Precautions and preparation: traveling with an infant to Pakistan!

As I was browsing through my emails, I received a mail from my SIL. I am amazed and certainly touched. You see, we were suppose to go to Pakistan in November. With the baby coming, we have postponed our trip. My SIL was also suppose to get married in November and … … you guessed it, she postponed her wedding until we could be there. Who would do that? Who would just decide (after some arrangements had been made) to postpone the wedding until your brother, his new wife and the baby could come? I don’t think that people in my family would. I am truly in awe that she would postpone her day and want to share the commotion with us and the new baby.
Needless to say, I have to get a visa quickly. I have a passport, but must start applying for my visa. If the birth and things go well, (remember ED is December 14—15), we are thinking about going at the end of February. I wanted to wait until the 3month mark, until about march 15th, But, I don’t want his sister to have to wait that long for the wedding. But, I don’t want to compromise baby’s health and that is more important. So, I do have some questions for you who have traveled to Pakistan with an infant. Of course, I am looking on the CDC website. And, yes, I know that there is a forum in Gorigirl related to this topic, but I lost my password! So here goes:
1. Does the infant have to have a passport and visa?
2. Do I have to wait 3months for the first round of infant vaccinations and what about malaria?
3. Are there certain things that I should take for emergencies? The website mentions “ORS,.” Should I bring some, even if I am nursing? Is pedialite the same thing? What else for my “firstaid kit?”
4. DH’s family often drinks bottled water. The website says that sometimes it is safe and sometimes not. Has anyone had experience with bottled water in Pakistan?
5. Like I said earlier, I will be nursing. If I eat something that causes me to have diareah, is it likely that the baby will also have diareah?
6. What if the baby does have to go to the hospital? Should I get travelers insurance? Has anyone had to take their child to the hospital? What are the differences between a Pakistani hospital and an American one? I know that DH’s uncle is a doctor. But, still, there are differences, I am sure.
7. DH says that car seats are quite uncommon in Pakistan. Now, it would just be easier for me not to take one on the plane and I had planned to hold my baby in a carrier/wrap. Sometimes, less stuff is just better. But, that would mean that I would not have a car seat to put in DH’s father’s car on the drive from Islamabad to Rawal Pindi. I am not even sure that it will fit. But, I have visions of my baby crashing through the windshield. Nourotic, maybe! How did you handle it?
Thanks for any help.
I know that this is months away, but I want to know in advance what is involved. And, if we should wait until the 3month mark, I want to at least know this for sure and get things set. So, if we say that we are traveling March 18th then I want to make a sincere effort to do so. And, I know that I am going to be nervous and worried about the baby, the closer it gets to the travel date; so being prepared is the best course. Then, my “WHAT Ifs “ will be all taken care of. My biggest worry is that the baby will get sick and everyone else will minimize the worry: “children get sick all of the time, not a big deal.” And it is a big deal to me!!!! You know? when Dh came to the USA, (like many of his friends — no matter at what age they came) he had no problem adjusting to food, water, etc. So, he thinks that it will be the same for our baby. But, i think that this is a good reason to go when I am exclusively nursing. Maybe no one will try to feed the baby scrumptious food, which we would unsuccessfully decline and maybe a problem occur afterwords. and, I do admit that I do *want* to taste all of the street food, in all of its delicious glory. i just know that what might be good on the tongue, might not be good in the stomach. And, maybe there are other things that I have not even thought about. Please share your experiences of traveling with an infant. DH does live in RawalPindi (use to be Lahore) so not in a village. But, he his family is not super rich/wealthy either. Actually, I don’t know their money situation – who discusses money, anyway? But, I know; they are not in poverty. They have one American Style bathroom. They have a small brick house with marble floors. His father has a business. They have someone to help with laundry, but no other servants; DH’s mother cooks/cleans/does everything. And, they probably will be spending large amounts on Sil’s wedding. But, I am not sure how much precaution to take. And, I am not trying to offend DH with another conversation. I tread lightly because I understand that loyalty is quite prevalent when talking about family and country. I am not trying to degrade Pakistan or say that his family does not know how to take care of children or that they are unsafe. But, we all know that there are different values, sometimes. Heck, there are different values within my own family. I just feel more able to express my opinion with my own family. Of course, it helps that there are no language/cultural barriers. Actually, DH did say that if we go during the wedding time, there will be too many people wanting to touch and pick up the baby. That is just too many germs. I suggested “hand sanitizer,” (the alcohol free kind of course). He laughed! (point taken) DH is more specific about contact with animals than I am. I am more fervent about car seats than he. I want to be respectful. But, I think that I will be seen as a hypochondriac on some issues, you know? And, maybe on others, I will be seen as “too lax.” Like with the hair cutting thing.
Suggestions?

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One Response to “Precautions and preparation: traveling with an infant to Pakistan!”

  1. TheGoriWife Says:

    I only know a few of the answers. I am pretty sure any child needs their own passport and visa. I think traveling with a baby is easiest because they are still nursing or only on formula, so all you have to find is good clean water at best, and making sure bottles, if needed, are bone-dry before they’re used because even a droplet of local water could cause stomach upset. I think as far as vaccinations or malaria is concerned, you’d have to talk to a pediatrician. Pediatricians do make appointments for consultations with expectant parents too, lots of people show around for a doc even before their child comes, but many doctors are going to be against your travel plans right out of the box too, so you may have to persist in your questions or scan the telephone listings for a desi name or something. Maybe try asking your obstetrician as well. ORS is oral re hydrating solution and it is just pedialyte. Pedialyte is, I think, only approved for use in kids over 1 year old. Before that it’s only nursing or formula.They sell ORS in Pakistan as well but it tastes terrible, Pedialyte tastes delicious! My son would barely drink the Pakistan ORS, so I’ve always taken some pedialyte backup with me, they sell “powder packs” I bought them online to help with the luggage weight issues. Infant Tylenol and Motrin would be important to take with you, and a good thermometer. My son’s almost five so I can’t really remember the essential items of babyhood, but I’,m not very trustworthy of the availability of medicines in Pakistan or their Pakistani versions of them, so I take all that with me, and extra supplies of children’s medicines. We drink Nestle bottled water in Karachi and it’s easy to find, not too expensive, and great quality. We buy it by the caseload, and I check each seal to make sure it hasn’t been re-glued back on. No issues so far.We carry bottles with us when we’re out & about in the city. I think any stomach issues in you are not a problem for the baby unless the dehydration causes you to have milk production issues, but this would be another thing to ask a pediatrician or your own doctor about. I’ve never taken my son to a doctor or hospital there, but I know I would only take him to the best, I think Aga Khan is the best, maybe there’s another really good one too but I can’t remember the name, and they’re not much different from an America hospital and many of the doctors are foreign educated. I’m not sure about travel insurance, but medical care there is no where near as expensive as here. My sister in law has paid for her daughter to be hospitalized for four days and paid out of pocket and it wasn’t very expensive. You could ask your husband’s family member who is a doctor for info on medical expenses there. If you have any insurance benefits you can call them about their coverage abroad as well. I have written a lot about car seats in Pakistan and I have never seen one for sale there or in use. But there is a new store called Zubaida’s Mother Shop I saw billboards for that you could send your in laws to look at. We rode in cars without a car seat the first trip and I really regretted it so we have always taken one since then. I don’t know anyone else who has taken and used a car seat there, though. If you plan to buy only two tickets and fly with your baby as a lap baby (which is an 80% reduction in fare) then you will not be able to take the car seat on the plane anyway though, so it might be checked. You’d have to call the airline to get the specifics though.

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