Top Tips for Traveling While Pregnant
Sure, pregnancy can be exhausting, but it doesn’t mean taking a trip is out of the question—you just need to do a little pre-travel prep. Knowing about any medical or policy restrictions and how to stay as safe and comfortable as possible is key to making your trip a success. Whether you’re planning a babymoon, traveling for work or visiting family—and going by air, road or sea—check out these top tips for traveling while pregnant.
• Check how late into pregnancy the airline will let you fly. Flying while pregnant can be safe, even well into your third trimester. After week 36, however, most doctors—and airlines—don’t want you traveling by plane. Other airlines have stricter cutoffs (some international flights, for example, won’t let you fly past 28 weeks), so before you book your trip, ask a ticket agent or airline representative what those restrictions are. Don’t forget to consider how far along in your pregnancy you’ll be when it’s time to board your return flight.
• Get your doctor’s okay. Of course, determining whether it’s safe to fly depends on your individual pregnancy. Ashley Roman, MD, an ob-gyn with NYU Langone in New York City, recommends that women who have any sort of pregnancy complications or who are considered to be high risk shouldn’t travel by air during the later weeks of pregnancy. This includes women with diabetes, sickle cell disease, placental abnormalities and hypertension, or those at risk for premature labor. “If you’re pregnant with multiples, you may want to hold off too,” she says. “If a patient is having triplets, I recommend that they not fly after 20 to 24 weeks.” Before booking your flights, talk to your doctor about your travel plans to get their sign-off.
• Get up and stretch your legs. During pregnancy, you’re more at risk of developing blood clots in your legs and other parts of the body—and sitting for long periods of time compounds that risk. To make your flight more comfortable (not to mention safe), wear loose clothing, avoid crossing your legs and walk around the cabin every two hours to aid your circulation and lessen the risk of blood clots. Wearing compression socks can also help support circulation.
• Eat well and stay hydrated. Skip any gas-producing foods and carbonated drinks before your flight, since gas expands in the cabin’s low air pressure and can cause discomfort. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
• Always wear your seatbelt. It can save both your and baby’s life. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), buckling up through all stages of pregnancy is the single most effective action you can take to protect you and baby in the event of a crash. Wear your seatbelt across your chest between your breasts, with the lap belt secured below your belly so that it’s snug across your hips and upper thighs. You don’t want to place it over or on top of your belly, and never put it under your arm or behind your back.
• Don’t turn off the airbags. Some women worry about airbags, but doctors recommend that moms-to-be leave the air bags on. They’re designed to work together with seatbelts to provide the best protection for you and baby.
• Adjust your seat. If you’re in the driver’s seat, you want to make as much space as possible between your bump and the steering wheel. The NHTSA suggests moving the seat as far back as possible, avoiding leaning or reaching forward and sitting back against the seat with as little slack in the belt as possible to minimize your forward movement in a crash.
• Plan for pit-stops. As with flying, take frequent rest stops. Get out of the car and walk around, hit the restroom, drink a lot of water and pick up a snack. Traveling with your pillow and taking turns with another driver will also make your ride more comfortable. When sitting in the passenger seat, keep your feet elevated to avoid swelling and leg cramps.
Check cruise pregnancy policies. As with airlines, ask the cruise line about their boarding policies for pregnant passengers. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruise Lines, for example, won’t allow you to travel on their ship if you’re entering the 24th week of pregnancy by the last day of the cruise.
Get your doctor’s approval. If you’re high risk or experiencing complications, or prone to motion sickness, they may advise choosing another type of vacation.
Make sure there’s a doctor on board. If you and your doctor decide a cruise is okay, make sure there’s a health care provider on board in case any complications come up. Keep in mind that many smaller ships (fewer than 100 passengers) don’t have medical personnel on staff. Also, it’s smart to check your health insurance policy to ensure you’ll be covered if you have any complications on board.
Review the route. Carefully consider where the ship will be stopping to find out if the local cuisine and activities will be pregnancy-friendly, and see whether there’s access to any medical facilities if needed at the various ports-of-call.
Fill any prescriptions ahead of time. Don’t rely on a shipboard pharmacy to have your medications—stock up on prescriptions before you leave.
Updated November 2018
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