Pregnancy makes many aspects of life more difficult, including travel. Whether you are a first-time mom looking to sneak in one last trip before the baby arrives or a seasoned professional traveling for business, keeping these tips in mind will make travel during pregnancy much more bearable.
For the most part, you should be able to travel freely during the first and second trimesters. The second trimester is often the best time to travel, since that is when many women physically feel best. Most women can still travel during the third trimester, but if your pregnancy is high-risk, your doctor may advise you to stay at home. If your doctor gives you the OK to travel, though, there’s no need to worry about the baby.
Of course, you are never really alone during pregnancy, but it’s best to have at least one other adult with you at at all times. If you need to travel, go with a partner, family member or close friend. A support person will help keep your stress level down and be there to step in in the event of an emergency.
As moms know, staying well-fed and hydrated is essential during pregnancy. With all the hassles and stresses of travel, it’s easy to forget that you are still eating and drinking for two! Always carry a spare water bottle and a selection of whatever snacks you can keep down when you hit the road during pregnancy. Given that you’ll be eating and drinking often, make sure you also know where the nearest bathrooms are.
With all the swelling associated with pregnancy, comfort can be especially elusive during travel. Stay comfortable by wearing maternity support hose and comfortable shoes. If you plan on traveling by plane or train, make sure you get up and stretch at least every half hour; get an aisle seat if possible to make getting in and out easy. Consider paying for a seat with extra leg room, too.
As you almost certainly know by now, every pregnancy is unique. The only person who has enough knowledge of your specific circumstances to clear you for travel during pregnancy is your doctor. If you plan on spending any length of time on the road, especially during the third trimester, let your doctor know. If you have any particular travel-related concerns, give your doctor a call or ask at your next prenatal checkup.
Being pregnant means you’ll have to endure a seemingly endless succession of medical appointments. Most women will need at least a half-dozen routine tests at various points during pregnancy. There is usually some flexibility in scheduling those appointments, but if you need to travel for an extended period, your dates may be somewhat constrained. Make your travel plans as far in advance as you can and schedule your medical visits accordingly.
Your health insurance policy may or may not cover any complications that arise in transit or at your destination. Insurance issues are particularly common when traveling abroad, so be proactive about confirming that you will be covered. Be sure to speak directly with your insurer and write down the name of the representative who says that your trip will be covered!
If an emergency happens when you’re on the road, the doctor who cares for you will need immediate access to your pregnancy-related records. Bring along a copy of your prenatal chart, which should include your date of birth, last menstrual period, due date, disease risk factors, previous pregnancies , tests, ultrasounds, vital signs and medical history. Keep that information in your carry-on luggage. Remember, this is just in case; it’s highly unlikely that the information will actually be needed!
If you remember nothing else during pregnancy, don’t forget your prescription medications! Not having your prescription nausea medicine, for instance, could make your entire trip hellish. Conversely, don’t worry too much about over-the-counter medications; if you forget them, you can always buy more at your destination.
For many pregnant women, a cruise is the perfect getaway for a “babymoon.” Just make sure you book early on; most lines won’t let you go during your third trimester. Opt for a larger ship with on-board medical staff. The ship’s pharmacy probably won’t have your prenatal medicines, so bring plenty of your own. Finally, check to see whether medical care will be available at your destinations and whether your insurance company will cover any emergency procedures.
Some airlines have policies governing air travel during pregnancy. Those policies vary, of course, but many do not allow travel during the last month without a note from a doctor. Even airlines that do not have specific policies in place strongly encourage passengers to check with their doctors before flying, which is a great idea anyway! If you plan on traveling during the third trimester, find out whether your airline will allow you to fly and contact your doctor to get a note if necessary.
According to the TSA, the low-frequency X-rays used by some body scanner machines don’t pose a significant threat to pregnant passengers. You don’t have to take their word for it, though! If the idea of any exposure to X-rays makes you uncomfortable, just opt for a “pat down” search instead of passing through the body scanner. By the way, there’s no need to worry about regular metal detectors: The electromagnetic fields they use are no more dangerous than those emitted by ordinary household appliances.