Traveling during pregnancy is an excellent way to help pregnant women have time to relax and incorporate appropriate physical activity. However, as with everything else during your pregnancy, a little extra planning, precaution, and care will ensure your safety and that of your baby. Always check with your doctor before traveling, and make sure he or she knows when you are going, where, and for how long.
Foreign travel poses important issues for pregnant women. For example, your body may not be accustomed to bacteria and diseases that are prevalent in some foreign countries, making you susceptible to upset stomach, diarrhea, and dehydration. Language problems can also make accurate diagnosis and correct treatment difficult. The following are some additional issues to consider when traveling internationally while pregnant:
- If at all possible, travel with at least one companion.
- Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov or 1-877-394-8747 to receive safety information and vaccination facts related to your travel itinerary.
- Drink only bottled water. Don’t use ice cubes made from tap water in your drinks and don’t use glasses or cups that have been washed in tap water. Canned juices and soft drinks are acceptable alternatives.
- Make sure any milk you drink is pasteurized.
- Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables unless they are cooked or can be peeled.
- Only eat meat and fish that are well cooked.
- Check medical facilities at your destination and whether your insurance will cover you while there.
Traveling to high altitudes is not recommended while you are pregnant. Altitudes over 13,000 feet should be avoided, and heights of 8,000 feet and higher should be avoided in late or high-risk pregnancies. Pregnancy at (unaccustomed) high altitude has been associated with intrauterine growth retardation and higher rates of pregnancy-induced hypertension.
Before traveling abroad, know your blood type and determine whether the blood supplies are screened for HIV and hepatitis B at your destination. Hepatitis E (HEV) can be especially dangerous for pregnant women. HEV is caused by ingesting water contaminated with feces.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to malaria and if infected, they are more likely to suffer a severe reaction. Pregnant women are twice as attractive to mosquitoes as other people. Researchers believe this is due to the fact that pregnant women breathe 20 percent heavier and have a higher body temperature, which may result in more perspiration. Breathing and sweat both attract mosquitoes. The mortality rate for pregnant women infected with malaria is 2 to 10 times higher than other adults. There are also a limited number of preventative drugs and treatments for malaria that are safe during pregnancy. While few problems have been reported, you should avoid excessive use of DEET-based insect repellents since they are absorbed through the skin. Lemon eucalyptus-based repellents are not readily absorbed through the skin, so they may be a better choice for pregnant women. However, neither type of repellent has been formally tested for pregnant women.
More research is needed to determine the effect of West Nile virus on unborn babies. In 2002 there was one case of transmission of West Nile virus from a mother to her fetus. The newborn was later born infected with the virus and had severe neurological problems. However, it was never proven that the West Nile virus caused the baby’s abnormalities. Several other mothers infected with the virus in 2002 did not pass the infection on to their fetuses and the baby’s were born normally. If you think you may be infected with West Nile virus (symptoms include fever, headaches, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, confusion, muscle weakness, and sensitivity to light) you should see your doctor immediately and be tested for the virus.
Most airlines allow pregnant women to travel domestically up to their 36th week and internationally up to their 32nd week. However, each airline has its own policy, so check with your airline before you fly. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the safest time for you to travel is during your second trimester. You’ll generally be feeling your best and have the lowest risk of miscarriage or premature labor. Women in their third trimester are advised to stay within 300 miles of home in case of sudden complications.
Depending on your size while pregnant, you may have a harder time getting comfortable in a coach airplane seat. If you can’t afford to upgrade your seat, request an aisle seat at the bulkhead for maximum space. Be sure to bring a bottle of water with you on the plane and drink frequently to counteract the effects of the low-humidity cabins. Get up and walk around every half hour if possible and stretch your legs often to prevent phlebitis. Always wear your safety belt while seated, and be sure it is placed low on your pelvic bone, and never across your belly. While you are pregnant, travel on major airlines with pressurized cabins and avoid smaller (un-pressurized) planes. If you must take a smaller, un-pressurized plane, avoid flying at altitudes above 7,000 feet.
Traveling by sea while you are pregnant is generally considered safe. However, most cruise lines have restrictions against women sailing during their third trimester. If you are taking a cruise during your first trimester, the motion of the boat may exacerbate your morning sickness.
Check with the cruise line to determine whether there is a physician on board in case you develop any complications. Many smaller ships (those with 100 passengers or less) generally do not have medical personnel on staff. Larger ships are also more stable on rough seas. For the smoothest ride, get a cabin in the middle of the ship, close to the water line.
Make sure that your health insurance policy will cover you if you develop any complications while on board or at a port-of-call. Also, check your scheduled ports-of-call to find out about their medical facilities and other safety issues such as water supplies, disease outbreaks, etc. Less developed countries may have a shortage of trained doctors and nurses, sterile equipment, and safe blood.
Car travel is safe during pregnancy, although you may need to allow extra time for bathroom and stretch breaks on long trips. Always wear your seat belt low across your pelvic bone and never across your belly, and position the shoulder belt snugly between your breasts. Air bags are as safe during pregnancy as they are at any other time, so don’t disconnect them. There is a potential risk associated with airbags because they open with such force; however, the benefits of their use outweigh the risks. To minimize the risk of injury during airbag deployment, sit as far back as possible – at least ten inches from the dashboard or steering wheel, wherever the airbag is located.
If you are in a car accident of any sort, regardless of severity or how far along you are in your pregnancy, you should be checked out by a doctor immediately, even if you feel fine.
Buses and trains tend to have narrow aisles and cramped bathrooms; however, both modes of transportation are safe during your pregnancy. Be sure to hang on to the seat backs when walking up and down the aisles.
If you experience any of the following complications while traveling, you should seek immediate medical attention:
- Impaired vision
- Ruptured membranes
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Passing clots or tissue
- Excessive swelling of your legs
The bottom line for traveling while pregnant is to take extra precautions, listen to your body, and always discuss your travel plans with your doctor before you leave.
Should you travel far during pregnancy?
For most women, traveling while pregnant is safe, as long as your health and your baby’s health is good enough. You can travel safely until the 36th-week gestation.
When is the best time to travel during pregnancy?
During pregnancy, the best time to have a trip is between 14 and 28 weeks. Because most of the common pregnant problems occur during the first and third trimesters. Meanwhile, in the middle of pregnancy, the health of the women will be stable again, and the sickness stops. So you can confidently and efficiently to move.
However, please pay attention to your health to decide whether to travel far during pregnancy.
When are you not recommend to travel during pregnancy?
Going away is not recommended in situations where pregnant women have several pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, premature rupture of membranes and preterm labor. Travelling is also not a good idea if pregnant women are pregnant with multiple pregnancies.
Which area should you avoid?
Traveling during pregnancy is not recommended for women in areas where Zika outbreaks are occurring. Zika is a disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which can cause severe congenital disabilities. Pregnant women are also not advised to travel to areas where there is malaria, a mosquito-borne illness, which could be dangerous for you and your baby.
What should you do before traveling?
Before traveling, you should do the following things to ensure a safe and comfortable trip:
- Schedule an appointment with an obstetrician before you leave
- Know in advance the due date. If you are in a situation where you have trouble traveling, make sure that caregivers know where you are.
- Take any medications you may need, including drugs that your doctor recommends, such as painkillers, anal hemorrhoids, first aid kits, and essential vitamins.
- Check that you have been fully vaccinated.
- Calculate the time before departure to a particular destination. The fastest way is usually the best.
- Travel plans during pregnancy should be flexible and easy- to – change. And you should consider buying travel insurance before you go.
Some tips on how to travel for pregnant women
What are some tips for traveling by car?
On a car trip, take as little daily driving time as possible. Always wear seatbelt whenever in the vehicle. And you should place the cord under the hip bone and abdomen. The shoulder straps should be brought out to the side of the stomach and diagonal across the center of the chest. Plan breaks at frequent stops, so you can move and stretch your legs, to avoid clot formation.
What are some tips for traveling by plane?
You should only fly before the fetus is 36 weeks old. On the other hand, some airlines do not allow pregnant women to operate or require a medical certificate in the last month of pregnancy.
For some international flights, they only accept pregnant women under 28 weeks to fly. Therefore, when planning a trip away, be sure to check the policy of the airline when booking the ticket.
So, above is the necessary information you should not go to before traveling. We hope that the data is helpful for you to have a safe and comfortable trip.