 52 weeks, you may have more than one ROE.|
Workplace discrimination because of pregnancy.
It isn't common, but it happens. If you feel discriminated against in the workplace because of your pregnancy, you do have recourse. One excellent booklet I know about is Facts about Pregnancy Discrimination. It is available from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Call (202) 663-4900 for a free copy. In Canada, contact your nearest Human Resource Centre of Canada for help.