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in the Park
Tips and ideas for the traveling family
|Adrienne Krock, editor|
and the Disney Parks
There are a variety of paths to parenthood. For many of us, this includes 40 weeks of the physical challenge we call "pregnancy." With this incredible blessing comes a myriad of cautions and restrictions, including guidelines set by theme parks on what expectant mothers can participate in. I've followed these guidelines in the past, but it's something I need to follow once again throughout my own pregnancy. That's right; I am due in May of next year!
Today, let's look at some common misconceptions about visiting theme parks while you're expecting.
Misconception #1: "Pregnant women don't really need to be careful" (aka "They just say that to protect themselves legally" -- or -- "I paid $40 to get in here today and I'm going to get my money's worth!")
I once heard a man boast that his then- pregnant wife ignored expectant- mother warnings on Disneyland rides, especially during her first trimester. This made me cringe! As a woman who has experienced complications in her pregnancy (as well as an uneventful pregnancy with my son, Matthew,) who has read and studied reproductive issues extensively, and who has two medical doctors in her immediate family, I have some knowledge on this topic.
There are several reasons why rides carry warnings for expectant mothers. The most obvious are high-speed rides that often jostle the body and even expose you to strong g-forces.
Attractions sometimes break down with riders on them. In the case of roller coasters such as Space Mountain, these emergency stops ("e-stops") can be very abrupt and forceful.
On Autopia, young guests control the speed of their ride vehicles. In some cases, these inexperienced "drivers" may rear end their fellow guests which can also cause a strong jolt.
G-forces, e-stops, and vehicle jolts can affect pregnancies during any trimester.
Misconception #2: "I don't have to be careful; I'm only in my first trimester!"
Just because you are in your first trimester, does not mean you can ignore all the expectant-mother warnings in the park.
Most miscarriages occur in the first trimester, when minor traumas can jeopardize successful implantation and pregnancy development. This means you need to be extra careful during your first trimester!
Later in pregnancy, fast and / or rough rides can induce "pre-term labor," Although a pre-term labor does not automatically mean you will give birth to your baby prematurely, this could be a serious concern depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, as it can result in various complications.
Another complication can occur if the placenta separates from your uterine wall. This usually leads to the death of the unborn child. An undiagnosed case of "placenta previa," (see sidebar) can cause a hemorrhage as the result of a separated placenta, which risks the life of both the baby as well as the mother. This can happen quickly with little time to get to a hospital.
For me, there is another simple reason to avoid high-risk rides: The actual percentage of attractions with recommended restrictions is small. Of over 50 attractions at Disneyland (not counting shows and other forms of entertainment), there are only seven that discourage pregnant women from riding. (see sidebar)
Misconception #3: "I can't go to Disneyland / Walt Disney World because I'm pregnant!"
There is plenty to do at a Disney park, even if you're pregnant! As I just wrote, there are only seven restricted rides at Disneyland. Classic rides such as Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, It's a Small World are all restriction free. Don't forget animatronic shows such as Country Bear Jamboree and Tiki Room. This is an excellent time to enjoy live shows, too.
Pregnancy is a great time to relax in the parks. Disney parks are known for parades and spectacular shows like Fantasmic! Let's not forget, we pregnant women can always shop!
Tips for pregnant moms
Drink lots of water
This is especially important for your health, and so you can feel comfortable. It actually helps reduce swelling, and even dry, itchy skin. When you've been walking around parks all day you need to replenish liquids, especially when it is warm outside.
Visit the restrooms often
The idea for Happiest Potties on Earth was conceived during my first pregnancy. Several months later when I was pregnant with Matthew, I had many opportunities to refine the information for the site. If you're going to Disneyland, stop by the site so you know where the clean restrooms are, especially if you're in the first trimester, and especially if you have morning sickness (or noon or nighttime sickness....)
Try a wheelchair!
Matthew was born in mid-September so when I visited Disneyland in those final eight weeks, it was very hot outside and I was very big. My friend Tony Phoenix (author of Theme Park Access Guide) generously lent me his spare wheelchair. With my husband and / or our friends available to help push me, I was able to conserve my energy on hot days and better enjoy my trips to Disneyland. If you don't have a friend with a wheelchair to lend you, you can rent one for the day.
It will be another six or seven months before I can ride on the mountain rides at Disneyland or the upcoming roller coasters at the new California Adventure park [DCA] myself. I know how blessed I am and how many women would be more than willing to trade places with me. Meanwhile, I'll be enjoying many rides, shows, and treats at Disneyland. Maybe I'll see you there!
Calling all expectant mothers!
What's your favorite relaxing thing to do at Disneyland or Walt Disney World? Please email them to me and I'll compile a list to share here in an upcoming column!
Placenta Previa is a condition in which the placenta covers or partially covers the cervix. Women diagnosed with placenta previa are usually prescribed strict bed rest and should not be at theme parks in the first place.
Attractions that expectant mothers are advised not to ride...
Rides at Disneyland
Rides at Walt Disney World
Adrienne gathered experience taking kids to amusement parks when she worked as a day camp counselor and director. She was an elementary school teacher before she started her favorite job, being Matthew's Mom.
Adrienne and Matthew visit Disneyland several times a month, usually with Daddy, too.
Besides Matthew, Adrienne and her husband Kevin created and maintain The Happiest Potties on Earth website.
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