Traveling while pregnant
Gema Fernandez, MD, is an OB/GYN on staff at Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: I am newly pregnant but have plans to travel during the next year. Are there limitations on how much I can travel or where I can go?
Answer: Travel safety is a common concern among moms-to-be. You will want to speak with your doctor first, but it is generally safe to travel while pregnant (provided there are no other medical conditions). In fact, most major transportation carriers allow women to travel up to their eighth month of pregnancy.
Even though it is safe, that doesn’t necessarily mean traveling is comfortable. Car rides can mean long stretches between bathrooms, train and bus aisles are a tight squeeze, and flights can lead to swollen ankles—even when you’re not pregnant. In the end, your energy level and personal comfort will likely dictate your limits. It is important to listen to your body and recognize your limitations.
If possible, try not to travel more than six hours at a time, especially later in pregnancy. It is a good idea to walk the aisles, perform “point and flex” ankle exercises, and stretch often. When traveling by car, plan for plenty of rest stops. And always wear safety belts low across your pelvis – never across your stomach.
Planning trips during the second trimester is considered the best time. Morning sickness in the first trimester and potential issues of pre-term labor during the third trimester can sometimes make travel less than ideal. Should you travel during the third trimester, try to stay within 300 miles of home in case any complications develop.
Pregnant travelers have a few additional considerations when preparing for trips. Along with comfortable clothing, keep plenty of water and snacks on hand. It is very important to stay hydrated. You should also have copies of your prenatal medical records and health insurance information readily available.
Before traveling internationally, talk with your doctor about the potential need for vaccinations, protection against disease and bacteria, a game plan for emergencies, and food and water considerations.
Whenever you travel, always keep your physician informed of where you are going and how long you will be there. Discuss any risks of your destination, or complications in your pregnancy that would suggest special consideration.