Traveling while pregnant can bring questions and concerns for any new mom-to-be. Leaving the comfort of home and quick access to your go-to OB can be met with a normal dose of apprehension. But turn those butterflies into empowering thoughts with these doctor-recommended tips from AdventHealth.
Get Your Travel in by 36 Weeks
Whether it’s travel by airplane or car, it’s best to complete travel by 36 weeks for a singleton pregnancy or 32 weeks for a twin pregnancy; 37 weeks is considered full term and women generally experience higher discomfort and risk of going into labor at this stage in the third trimester.
Some airlines restrict flight travel for women at as early as 28 weeks. Check your airline’s policy for travel while pregnant, as some may require a medical certificate and others may have additional restrictions.
For many reasons, it’s important for expecting mothers to take breaks while traveling. Getting up to stretch can help increase blood flow, prevent stiff muscles and joints and even reduce the risk of blood clots, for which pregnant women are at a higher risk.
We recommend taking breaks to rest, stretch and walk around every two hours or less while traveling. If you’re flying, pick an aisle seat so it’s easier to get up and walk around. If driving, route to some stops along the way so you can do the same.
Prioritize Your Safety and Comfort
The ideal travel window for most pregnant women is between 14 and 28 weeks. During this time, women tend to feel their best and experience fewer complications.
When traveling by car, it’s also important to place the seatbelt in the safest position during pregnancy. Ensure the buckle is low below your belly and on your hip bones with the shoulder strap off to the side of your belly, not across the center.
Your nutrition and hydration are also important to consider while away from your normal routine. Always have water close by. Stay hydrated, pack healthy snacks, wear comfortable clothing and keep food safety in mind if you’re not cooking your own meals while traveling.
Talk to Your OB
Every woman and her pregnancy is unique. And her travel recommendations can be, too.
If you have a health condition that would put you at high risk to travel, your OB might have specific recommendations to limit travel earlier on in your pregnancy or have other modifications to suggest, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about any travel plans.
During the third trimester, many health care providers advise staying within a 300-mile radius of home because of potential problems such as high blood pressure, phlebitis, and false or pre-term labor. Women with conditions such as preeclampsia, premature ruptured membranes or a history of pre-term labor are advised not to travel away from home.
Have an Emergency Plan
If you’re traveling while pregnant, it’s essential to have an emergency plan in case you experience an unexpected health change miles from home. Before you leave, check that your health insurance is valid at different hospitals or in other states, and whether your plan will cover a newborn, should you deliver while away.
If you have minor symptoms or questions while traveling, you can call your OB’s office for recommendations by phone. But it’s critical to know which symptoms could mean something more serious and get to the nearest emergency department for an evaluation. These symptoms include:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Severe pelvic abdominal pain
- Water rupture
- Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia (visual disturbances, severe swelling, high blood pressure)
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Symptoms of a blood clot (painful and swollen extremity — usually affecting the legs)
For most women, traveling while pregnant is safe. But it’s always important to keep your OB/GYN up-to-date with your plans and prioritize your (and your baby’s) whole health before hitting the road.
Learn more about the whole health services and support we offer mom's to be at AdventHealth.