If you're pregnant, you don’t have to become hermit. You can travel for work, a family even or—most fun of all–a vacation before the baby arrives.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that the safest time to travel is during the second trimester. During these three months, you are less likely to have pregnancy emergencies or complications, such as a spontaneous abortion or premature labor, plus you probably no longer have those annoying first trimester symptoms like morning sickness. In your third trimester, it may be harder for you to move around or sit comfortably for a long time.
No matter where or when you’re traveling, here are some things to consider.
Get your doctor’s approval first. Before you go, it's essential that a health care provider rules out an ectopic pregnancy, which is when the fertilized egg does not make it to the uterus and develops somewhere outside of it. Symptoms of this condition include abnormal vaginal bleeding, lower back pain, mild cramping on one side of the pelvis and pain in the lower belly or pelvic area.
If you’re flying, call the airline ahead of time. Finally, if you're traveling by plane, call the airline ahead of time to make sure they will allow you to fly. Believe it or not, different airlines have different regulations on this, although most let moms-to-be fly through their eighth month of pregnancy.
Don’t sit for too long. If you're taking a long car trip, ACOG recommends limiting driving to no more than six hours each day and stopping frequently to move around and stretch your legs. Similarly, if you're traveling by plane, bus or train, try to get up and move frequently to help avoid swelling or blood clots. Try to get an aisle or bulkhead seat so you can stretch your legs.
Have an emergency action plan. If you get the go-ahead from your doctor to travel, the next step is to make sure you're prepared for an emergency. Check to see if your health insurance plan covers pregnancy services where you are going and ensure that there are medical facilities at your destination. If you know in advance that you will need prenatal care, try to locate a health care provider before leaving. Also, you should not travel alone. This way, if anything unexpected arises, you'll have someone to help you get what you need.
If you're planning a cruise or any type of boat travel, ask your health care provider which medications are safe for calming seasickness. If you are concerned about contracting a norovirus infection on board ship, check with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) before you book to make sure the ship has passed a health and safety inspection. Then be sure to wash hands frequently while on the ship.
If you will be traveling out of the country, the CDC website can provide travel alerts, safety tips and vaccination information. ACOG recommends pregnant women not travel to areas where there is a risk of malaria, including Africa, Central and South America and Asia.
In any area where you have concerns about sanitation, boil drinking water for at least one minute (three minutes at high altitudes). Bottled water is usually safe, but there are no standards for bottled water, so no guarantees that it is germ free. Contaminated water can also reach you through ice, tooth brushing, fresh produce and dishwashing, so use caution. Whether at home or traveling, remember not to eat raw or undercooked meat or fish.
Understand warning signs. There are a few telltale signs that something is wrong. The may include vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain or cramping, swelling, headaches, contractions, vision changes and any abnormal fetal movements or the lack thereof. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact a health care provider immediately.