When you prepare to travel during pregnancy, make your health and comfort your top priorities. Use this guide to help you make the most of your travel experience while you are pregnant.
Choose The Right Time for Travel During Pregnancy
Discuss the dates and durations of your plans to travel, and the mode of transportation you plan to use on your trip during that time with your obstetrician, as it may affect his/her advice.
First trimester — The risks of nausea and miscarriage are highest during the early stage of pregnancy. Also, if you are at increased risk for complications, your doctor may restrict travel.
Second trimester — Doctors often recommend the second trimester to travel. Between the 20th and 30th week is the best range for travel during pregnancy. Risk of complication is also lowest during this time. The morning sickness has probably passed by the second trimester, and likely has not yet begun to experience the fatigue that the third trimester can bring.
Third trimester — Try not to travel after 36th, or at the latest, after the 38th week of pregnancy. Fatigue is increased, and risk of preterm birth is higher during this phase.
Choose a Domestic Destination
It can be tempting to visit a far-away destination before you take on mothering responsibilities. But, try to stay within the U.S., to reduce risks of contaminated food and water and poor quality medical care. Some things to avoid in making your travel plans:
- Cities with very high altitudes — The CDC advises that pregnant women, especially those with at-risk or complicated pregnancies, avoid sleeping at elevations higher than 12,000 feet.
- Scuba diving — Do not go scuba diving while pregnant. Go for leisurely swims, or try a pregnancy-modified yoga session on the beach, or other light activity instead.
- Vaccines — If you plan to travel to a region with malaria, or to other regions requiring vaccinations, discuss this with your doctor far in advance of your departure.
The best choice of transport for pregnant women is automobile. The options for obtaining whatever you may need are much more flexible. You also have quicker access to emergency medical facilities. And, you can stop frequently to stretch, take restroom breaks, get beverages, etc.
- Fasten your seat belt below your belly, resting it against your hip bones. Position the shoulder strap across the center of your chest and over to the side and above your belly.
- Limit driving time to six hours per day, including a number of stretch breaks.
- Likelihood of motion sickness is increased for pregnant women. Ask your doctor about safe nausea medications during pregnancy.
- If you do the driving, move your seat back to position the steering wheel at least 10 inches away from your breastbone, to reduce risk of harm to your baby in case of airbag deployment.
Air travel is normally considered safe during the first and second trimesters. Plane travel during the third trimester is discouraged, because risk of complications is increased. Changes in air pressure can impact your baby’s developing ears. Also, recycled air inside a plane increases your risk of viral infections.
- If you plan to travel during later stages of pregnancy, check to confirm that the airline policy for pregnant women allows you to travel. Bring documentation from your doctor that confirms your due date.
- When going through airport security, ask the security agents (TSA agents) for a security pat-down, if possible, instead of using AIT body scanners that spin around you.
- Do not lift heavy luggage from conveyor belts. Ask another passenger for help lifting.
- Sit on the isle, so you can stretch your legs and frequently get up and walk.
- Gasses expand at higher altitudes. To avoid discomfort, don’t consume gassy foods or beverages, like carbonated soda, broccoli, etc. prior to your flight.
Take Stretch Breaks Every One to Two Hours
Pregnant women are at higher risk for blood clotting. Sitting for extended periods of time further increases the risk. Wear loose-fitting shoes, to be comfortable if swelling occurs in flight. Consider wearing compression socks or tights to keep blood flowing.
Bring Your Prenatal Records
Take a copy of your prenatal records on your trip, including prescriptions, medical history, and medical notes. If you need treatment by a doctor while you are away, your medical records will help the doctor understand the best and safest course of actions to take to help you.
Get Pregnancy Travel Advise from Your Doctor
Even if you have been experiencing no complications, it is recommended that you consult with your obstetrician about how to travel while pregnant, to help ensure a healthy and safe trip for you and your baby. Women with higher-risk pregnancy may be advised against traveling.
The Woman’s Clinic
The Woman’s Clinic’s board certified physician’s limit our medical practice to women’s health care in routine and high-risk gynecology and obstetrics. For more information about traveling during pregnancy, contact The Woman’s Clinic at (501) 664-4131, to make an appointment to see a Little Rock OBGYN.