There are plenty of reasons you may want to travel while you’re pregnant. Maybe you want to visit that tropical resort before your new baby makes travel a little more complicated (and expensive). Or maybe you want to visit out-of-state family and reconnect before you welcome your new bundle of joy. Typically, these trips will be quite safe, especially if you talk to your OBGYN or Midwife and follow these tips for traveling when pregnant.
Tip #1: Check With Your OBGYN or Midwife First
Every pregnancy is unique. And traveling can present equally unique healthcare challenges. It depends on your destination, your mode of travel, and even your overall wellness. So, it’s important to run your plans by your OBGYN or Midwife first.
During this pre-trip visit, you can also ask your OBGYN or Midwife about disease and vaccination-related concerns, especially when it comes to:
- Zika Virus: The Zika Virus has been known to cause birth defects when pregnant people become infected. And while there are currently no known outbreaks of Zika in the United States, this may not always be the case. Checking with your provider can help you accurately assess your risks and check the CDC website to evaluate “hot zones” where Zika cases could be on the rise if you are traveling outside of the U.S.
- Covid-19: There are still certain states and countries where Covid-19 is more prevalent than others. In addition to the health concerns, a positive Covid test can complicate your travel plans. As a result, it’s a good idea to talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about these hot spots (especially since they often change).
Talking with your OBGYN or Midwife about your travel plans helps to keep them in the loop, lets them make specific healthcare recommendations (such as possible vaccines or medications you should take), and can help you stay informed about possible health risks (both in terms of your pregnancy and in terms of your destination).
Tip #2: Travel During Your Second Trimester (if Possible)
The first and third trimesters of pregnancy carry the greatest risk of complications. As a result, traveling during your second trimester (weeks 14-28) is generally considered to be the safest.
Your second trimester also tends to be the most comfortable. Your energy levels will likely be rebounding. And your morning sickness will likely be on the way out. During the third trimester, you’ll likely be working with your OBGYN or Midwife to get ready for the birth of your child!
Tip #3: Check with Your Airline Before You Travel
Airlines and cruises will usually have specific weeks after which they will no longer let you board. For airlines, this is usually 36 weeks. For cruises it may be closer to 28 weeks.
However, this may vary by airline, cruise, or carrier. So, you should just double check with your cruise company or airline to make sure you’ll still be allowed to travel.
Tip #4: Pack for your Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you’ll likely have some very specific needs as you travel. These needs can vary depending on the stage of your pregnancy, your destination, and your mode of travel. However, in general, people who are pregnant should plan on including the following items when you pack for your trip:
- Prenatal vitamins: You’ll want to make sure you pack enough prenatal vitamins for the duration of your entire trip. You may even want to pack a little extra, just in case a flight gets delayed here or canceled there.
- Medical records: Even if you’re at a very low risk for complications, the risk still exists—so bringing your medical records with you is a good idea. This can help local providers better treat you if anything should happen. This is especially true if you’re traveling overseas, as communication between providers may be more difficult in these circumstances.
- Medical provider and Hospital Facility: Before you leave on a trip it is often a good idea to know where you would go for care if you developed any pregnancy concerns during your travels. Doing this research ahead of time can reduce delay in care if an emergency arises.
- Provider-approved medications: You don’t want minor discomfort to keep you from enjoying your travels. That’s why most people bring some form of Tylenol with them—along with sleep aids or motion sickness remedies. It’s very important that you talk to your provider about these over-the-counter medications before you pack them (in other words, make sure they’re approved before you take them).
- Anything that will help you relax: This tip for traveling when pregnant may seem redundant, but it’s important enough to emphasize. Stress is the enemy—and travel can be especially stressful. So be sure to pack anything that will help you stay relaxed. This could be as simple as your favorite pillow, a book you enjoy, or a nice pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Tip #5: Purchase Travel Insurance
Many people (especially young people) have never really thought about travel insurance. And if that’s the case, now’s the time to look into it. Basically, travel insurance can help you recoup costs if something goes wrong, and you have to cancel your trip. From airfare to hotel, making individual cancellations can be stressful—and varying policies mean sometimes you’re out a lot of money.
Traveling while you’re pregnant can be unpredictable; maybe more unpredictable than you’re used to. Travel insurance means you’ll feel more comfortable canceling your trip, and that can enable you to make more informed decisions.
This type of insurance will also help you cover possible medical expenses you encounter while overseas or traveling. So if your water breaks while you’re in Milan, you might be able to avoid a hefty bill when you come home. It may be worth talking to a travel insurance specialist before you plan the entirety of your trip.
Tip #6: Embrace Those Healthy Habits
There are plenty of myths when it comes to pregnant people and healthy habits. When you’re traveling, staying healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat salad for dinner every evening (unless you OBGYN or Midwife have provided specific instructions). Instead, these simple tips are designed to keep you well and help you enjoy your trip:
- Stay hydrated: This will help with so many health issues—from constipation and UTIs to swelling and jet lag. Drink lots of non-caffeinated beverages (water is the best). If traveling outside the U.S. be sure to know what water sources are safe to drink to avoid exposure of infection.
- Eat small amounts throughout the day: This will help you stave off nausea if you’re still experiencing any morning sickness.
- Eat foods high in fiber and exercise regularly: This will help you avoid constipation.
- Don’t avoid or put off trips to the bathroom: Over time, this can lead to an increased risk of urinary tract infection (UTI). So, when possible, make sure you’re going when your body tells you it needs to go.
Tip #7: Know When to Seek Emergency Care
Sometimes it’s not always easy to know what’s normal—and what’s not—while you’re traveling. Seek out treatment immediately if any of the following symptoms occur:
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea.
- Membrane rupture (also known as your water breaking).
- You see spots or have changes in your vision, especially if it is accompanied by headaches. These could be symptoms of preeclampsia.
- Contractions, pelvic pain, or pain of the abdomen.
- Any symptoms that might be signs of deep vein thrombosis, such as swelling of the extremities or severe pain in the calf.
If any of these symptoms occur, you should seek medical attention immediately. In general, this means pulling out those references you researched prior to leaving on your trip and visiting a hospital or seeking out other emergency services. Any of these symptoms could quickly become serious, and it’s better to be safe than sorry—even on vacation!
Tips for Traveling When Pregnant Can Help You Enjoy Your Journey!
Whether you’re going by air, sea, or road, traveling can be a joyful and enriching experience—even if it’s also exhausting. If you’re thinking about traveling while you’re pregnant, talk to your OBGYN or Midwife about your plans—so you can make sure that you and your baby stay as safe as possible. These tips for traveling when pregnant will help, but there’s no substitute for information directly from your provider.