Traveling While Pregnant

You can travel safely by car, boat, plane or train through much of your pregnancy. After 36 weeks of pregnancy, however, airlines request that you not fly, and your healthcare provider may ask you to stay within driving distance of the hospital.

Before week 36, a few simple precautions will keep you safe on your journeys:

  • Always wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a car. One study found that pregnant women who used a 3-point restraint, with or without airbag deployment, reduced the risk of injury to the baby by 84%. Place the lap belt as low as possible across your abdomen, against your upper thighs. Place the upper belt across your shoulder and between your breasts. Adjust both parts of the belt to fit snugly.
  • Traveling by air is safe until week 36. Metal detectors and full body scanners at airport security checkpoints are not believed to be harmful to babies. When you fly, ask for an aisle seat so that you can stand up and walk around whenever possible and reach the bathroom easily. Avoid flying in small planes with unpressurized cabins at altitudes higher than 7,000–9,000 feet.
  • Discuss any long-distance traveling with your healthcare provider as you near the end of your pregnancy. If you must travel in your second or third trimester, be sure that you will be able to stand up and walk around at least every 2 hours to reduce swelling in your feet and legs. This also reduces the risk of blood clots forming in your legs.
  • Carry light snacks with you to avoid nausea, and drink extra fluids (especially when flying). According the American College Of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Dramamine appears to be OK to take for motion sickness or nausea before flying or boating, though the effectiveness varies for different women.
  • Schedule a prenatal appointment before you leave and take a copy of your medical records with you. If you plan to be away for more than a couple of weeks, ask your healthcare provider for the name of a provider in the area you are visiting, in case of emergency.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider first if you plan to travel out of the country. Depending on where you are going, you may need immunizations you can’t have during pregnancy. Some places may expose you to contaminated water or food that can cause diarrhea and other illnesses of concern to pregnant women.

More recently, Zika virus has become a serious concern for pregnant women, particularly if they live in or are traveling to an area where the virus is present. Typically spread by mosquitoes, Zika can cause birth defects in the unborn fetus of a woman infected with the virus. Zika can also be spread through sex with an infected partner.

Talk with your healthcare provider about Zika and take preventive measures against the virus.

More about Zika.

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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