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If you plan to travel while you’re pregnant, it’s normal to feel nervous about it. Even if you’re about to take a fun family trip, as a mom-to-be you may be anxious about leaving the comforts of home and having quick access to your go-to obstetrician (OB).
Take These Tips on Your Travels
You can turn those twinges of anxiety into empowering thoughts. Along with your bags, pack these tips from our expert, J. Anthony Reed, MD.
1. Travel Before You Get to 36 Weeks
Whether you travel by airplane or car, it’s best to finish traveling by 36 weeks for a single-baby pregnancy or 32 weeks for a twin pregnancy. That’s because 37 weeks is considered full term. Women often have more discomfort and a higher risk of going into labor at this stage in the third trimester.
Dr. Reed also advises, “Check your airline’s policy for travel while pregnant. Some may need you to bring a medical certificate and others may have added restrictions. Get to the airport even earlier than usual for your departure and return flights.”
2. Give Yourself a Break – Lots of Them
For many reasons, it’s important for moms-to-be to take breaks during travel. Dr. Reed recommends, “Get up to stretch. It can help increase blood flow and prevent stiff muscles and joints. It can even lower the risk of blood clots, since pregnant women are at a higher risk for those. Take breaks to rest, stretch and walk around at least every two hours, no matter how you’re traveling.
“Even if you’re on a plane,” he adds, “it’s very important to get up and walk around. Just make sure you’re prepared for turbulence when you do get up.”
3. Make Your Safety and Comfort a Priority
If you travel by car, it’s important to place the seatbelt in the safest position. “Put the buckle low below your belly and on your hip bones. The shoulder strap should be off to the side of your belly (not across the center),” Dr. Reed explains.
Eating healthy foods and staying hydrated are also important while you’re away from your normal routines.
Dr. Reed advises, “Always have water and healthy snacks with you. Keep food safety in mind, especially if you’re not cooking your own meals while traveling. Also, try to avoid gas-producing foods, especially when you’re on a plane. These can make you feel more uncomfortable because of increased pressure while flying.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)offers more health and safety tips for pregnant women. They discuss vaccines if you’re going overseas and also how to prevent infectious disease. The CDC offers added food and water safety tips that are important to know based on where you’re going.
4. Keep Your OB in the Loop
Every woman and pregnancy is unique. And her travel advice may be, too.
“If a pregnant woman has a health condition that would put her at high risk to travel, her OB might have specific counsel to limit travel,” advises Dr. Reed.
Women with certain conditions are advised not to travel away from home. These include:
- Preeclampsia (a complication that involves high blood pressure)
- Premature ruptured membranes
- History of pre-term labor
5. Put Your Emergency Plan in Place
A plan can bring peace of mind. If you’re traveling while pregnant, have an emergency plan just in case there’s an unexpected change in your health when you’re miles from home.
With that in mind, Dr. Reed says, “Even before you leave, make sure your health insurance is valid at different hospitals or in other states. Also, know whether your plan will cover a newborn, should you deliver the baby while you’re away. It’s always a good idea to travel with a copy of your OB chart in case of an emergency. Ask your OB office for your chart many weeks before you leave home.”
Dr. Reed explains that it’s critical to know which symptoms could mean something serious so you can go to the nearest emergency room to be checked. These symptoms include:
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Symptoms of a blood clot (painful and swollen legs)
- Symptoms of preeclampsia (problems with vision, severe swelling, high blood pressure)
- Vaginal bleeding
- Water rupture
Ready for the Road? Enjoy!
For most women, traveling while pregnant is safe. Still, it’s smart to keep your OB up-to-date with your travel plans. That’s putting your well-being and your baby’s health first. Then you can set off feeling ready for new adventures before you have the biggest adventure of all — your new baby.