Sunday, February 26, 2012

Pregnant and Going to Disney - Part II

To read part I of this blog, click here.

We've just returned from my second trip of this pregnancy and I have lived to tell the tale! We spent 4 nights and 5 days in "The World" and had a magical time. We really didn't have to make too many adjustments due to the pregnancy, and honestly it went even better than I thought it would. I was, by far, not the only pregnant lady at Disney, and we noticed many, many mommies with bellies!

Before Your Trip
Do make sure you have your doctor or midwife's okay to take a vacation during your pregnancy. For most normal, healthy women, it should be perfectly fine, airplane travel included, during the first two trimesters, and early part of the third. If however, you are considered high risk for preterm delivery or dangerous complications, your provider may not like the idea of traveling far from their care. You also don't want to travel too late in your pregnancy when the possibility of delivery is higher. Keep in mind that just because your chart is labeled "high risk" does not mean you cannot travel, it just depends on why, and ultimately you and your provider need to make that decision together. Technically I am considered "high risk" because, ahem..., I'm shall we say a "more experienced" mom. Okay, I'm old, lets just say it, but that was not a reason my midwife felt I needed to forego a vacation.

Make sure that before your vacation, once you have your provider's okay, you bring with you on your trip a current copy of your prenatal records and your medical insurance card. Just in case something happens, your care will be much better (and faster) if the hospital in Florida has your medical records and all your billing information. I hope to give you some good tips to keep you OUT of the hospital, but its good to always have this information with you just in case.

Safe and Smart Travel
If you are driving to the world, be sure to wear your seatbelt at all times. Make sure to wear it low and over your hips, not up over your abdomen. Drink plenty of water along the way. Take frequent stops to get out of the car, use the bathroom, stretch and walk around. While seated you can do some stretching with your feet to encourage return blood flow. Point and flex your toes, and do ankle circles.

If traveling by air, try to book a non-stop flight to minimize travel time. If you are on a long flight, try to get up and walk up and down the cabin a few times to stretch and discourage the possibility of developing blood clots in your legs. If you can score an aisle seat this will make it easier to get up frequently and use the bathroom as well. You can do the same ankle and foot stretches as those traveling by car. It is not uncommon for airplane travel to cause water retention, so note that your legs and ankles may have increased swelling during the flight. Try to put your feet up once you arrive at your destination.

Pack Prepared
Be sure to pack any necessary medications, prescriptions, vitamins, and over the counter medications in your carry on bags. You may want to bring some doctor approved over the counter "just in case" medications as well such as tylenol and tums. Also, remember that you can bring small snacks into the parks, so you may want to bring some healthy snacks to keep your energy up while touring. Some good suggestions would be dried fruit, baked crackers or nuts.

This was also something I mentioned in my first post on traveling while pregnant. Dehydration is a pregnant woman's enemy. It can make you feel awful, cause unnecessary swelling, give you a headache, and even contractions. If you find that you are having swelling, be sure to continue drinking lots of water. Sometimes moms believe if they are swollen, they should drink less, when the opposite is actually true. Try to limit your salty food intake, and keep drinking.

You can bring bottles of water with you into the parks, use a refillable water bottle, purchase bottles of water in the park, or even order FREE glasses of water at counter service locations. If you go to any counter service (AKA quick service) location and ask for a glass of ice water, you can get one free of charge. Yes, it is tap water, but its free, and not much is at DIsney. If you don't like the taste of Orlando tap water, and a lot of peope don't, you can bring those little crystal light/flavored drink packets to add to your water. Avoid caffene as it will only make you more dehydrated. A diet coke, while my beverage of choice, tastes great, it does not actually help you stay hydrated, in fact, it makes you more DEhydrated. As we have a DVC Villa, we had Garden Grocer deliver a case of bottled water to our resort, and so I always brought two bottles of water with me into the parks.

Frequent Bathroom Breaks
If you are doing a good job staying hydrated, you will probably get a world tour of Disney World restrooms. It is also important to empty your bladder frequently, so make the time. You may want to prepare by using the bathroom before getting on any long lines or attractions that may take you away from a bathroom for a while, such as the Liberty Belle Riverboat or American Adventure attraction in Epcot.

Slow Down and Take it Easy
Even if you are an experienced Disney Parks commando like myself, pregnancy is going to require you to slow down a bit. Try to do half days, or take a mid-day break to put your feet up or take a nap. When moving through the parks, you may have to slow your pace a bit. Send someone else to go for fastpasses, while you slowly make your way to another attraction.

Be especially mindful that as your belly is getting bigger, your center of gravity is shifting, making falls more likely. Watch your footing around the pool and unfamiliar bathrooms. Be sure to use handrails and take your time when getting on and off attractions. You may have ridden Peter Pan's Flight 30 times, but getting into that boat is going to be a bit more tricky this time.

Rides and Attractions
I was too big to actually get on a horse, so I just stood by.
As mentioned in my first post on traveling while pregnant, you will need to scale back some of the usual attractions. You should definitely avoid anything with a G-force, such as Everest, or anything with the would "Mountain" in it. Depending on your comfort level, you may want to avoid other attractions as well. I used my rule of thumb which is if there is no reason to not bring on an infant, there was no reason I could not enjoy the ride. That said, I could see that some mommies might be wary about riding attractions such as Malestrom, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Kilamajaro Safari. Talk to your provider before your trip about any concerns, and when in doubt, sit it out.

There are lots of wonderful things you can do while your family rides attractions you cannot. This may be some of the last time you have to wander by yourself for a long time, so enjoy it! While my older two and hubby took several rides on Space Mountain, I took my younger son on the Peoplemover, and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. The night they all went on, and subsequently got stuck on Splash Mountain, I had a leisurely ride on the Liberty Belle Riverboat around the Rivers of America, and then did some shopping throughout Frontierland and Fantasyland. Don't feel like you need to sit on the bench outside the ride. With the ease of cell phones and texting, make plans to meet up after and enjoy the time to explore Walt Disney World on your own.

Aches and Pains
While some ladies sail through pregnancy feeling great, most of us do suffer from what I like to tell patients is a case of APP, "Aches and Pains of Pregnancy". This can range from aching feet, back, hips, pelvic joint pain, carpel tunnel, headaches, and difficulty sleeping due to waking up in pain.

With your doctor's okay, its generally considered safe to take Tylenol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy for aches and pains, headache and the like. I can tell you from personal experience however, that for moderate hip and pelvic joint pain in pregnancy, it tends to not help too terribly much, but at least its something to try.

Bring several pairs of safe, comfortable shoes. To minimize aching feet, you should bring at least 2 different pairs of comfortable walking shoes. Since you may experience swelling of your feet in Florida, make sure they have a little room to grow. Although I did alternate between 3 different pairs, I did find that my feet hurt more than a normal Disney vacation. You also want to make sure your shoes will offer stability and won't increase the risk of slipping or falling.

If you find you have been having pelvic and hip pain before your trip, you may find that better or worse during. I have found for long shifts at work, that a maternity support belt works wonders. It helps to hold your belly up, and your hip bones in and together. Since I have been wearing mine regularly for work, I brought it with me on vacation. Surprisingly, although I did still have some discomfort, especially after sitting down for a while, I found that overall, all of the exercise actually seemed to help the pain! I think my joints feel better than before the trip, and I'm going to try to make a good effort to walk on the treadmill several times a week to keep it up. Good proof that exercise in pregnancy really can be helpful to aches and pains.

One thing I wish I had thought better about ahead of time, was my bedtime pillow situation. I recommend either bringing along an extra small pillow for a belly wedge, or requesting extra pillows from the front desk of your resort. I unfortunately did not think of this until the kids were in bed and I was laying down to sleep the first night of the trip. At that point I didn't want to go downstairs or call for my pillows and risk waking the kids. Thankfully my loving hubby gave me one of his. At this point I really sleep best with two pillows under my head, and one on each side to support my tummy and back when sleeping. That's a lot of pillows. I ended up not getting any extra from the desk however, because we bought one of the ever popular Pillow Pets, a Simba model, for our youngest. I then took his pillow! I slept so much better that night with my full supply of pillows.

Me and the little guy on the PeopleMover, while the big boys rode Space Mountain.
So, while your friends may think you crazy for venturing to Walt Disney World during your pregnancy, it is entirely possible to have a safe and fun trip if you are willing to plan ahead and make a few modifications. So go ahead and book that trip before baby comes, or don't stress about canceling a pre-scheduled trip when you find out you are expecting. Be safe and have a magical vacation!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Making it Through TSA Airport Security With Your Children and Your Sanity!

As I've been packing (okay, trying to  pack) for our Disney mid-winter getaway for the past day or two, I find myself trying to mentally prepare for my least favorite part of any Disney trip.  No, it's not the crowds, the heat, or the price of a Diet Coke, but making my way, with three kids and a hubby through the Transportation Security Administration checkpoint at Midway and Orlando International Airports.  I am in no way trying to complain about the job TSA does. I firmly believe that their purpose is an important one, and that the rules and regulations are there to at least try to keep us a little bit safer in a post 9/11 world.  But no matter what, getting the entire family though, and put back together at the other side gives me palpatations.  There are some things you can do however, to make it smoother and a little bit less horrific.

Sign for the Family Friendly Line
 Some larger airports have special lines specifically for families.  If this is available, I recommend it for several reasons, even if you feel the other lines are shorter.  First of all, the TSA workers in the family line are ready for families. They will be more accomodating and helpful when you are there with strollers, car seats, and crying 3 year olds who don't want to go through the checkpoint.  Also, as you are having trouble getting little junior though the checkpoint, another family behind you who is in the same situation is likely to be more patient than a business frequent flyer who wants to know why you didn't get in the family line.

When you first approach security, you will have to present your boarding passes and photo ID to a TSA agent.  Have these items out and ready to hand over.  Children under the age of 18 are not required to show ID.  After the TSA agent has handed these items back to you, step a few feet forward to make room for the family behind you, and safely place your ID's and boarding passes back in your carry on.

Lets talk about shoes.  Thankfully, children under 12 no longer have to remove their shoes through security. I honestly think this was probably one of the most stressfull parts for me.  Getting the shoes off is bad enough, but getting them back on was a nightmare.  But older kids and adults must still remove their shoes.  You may want to consider wearing something that is quick and easy to get off and on.  A pair of slip on clogs will be much easier than lacing up those high fashion gladiator sandles.  The faster your shoes are back on, the faster you will be able to start putting your baggage and kids back together.
Also consider your attire when traveling. You may want to avoid large belt buckles, jewlery, or hair accessories that might trigger the metal detector.

Put your extra stuff in the bins boys!
 When you are still at home packing for your trip, remember the 3-1-1 rule for liquids.  All liquids are limited to 3oz, placed in a 1 quart size clear plastic bag.  Each passenger may have 1 of these quart size bags.  Pack this at the top of your carry on.  When you get to the security checkpoint, take these bags out and place them into one of the grey bins.

 I think its best to carry on as few liquids as you can, so we try to place as much as is practical into our checked bags.  If you will be utilizing Disney's Magical Express service, remember that you may not receive your checked bags for up to 4 hours after you arrive at your resort, so keep that in mind when deciding what to put in your 3-1-1 bag. I usually have one or two 3oz containers of sunscreen in case we either go swimming or to the parks before we get our luggage. I also pack any medications we may need in the 3-1-1 bag in case the airline loses our luggage.  If you or your child has a prescription liquid medication that is larger than the 3oz rule, do not place it in your 3-1-1 bag, but declare it at the checkpoint. This has happened to us when one of our little mouseketeers got an ear infection just prior to a trip.  If you are a super-planner like me who brings children's benadryl and tylenol in case of a vacation disaster, you should know that both of these childrens medications are now available in meltaway tabs.  This solves the liquid problem!

If you are traveling with a small child, you are allowed to bring small but reasonable quantities of formula, breastmilk, baby food and juice through security.  This must be declared to security, and they may require you to open the item for furthur inspection.

Gray TSA Bin
 Once you are close enough to the actual checkpoint, there will be long tables, and gray plastic bins.  Essentially, just plan on putting everything in a plastic bin. Everything.  Lots of bins.  If your child has a personal bag, stuffed animal, jacket etc... it MUST go in a bin through the scanner. 

When you get to the line to go through the scanners, its a good idea to start getting prepared. Get the kids out of the stroller, and fold the stroller. Babies must be removed from car seats and carriers/slings.  The baby will go with you though the metal detector, but yes, even your baby bjorn must go into a gray bin and though the scanner.  Remove your jackets or sweatshirts.  They will ask you to remove even a zip up sweatshirt.  It is much easier to remove it ahead of time rather than once it is your turn though the metal detector.  If you can put them inside another bag, that would be ideal. Remove anything large and metal that may trigger the metal detector, such as keys or change in your pockets, or large metal jewlery. Get out your 3-1-1 bag of liquid items, or any larger liquids you are bringing for the children.  Laptops not in a special "checkpoint friendly" approved case must be removed from your bag. Large electronics like full size DVD players, full size game consoles and the like must also be removed from your bags.  Small electronics like cell phones, iPads, book readers, and handheld game consoles can remain inside your other bags.  It is possible that it may trigger your bag to be searched further, but it is not required to be removed.  The less your carry on is cluttered with things, the easier it is for the scanner to make an assesment of what is in there, and the less likely that you will be subjected to an additional search.

Once all of your items are declared, and loaded up on the belt to go through the scanner, its your turn to proceed through the metal detector.  There will be a TSA agent on the other side of the scanner, and they will let you know when to proceed.  I have noticed that the order which the agent prefers the family to come through varies.  Some agents will call older children through first, so you can stay with the younger child.  Other agents will call you though first, and then each child one at a time.  Babies and small children will obviously be carried through by you.  We always have one of the parents go through as the very last family member, just in case someone needs a little encouragement to walk through the metal detector. 

Once on the other side, it always seems like a big rush to put everything back together. I like to get my shoes on as soon as I can. Then I start putting the kids back together. Get their jackets back on, backpacks back on, stroller open and someone (anyone at that point) into the stroller, so I can find my own belongings.  Put your 3-1-1 bags back into your carryon, gather any loose items you may have removed such as jewlery or electronics, and off you go! WHEW! MADE IT!

You are now in the so called "sterile area" and have officially survived TSA.  It may be a good time to get any additional juice or snacks for your flight.  If you haven't flown in a while, you may want to know that while major legacy airlines still give a comlimentary beverage, most no longer serve that nice little complimentary bag of peanuts or pretzels.  Southwest Airlines is the only carrier we have flown recently that does give out snacks, and I have heard Delta also offers one. Now that you have gotten through security though, anything you purchase in the "sterile area" can be brought on the plane. 

You can now sit back, relax and enjoy your vacation, knowing you have to do it all again in a few days!

Do you have any special tips or tricks for traveling with little ones?  Leave a comment!

For more official information on traveling through TSA you can visit their webpage on traveling with children here.