Sunday, February 25, 2018

Pregnancy at Sea

January 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

pregnancy at seagBoating season is underway, and it seems like everyone wants to enjoy the waves, the sunshine, and the breezes.  However, there is one group that can’t just head out on a power or sail boat with abandon. Pregnant women must first pause to consider whether they should be boating this summer, and if they are game, they need to head to the doctor before leaving the shore.

As my gender prohibits me from having first-hand knowledge, I consult with Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an obstetrician and gynecologist who practices at the University of Illinois and contributes frequently to the Dr. Oz Show and Up To The Minute on CBS.

We start with the core question: Is it safe for a pregnant woman to be on a boat? “Boating and swimming are acceptable in pregnancy,” Dr. Shepherd says. “However, in the third trimester, which is after 28 weeks, it is recommended that women do not participate in water sports.”She adds that swimming is acceptable up until the third trimester, but cautions pregnant women to avoid diving and cease water skiing, jet skiing, and knee boarding in the later part of the second trimester. Pregnant women may snorkel but should not scuba dive during pregnancy, warns Dr. Shepherd, advising that scuba diving is absolutely contraindicated in all trimesters of pregnancy.

Safety always comes first, with the doctor urging women to wear their life jackets at all times (as pregnancy changes a body’s shape again and again, be sure to check that the life jacket fits properly before boarding the boat). It’s also important for pregnant women to wear shoes while on the boat to prevent slipping and falling; to reduce the risk further, the skipper should maintain a slow and steady speed. “Boating that causes jerking and/or pounding movements can cause abdominal trauma and should be avoided,” says Dr. Shepherd. If a mother-to-be wants to get off the boat and explore shallow waters or rocky shores, she should do so cautiously, as rough or rocky surfaces may cut or bruise the feet, or increase the risks of falling.

Consulting the weather report is standard operating procedure for any boat ride. When there’s a pregnant woman aboard, it’s best to also make sure the seas are calm. If the waters turn choppy, the seat with the least bounce (and the most shade) should be where she sits until the boat returns to shore.

Spending a day in the sun is dehydrating; everyone aboard needs lots of water. Moms-in-waiting should pack a bag with water and juice and include nutritious snacks. Don’t forget to add sunscreen and a hat, too.

Dr. Shepherd has seen many pregnant women in her career,and she knows the ups and certainly the downs that accompany accommodations made during pregnancy, such as wondering whether to change routines or curtail previous activities. “If a woman was active before getting pregnant, it is acceptable to maintain the same level of fitness and activity as long as it does not have a high fall rate or possibility of trauma to the abdomen,” Dr. Shepherd says.  Communication is vital:a pregnant woman should talk to her doctor before taking on any new activities (especially if it’s a high–risk pregnancy). Inquire about tips to avoid seasickness (such as acupressure bands), and what remedies are acceptable for queasiness at sea.

If a pregnant woman experiences heavy vaginal bleeding, sudden shortness of breath, dizziness or feeling faint, a severe headache that is not relieved with approved pain medications, chest pain, muscle weakness, calf pain or swelling in the lower leg region, preterm labor signs (including regular contractions),leaking fluid, or any other unease, use the VHF radio to call the U.S. Coast Guard and request medical assistance while the boat heads back to shore. Once ashore, call the doctor or head right to the nearest emergency room.

Dr. Shepherd recently had her own baby this year. However, she was pregnant during the winter, which prevented any boating activities (though she did say she wished she had done more water exercises).  Is there boating in the future for the doctor? “Perhaps in the next pregnancy!”pregnancy at sea

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