You’re pregnant and your daily routine is about to go by the wayside. Not that that’s bad. With a little one on the way, it just means you will soon have more important matters to fill your day than keeping to a schedule of your own.
If traveling has been a regular enjoyment for you, now may be a good time for one more getaway before baby arrives. In most cases, it’s safe for women with low-risk pregnancies to travel. Just remember to talk with your OB/GYN or other health care professional as you plan your trip. Then go ahead and book your flight, pack your bags and read on for more tips for traveling safely and comfortably during pregnancy.
Take Advantage of Your Second Trimester
The best time to travel is mid-pregnancy, around 14 to 28 weeks. During this time, many moms-to-be find that their energy has returned, and morning sickness has either improved or gone. After 28 weeks, it may become hard to move around or sit for a long time.
Know Before You Go
A road trip is doable most anytime, but the further along you are, the more uncomfortable a long car ride may be. Plus, your insurance company may not cover your baby’s birth should you deliver in an out-of-network hospital. So do a little digging regarding your policy, especially if you’re close to your due date.
“Before you get on the road or set foot on a plane, do some research about reputable hospitals in the area where you will be going,” recommends Catherine Olsen, D.O., obstetrician/gynecologist on the medical staff at Texas Health Rockwall and Texas Health Women’s Care, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. “I like to suggest to my patients that they program one or two numbers and addresses in their phone in the unlikely event of an emergency.”
Olsen also advises her pregnant patients against air travel after week 36, even earlier if a woman is carrying multiples. “The airlines have policies about permitting pregnant women to travel on their flights, so be sure to check before booking and carry a note from your doctor stating how far along you are in case you get asked,” she adds.
Get Comfortable, But Not Too Comfortable
Whatever your mode of travel, try to limit the amount of time you’re cooped up. (You’ll likely have to pee often, anyway.)
“Keep travel time to five or six hours at the longest,” Olsen suggests. “If you’re on the road, use rest stops to take short walks to keep the blood circulating. If you find yourself on a flight, try to get an aisle seat near the front of the plane and stand, walk or stretch whenever you can. At the very least, do your best to flex your calf muscles up and down to reduce your risk of blood clots. Put your feet up as much as you can and prop a small pillow behind your back to help make you comfortable during your excursion. And, always wear your seat belt — below your belly.”
Fast food restaurants and gas stations will likely outnumber healthy stops on your road trip. And, what free meals and snacks are still offered on flights may not be very healthy or suit your cravings. It’s best to pack granola bars, trail mix, fruit, veggies and lots of other fiber-rich, energy-boosting snacks to keep you feeling well and hydrated.
Skip the Remote Itinerary
Most travel is fine, but now may not be the time to plan an international safari getaway or jungle adventure. Consider that many recommended prevention medications intended to keep people safe from diseases like malaria or typhoid fever aren’t to be taken during pregnancy. Plus, travelers in developing countries can get sick if they eat raw or undercooked food or drink contaminated water.
“Diseases like hepatitis A and listeriosis can cause severe complications for a pregnant woman and her fetus,” Olsen explains. “Besides, you want to be sure you’re somewhere with access to good medical care and modern hospitals. If you do choose to travel outside the country, be sure to carry a copy of your health record with you.”
Don’t Overdo It
Even if you’ve always been a go-getter, pregnancy is a time to slow it down and not overload your schedule. Resist the urge to reunite with every family member within a 50-mile radius before baby comes. (Let them travel to you for a visit with the new baby when the time is right.)
Enjoy your trip and think about booking a prenatal massage when you get back home.
Pregnancy, Travel and the Coronavirus
Before making any travel plans while COVID-19 continues to spread, talk with your Ob/Gyn. Together, you can assess whether your travel is essential or should be postponed, and you can make a plan to help minimize risk to you and your unborn baby.
For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 travel website. Learn about COVID-19 and pregnancy from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.