travel during pregnancy

Travel During Pregnancy

Is travel safe during pregnancy? In most cases, traveling during pregnancy is perfectly safe. As long as both the expectant mother and her baby are in good health, traveling can be undertaken until you reach the 36-week mark of pregnancy. Travel may not be recommended if you have pregnancy complications. If you are planning a trip, talk with your gynecologist (ob-gyn).

When is Traveling Not Advised ?

However, there are circumstances when traveling is not recommended. Women with certain pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia, premature rupture of membranes, or preterm labor, should avoid traveling. Multiple pregnancies, such as carrying twins or more, can also raise concerns about travel safety.

Best time to Travel during Pregnancy

The optimal time for traveling during pregnancy is during the middle trimester, typically between weeks 14 and 28. Most common pregnancy-related discomforts and issues tend to occur during the first and third trimesters. During the middle trimester, women often experience a return of energy, relief from morning sickness, and greater ease in getting around.

Preparing for Your Trip

To ensure a comfortable and safe journey, follow these steps:

  • Schedule a Pre-Trip Checkup Arrange a thorough checkup with your gynecologist before embarking on your journey.
  • Know Your Due Date It’s essential to be aware of your estimated due date (You can use this “Due Date Calculator” for important pregnancy milestones). This information will be crucial if you encounter any complications during your trip.
  • Stay Current on Vaccines Ensure that your vaccinations are up to date, providing an extra layer of protection.
  • Bring Necessary Medications Pack any prescribed medications and consider including over-the-counter options such as pain relievers and prenatal vitamins.
  • Plan Your Route Research and determine the estimated duration of your journey. Opt for the most efficient and quickest route when possible.
  • Flexible Travel Plans Make sure your travel arrangements are adaptable. Unexpected changes may arise, so flexibility is key to ensuring a smooth trip.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Its Relevance for Pregnant Travelers

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a medical condition characterized by the formation of blood clots within the veins, typically in the legs or other regions of the body. This condition can pose a significant concern for pregnant individuals, as DVT has the potential to lead to a life-threatening situation if a clot dislodges and travels to the lungs. Prolonged periods of immobility, such as those experienced during extended travel, can heighten the risk of developing DVT. Additionally, the risk escalates during pregnancy.

To mitigate the risk of DVT during long journeys, especially while pregnant, consider the following precautions:

  • Opt for Loose-Fitting Attire: Wear clothing that allows for unrestricted blood flow.
  • Stay Hydrated: Ensure you are adequately hydrated by drinking ample fluids throughout your trip.
  • Regular Movement and Stretching: Take breaks at regular intervals to walk and perform stretching exercises. For example, when traveling by car, make it a habit to stop frequently, allowing you to step out and stretch your legs.

Flying while Pregnant? Here Are Some Tips

If you plan to travel by air during pregnancy, there are specific steps to keep in mind:

  • Know Your Due Date When booking your flight, be aware of your due date (You can use this “Due Date Calculator” for important pregnancy milestones). It is advisable to complete your flight before reaching 36 weeks of pregnancy. Be aware that some airlines may necessitate a medical certificate or impose restrictions on travel during the final month of pregnancy. For international flights, the cut-off point is often earlier, sometimes as early as 28 weeks. Always check your chosen airline’s policies when planning your journey.
  • Choose an Aisle Seat Opt for an aisle seat to facilitate easier movement. Plan to stand up and stretch your legs approximately every 2 hours during the flight.
  • Mind Your Diet Before your flight, avoid carbonated beverages and foods known to produce gas. In the lower air pressure of airplane cabins, gas can expand, potentially causing discomfort.
  • Safety First Remember to keep your seat belt fastened at all times during the flight.

Traveling by Car During Pregnancy

Traveling by car during pregnancy requires specific safety considerations. Here are some important tips:

  • Always Buckle Up: Ensure you wear your seat belt every time you travel by car. Position the belt below your belly, on your hip bones. The shoulder belt should be placed to the side of your belly and across the center of your chest, between your breasts.
  • Shorter Drives Are Better: Plan to keep each day’s drive as brief as possible. Frequent stops are essential to allow you to move around and stretch your legs, promoting circulation and comfort.

Traveling by Sea During Pregnancy

Traveling by sea during pregnancy can be a pleasant experience, but it’s essential to be aware of some unique considerations. The gentle rocking of the boat may either alleviate or exacerbate morning sickness or nausea, depending on the individual.

Here are some key factors to ensure a safe and comfortable sea voyage during pregnancy:

  • Healthcare Provider on Board: Contact the cruise line ahead of time to confirm the availability of a healthcare provider on board. This precaution can be invaluable in the event of any unexpected pregnancy complications.
  • Route and Medical Facilities: Prior to setting sail, thoroughly examine the cruise itinerary, including the planned ports of call. Identify whether there is easy access to medical facilities at each stop in case they are needed.
  • Seasickness Medications: If you anticipate seasickness, consult your healthcare provider to ensure that any medications you plan to take are approved for use during pregnancy and pose no risk to your developing baby.
  • Consider Seasickness Bands: Seasickness bands, which utilize acupressure points, can be a non-medication alternative to preventing an upset stomach. They may offer relief and peace of mind during your sea journey.

Travel Vaccinations During Pregnancy

When it comes to travel vaccinations during pregnancy, certain precautions should be observed, primarily related to live vaccines that contain live bacteria or viruses. These vaccines are generally not recommended during pregnancy due to concerns about potential harm to the developing baby in the womb.

However, there are exceptions. In some cases, live travel vaccines may be considered if the risk of infection at your destination outweighs the potential risks associated with live vaccination. To make an informed decision about travel vaccinations during pregnancy, seek advice from your GP or midwife, who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation. It’s important to note that non-live (inactivated) vaccines are safe for use during pregnancy.

Malaria Tablets

When it comes to malaria tablets, not all options are safe during pregnancy. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult your GP for advice on which anti-malaria tablets are suitable for pregnant travelers.

Zika Virus

The Zika virus is primarily transmitted by mosquitoes found in specific regions worldwide. While it generally causes mild symptoms for most people, it can pose significant risks during pregnancy.

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, it is strongly discouraged to travel to regions where the Zika virus is prevalent. These regions include parts of South and Central America, the Caribbean, the Pacific islands, Africa, and Asia.

Check Before Your Journey

Before embarking on your journey, it is essential to thoroughly research the risk factors and health recommendations for the specific country you plan to visit. Stay informed about any potential health hazards and consult with healthcare professionals to ensure a safe and healthy travel experience during pregnancy.

Traveling Abroad- International Precautions

Traveling to foreign countries can be an exciting adventure, but it comes with its own set of considerations, particularly during pregnancy. Take note of the following tips:

  • Check Your Health Insurance: Review your health insurance policy to determine if it covers international health care. If it does not, consider purchasing special health care insurance tailored for international travelers.
  • Be Cautious About Food and Water: Traveling to developing countries carries a risk of consuming contaminated food and water. Ingesting raw or undercooked food or drinking local water can lead to a short-term illness known as “traveler’s diarrhea.” While this may be a minor inconvenience for some, it poses a greater concern for pregnant women. Moreover, serious illnesses such as hepatitis A and listeriosis can be transmitted through contaminated food and water, potentially causing severe complications for both the pregnant woman and her baby.
  • Managing Diarrhea: If you experience diarrhea, prioritize staying well-hydrated to combat dehydration. Before using any diarrhea treatment, consult your gynecologist to ensure its safety. The most effective approach to illness prevention is to avoid consuming unsafe food and water altogether.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Care while Traveling

During your travels, it’s crucial to be vigilant about your health and seek immediate medical attention if you encounter any of the following situations:

  • Pelvic or Abdominal Pain or Contractions
  • Rupture of the Membranes (Your “Water Breaks”)
  • Vaginal Bleeding
  • Severe Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Signs and Symptoms of Preeclampsia: This includes persistent headaches, swelling of the hands or face, and changes in eyesight, such as seeing spots or other visual disturbances.
  • Signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): If you suspect symptoms related to DVT, it’s important to seek medical attention promptly.