Is it safe to travel during pregnancy? Yes. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) women can travel safely until they are 36 weeks pregnant, just as long as both mom-to-be and baby are healthy. Whether is a babymoon, a business trip or a trip to visit family during the holiday season, talk to your trusted healthcare provider first. If they give you the okay, then pack your bags… and keep a few of these pregnancy travel tips in mind!
1. The best time to travel during pregnancy is between week 14 and week 28, as most common pregnancy problems happen during the first and third trimesters, according to ACOG. Morning sickness is usually (and hopefully) gone, you have a little more energy, and it’s still fairly easy to get around. The best advice is to keep an eye on how you feel and go from there.
2. When traveling by plane, plan ahead. Check airline policies when booking flights, as cutoff points may vary between 28 – 36 weeks of pregnancy. Some airlines may restrict travel completely or require a medical certificate for travel. Also, some cruise lines may also restrict travel (most after 24-28 weeks). Check on this before you book, if possible and definitely before you get ready to board. Because pregnancies are often unpredictable, it’s worth buying travel insurance to cover the cost of date changes, tickets and deposits that cannot be refunded.
3. Whether traveling by plane, train, bus or car, make sure you get up and stretch. According to ACOG, pregnancy increases the risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition where blood clots form in the veins or legs of your body. Sitting or not moving around for long periods of time can lead to DVT. When you’re traveling by plane, try and get an aisle seat. When you’re in the car, make frequent stops to stretch your legs. Also, drink plenty of fluids, wear loose-fitting clothes and comfortable shoes.
4. Have the name of a local OB/GYN on hand at the place where you are going. Also, locate the nearest hospital or clinic. If you’re traveling on a cruise ship, check to make sure there will be a doctor or nurse on board. You’ll never know if an emergency comes up. For international travel, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) provides resources on finding English-speaking doctors by location, and also any potential health risks where you are going. Both ACOG and the American Medical Association (AMA) have ‘doctor finders’ to help locate a healthcare professional.
5. Pack accordingly. When putting everything together, don’t forget a few key items:
- A copy of your prenatal records
- Prenatal vitamins
- A ‘travel health kit’ with medications for sore throat, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, motion sickness and pain. Check with your healthcare provider on what is safe to take while pregnant.
- Water bottle
- Healthy snacks (to keep up with your good eating habits and satisfy any cravings)
- Your favorite pillow – comfort is essential!
When traveling, be safe, wear your seat belt and prepare for your upcoming journey, and of course the greater journey which is motherhood.