When I was 7 months pregnant, I was traveling to Antalya, Turkey which is a 10 hours flight to Istanbul, following an hour flight connecting flight to Antalya. Meeting my family in Antalya, we were going to travel by car for several hours over 2 weeks period. Even though my doctor was not worried about my travel, my father’s cardiologist strongly advised against the amount of traveling I was getting ready to do. His concern was I was more likely to develop blood cloths in my calves due to increased blood volume, swelling in my legs and upcoming inactivity.
Since I had made all the arrangements previously and my doctor cleared me for traveling, I did not cancel my travel plans. At the same time, I was not going to ignore a cardiologists concerns so I started thinking how to tackle possible problems and better prepare for my travels.
Calf muscles play a vital role in returning blood back to the heart. When you are sitting a long time, since your knees are bent, your calves will not be able to pump the blood back towards your heart efficiently to provide full return. That’s why everyone experiences some amount of swelling during long travels. When you are pregnant, your blood volume also increases so more blood volume also means more residual blood in your calves. That’s why pregnant women are at a greater risk for developing blood clots after prolonged traveling .
There are 5 ways that you can tackle these problems and minimize any risk to your baby and your body.
1- Drink adequate water: the blood has two parts two parts: plasma and particles. Drinking more water is always important since a more viscous blood will flow better and will not clot as easily.
2- Limit salt intake to prevent swelling: salt also attracts water at all cell levels. Once you increase your salt intake, your body will also retain more water to maintain osmosis. You will experience more swelling in your legs and hands. Limiting your salt intake will also decrease your chance to experience increased swelling.
3- Move as much as you can: the best way to reverse adverse effects of sitting is standing and walking. If you are traveling by air, you can stand up or walk up and down in the aisle but if you are traveling by car, then you are more restricted. What you can do is exercising in your seat. You can curl your toes, pump your ankles or draw alphabet with your feet, and march in place.
4- Omega 3 fats such as fish oil has many great benefits and one of them is they act as blood thinners. Taking fish oil regularly will also be helpful.
5- Compression stockings: you can find compression stocking almost anywhere. Most stockings offer mild compression which is adequate in decreasing swelling in your legs.
Ensure you are making these changes couple days before and during your travels.
I would like to hear about your perspective. What do you think? Please comment and let me know!
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