Traveling during pregnancy is not usually a problem if your pregnancy has been uncomplicated and you are not too close to your due date. However, it is a good idea to check with your doctor and develop a plan for seeking medical attention if you should need it. Whether you are planning a babymoon or business trip, there are also several things you should keep in mind to ensure that you are safe and comfortable during your travels.
EditPlanning Your Trip
- Plan your trip between weeks 14 and 28 if possible. The second trimester of your pregnancy is the safest and the most comfortable time to travel because the high risk period for miscarriage has passed and you should no longer be experiencing morning sickness. If possible, plan your trip so that it will fall within this timeframe.
- Do not travel after you are 36 weeks pregnant, or after 32 weeks pregnant if you have a complicated pregnancy (such as if you are carrying multiples or at risk of premature birth).
- Avoid countries with zika outbreaks. Zika is a disease carried by mosquitoes that can cause severe birth defects in your baby, so it is important to avoid areas where exposure is likely. Do not book travel to any regions where there has been a recent zika outbreak.
- Check the list of countries affected by zika before you book your trip. You can find the list of countries where zika outbreaks are ongoing by visiting the CDC’s website: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information
- If you must travel to a country where zika is a concern, do everything you can to prevent infection. Zika is transmitted through mosquito bites and unprotected sex, so protect yourself from mosquitoes and practice safe sex.
- Choose refundable options for your flight and hotel. Although you may not anticipate having to cancel your trip, booking travel options that are refundable may save you a lot of money and hassle if you do have to cancel. Look for airfares and other travel tickets that are refundable, even if you have to pay a little more. Book hotel rooms and other accommodations that you can cancel.
- Read the fine print on any travel plans you make so you know how long you have to cancel and what exactly you will need to do.
- Check with the airline before booking. Each airline has a different policy regarding pregnant passengers. Call or check the website of the airline you plan on using before you book your travel to ensure that you will be in compliance with their rules.
- For example, if you are past your eighth month of pregnancy, some airlines require you to bring multiple copies of a certificate from your obstetrician giving you permission to travel.
EditProtecting Your Health While Traveling
- Check with your doctor before planning your trip. In most cases, traveling during a healthy pregnancy is safe. However, checking with your doctor before you travel will give them an opportunity to advise you of any special precautions you need to take during your trip. Talking to your doctor ahead of time will also ensure that you can schedule a checkup for before you take your trip. If any serious complications arise, then your doctor may recommend postponing or canceling your travel plans for the safety of you and your baby. Your doctor may recommend against travel if you have or recently had a diagnosis of:
- Heart disease
- Gestational diabetes
- Bone fracture
- Severe anemia
- Respiratory disease
- Get all of your vaccinations updated. Getting necessary vaccinations before your trip may help to protect you from becoming seriously ill while you are traveling. Talk to your doctor about what vaccinations are recommended for traveling to your intended destination. Your doctor can advise you on what vaccinations are safe to get at this stage in your pregnancy.
- For example, if you are near your third trimester, your doctor may recommend getting Tdap (protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) and flu vaccines if you are between weeks 27 and 36 of your pregnancy.
- Bring any medications you will need. You will need to continue to take your prenatal vitamins plus any prescribed medications while you are traveling, so make sure to bring enough to last for your entire trip. You may also want to bring some additional medications to help make your trip easier or just in case you need them, such as some acetaminophen for pain or a prescription medication for motion sickness.
- Ask your doctor to refill your prescriptions early to ensure that you will have enough for the trip.
- Wash your hands frequently. Frequent hand washing may help to protect you against germs and bacteria that could make you ill during your trip. Wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom, before eating, and any time your hands are soiled.
- Ensure that water is safe to drink. Unclean water poses a serious risk to you and your unborn baby, so always ensure that your drinking water is clean. If you are traveling somewhere where drinking the tap water is not recommended, then you will need to purchase bottled water or boil your drinking water.
- Avoid brushing your teeth with tap water or letting water into your mouth while showering in countries where the tap water is deemed unsafe.
- Check the seal on all bottled water you purchase to make sure that the plastic seal is intact. Some vendors may try to sell you tap water in used water bottles.
- Get up and walk around often to prevent deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), also known as blood clots, is a serious concern for pregnant women. To help reduce your risk of blood clots, take frequent walking and stretching breaks during your travels.
- If you are flying, book a seat that is next to the aisle so that you can easily get up and walk around. Try to get up once per hour and walk up and down the aisle. You can also stretch your legs and rotate your ankles while sitting in an aisle seat.
- If you are driving, take breaks every 1 to 2 hours to stretch your legs and walk around.
- Staying hydrated is also an important part of preventing DVT, so drink plenty of fluids while you are traveling.
- Ask your doctor about wearing compression stockings while you travel. Compression stockings can help to reduce your chance of blood clots, which are a concern for pregnant women. Your risk of developing a blood clot also increases during travel. However, make sure to check with your doctor first, because compression stockings may not be necessary.
- You can buy compression stockings without a prescription, but your insurance may pay for them if your doctor prescribes them.
- As an added benefit, compression stockings may help to increase your comfort while traveling by improving the blood flow in your legs and reducing swelling.
EditKeeping Yourself Safe and Comfortable
- Wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes. Tight, structured clothing and shoes will be uncomfortable while you are traveling. They may also increase your risk of developing blood clots. Instead, wear something loose that fits you comfortably. Opt for stretchy pants with an elastic waistline and a loose fitting top, or wear a loose fitting jersey or cotton dress. Wear comfortable walking shoes as well, such as a pair of sneakers or comfortable sandals.
- You may also want to dress in layers in case you get too hot or too cold. For example, you could wear a short-sleeved top with a cardigan or pullover.
- Wear your seatbelt at all times. Buckle your seatbelt when you are going to be riding in a car, on a bus, or on an airplane. Make sure that the seatbelt is low around your hips and positioned under your belly. The top strap of a car seatbelt should go across your chest and be positioned above your belly.
- On an airplane, keep your seatbelt buckled even when the “fasten seatbelt” sign is off. Unexpected turbulence may jostle you around and this could result in an injury to your stomach if the turbulence is severe enough.
- Move your seat as far away from the steering wheel as you can. If you will be driving, position yourself as far away from the steering wheel as you can. Make sure that the position is comfortable and safe.
- For example, if it is hard for you to reach the steering wheel, then you need to be closer to it.
- Avoid foods that make you gassy. Gas-producing foods can increase your discomfort while traveling, so it is best to avoid them. Steer clear of carbonated beverages, beans, prunes, and any other food or drink that you know will make you gassy.
- For example, if eating raw vegetables gives you gas, then steer clear of raw vegetables until you reach your destination.
EditPlanning for Medical Emergencies
- Research medical care options where you are visiting. No matter where you are planning to go, it is important to make sure that you know where to access medical care if you need it during your trip. Check online to find the nearest hospital to where you are staying and program the address into your phone or GPS device.
- Look into what your insurance covers. Some insurance companies do not cover your medical expenses when you are out of the country. Check with your insurance company to find out if you will be covered in an emergency situation. If not, you may consider getting travel insurance so that any necessary medical expenses will be covered during your trip.
- Travel insurance comes in packages that cover any medical care you need during your travels as well as things like lost baggage, cancellation fees, loss of money or goods due to theft, and missed flights.
- Travel insurance is available from private companies like Travel Guard and Travelex.
- Pack a copy of your medical records. If you do need to seek emergency medical attention during your trip, having a copy of your medical records on hand may help the healthcare provider to identify the problem and treat you. Obtain a copy of your medical records from your doctor and keep it on you at all times during your travels.
- Make sure your travel companion knows where to find your medical records in case you are unable to get them yourself.
- Seek immediate medical attention for certain symptoms. In some cases, you may need to seek immediate medical attention during your trip. Go to an emergency room or call for emergency services if you experience:
- Vaginal bleeding.
- Ruptured membranes (water breaks).
- Pain in your abdomen or pelvis.
- Severe diarrhea or vomiting.
- Swelling in face and hands.
- Persistent headache.
- Seeing spots or having other vision changes.
- Warmth, redness, swelling, and pain in your leg.
EditSources and Citations
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