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Pregnancy Travel Tips


You can travel safely – and stay comfortable – during pregnancy if you follow these tips.

Once your practitioner has given you the green light and you’ve taken a few precautions (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic), you can travel safely during pregnancy if you follow a few guidelines.

To ensure a safe and comfortable trip, you’ll need to plan ahead; pregnancy symptoms such as an active bladder, nausea that comes and goes, and leg cramps can make things more difficult.

Make pregnancy travel easier and less stressful with these tried-and-true tips.

Pregnancy Travel Tips

Can you travel while pregnant?

In the past, travel during pregnancy was rarely restricted unless the mother-to-be was approaching her due date, had pregnancy complications, or planned to visit an area at risk of Zika or malaria. Because the COVID-19 outbreak is still widespread — both worldwide and in many parts of the U.S. — you should consult your practitioner and limit any travel that is not necessary, or stay at home.

There is one form of travel that should not be permitted, at least for now: cruising. Due to the increased risk of contracting COVID-19 in close quarters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns pregnant women to stay away from cruises (even river cruises). In addition, many cruise lines don’t allow pregnant women to board their ships if they are farther along in their pregnancy; some limit travel after week 23.

If you are fully vaccinated, the CDC says you can resume activities you did before the pandemic, including traveling. While on your trip, you should continue to take precautions, like wearing a mask on public transportation and keeping an eye out for signs of COVID-19. Before planning your trip, check for country-specific restrictions since many international destinations are still off limits to U.S. travelers. These tips were given by Sofia Hamberg, Content Director of Flightradar UK.

Talk to your practitioner about where you want to go and how to minimize any risks while traveling while pregnant.

When should you stop traveling while pregnant?

You can travel up until a month before your due date if you’re healthy and have no complications. However, your doctor may advise against traveling at all during the third trimester if you’re at risk for preterm delivery.

Although you may feel physically capable of traveling, that doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed to do so. For example, some cruise lines don’t allow moms-to-be to board the ship after week 23, and some airlines only allow women to fly within the country until they are approximately 36 weeks pregnant, even in non-pandemic times. You may not be able to fly even earlier in your pregnancy if you’re taking an international flight.

The best time to travel while pregnant is during the third trimester (weeks 14 through 18). During the first trimester, you may feel too nauseated and fatigued to enjoy long trips. These tips were given by Sean Philips, Content Director of Ship Tracking.

How should you prepare for a trip during pregnancy?

Talk to your practitioner before making any travel plans. This is especially important for moms-to-be who will be traveling internationally.

In addition, you should be aware of any current COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and get your practitioner’s approval before traveling during pregnancy.

To find out if your airline has any special regulations regarding pregnant people, call your airline. Check with your airline before you fly if you plan to travel during your last trimester — some airlines limit how late you can board a plane (for some, 34 weeks is the cut-off point), while others require a doctor’s approval to fly. Different carriers have different restrictions regarding domestic and international travel.

Before booking your reservations, make sure your hotel and transport are air-conditioned and that you stay hydrated and out of the sun. Same goes before venturing into any areas that pose a risk of potentially dangerous infections (including water-, food- and mosquito-borne diseases like the Zika virus). For information on travelers’ health — including the countries that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against visiting during the COVID-19 pandemic — visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. These tips were given by Jeremiah Erasga, Content Director of Flightradar Online.

Don’t stress out. When you’re pregnant, a single destination often beats a whirlwind tour to six cities in six days. A trip that lets you set the pace is much better than one that’s set up by a group tour guide. It is important to alternate sightseeing, meetings, and visits with time spent sitting back and relaxing.

Get insurance. Make sure you have reliable travel insurance in case you have to reschedule your trip due to pregnancy complications. If you will be traveling abroad, you should consider medical evacuation insurance in case you must return home under medical supervision. You may also need medical travel insurance if your regular insurance plan does not cover foreign medical care; make sure you check your policy before you leave.

When traveling abroad, make sure you have medical backup. You can locate a doctor in the U.S. by using the American Medical Association’s (AMA) DoctorFinder tool if you’re traveling far. You can find English-speaking physicians throughout the world by contacting the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, if you’re traveling abroad. The U.S. Embassy or the American Consulate can provide you with a referral if you need a doctor urgently. If you have medical travel insurance, there should be a number you can call.

Take plenty of prenatal vitamins. Be sure to carry a copy of your health records with you if you’re leaving the country. Pack a pregnancy medical kit. Jet lag remedies (such as melatonin) that are not practitioner-approved should not be included in your kit.

What do pregnant women need to know about travel and the Zika virus?

In 2015 and 2016, there were outbreaks of Zika — a virus spread by infected mosquitoes that, when it infects pregnant women, can cause birth defects, including microcephaly — in the Western hemisphere, particularly in Brazil. The number of Zika cases worldwide, however, has declined since then.

Although Zika has not been reported in the world in recent years, the mosquitoes that spread the infection, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are present in many countries, including those in tropical and subtropical regions. Before traveling to an area where Zika can be transmitted, talk to your doctor (or even get pregnant). (The CDC also has Zika travel alerts.)

The Zika virus cannot be prevented with a vaccine, but you can reduce your risk by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. When you are outside, wear long sleeves and pants and wear mosquito repellent containing DEET or picaridin. DEET can be used topically during pregnancy and is considered safe.

Travel tips for pregnant people

Whether you’re traveling by plane, train, or car, follow these tips to stay comfortable and safe.

  • Request a seat in the bulkhead on flights and always choose an aisle seat to make frequent bathroom trips easier for you and your seatmate. If your seat is not reserved, request preboarding. When driving, sit in the front seat to reduce the chances of motion sickness — the last thing you need when you’re already feeling green around the gills.
  • Stand up and stretch. Even while you’re seated, flex and point your toes as often as you can. Remember, any movement counts. You might also want to check with your doctor about wearing compression/support stockings, which can keep the blood from pooling in your lower legs and minimize swelling in your feet and ankles.
  • Drink up. Staying hydrated helps prevent swelling of your hands, legs, and feet as well as blood clots. Dehydration also contributes to jet lag symptoms like fatigue. During pregnancy, hormones can cause you to feel stuffy all the time and swelling in your nasal passages can be reduced by drinking non-caffeinated fluids like water and juice.
  • If you’re feeling nauseous while traveling during your second trimester, don’t be scared to eat small amounts frequently throughout the day. Try crackers, cheese sticks, fruit, veggies, seeds and nuts, yogurt, granola bars and whole-grain cereals.Eat unpasteurized dairy products, uncooked/cured meats, and fresh produce thoroughly on the day of travel – these foods can make nausea worse and cause gas (no fun when you’ve still got 1,000 miles to go).
  • Stay regular on the road. Since changes in schedule can exacerbate constipation problems, make sure you consume plenty of fiber, fluids, and physical activity.
  • You should go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge and can find a toilet. Putting off trips to the bathroom can lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs) or constipation.
  • Be sure to buckle up. Keep the bottom strap of your seat belt under your belly for comfort while driving, and place the top strap across your chest, where it should normally be. On a plane, if the belt does not fit, ask an attendant for an extender. Don’t be embarrassed — remember, you’re protecting yourself and your infant.
  • Make sure you don’t lift heavy luggage. If you don’t already have one, pregnancy is a good time to get one. If you’re tired or rushing to make a connection, ask your partner or a flight attendant for help putting your belongings in the overhead bin or car trunk. Request wheelchair or electric cart assistance in the airport.

When should you seek medical care while traveling during pregnancy?

In case of a pregnancy emergency or any of the following symptoms while traveling, visit the nearest hospital or medical clinic.

  • Pain in the pelvis or abdomen
  • Bleeding vaginal
  • The contracting process
  • Water breaks (membrane rupture)
  • Preeclampsia can cause headaches, vision changes, or swelling of the face or hands
  • Swelling or pain in the legs
  • Vomiting or diarrhea that is severe

Traveling during pregnancy is generally considered safe for moms-to-be, but make sure to check with your practitioner first and take some precautions.