Dos and Don'ts of Traveling While Pregnant
Learn the ins and outs of traveling safely when you're expecting a baby.
Whether by plane, train, automobile, or even boat, traveling while pregnant involves its own set of challenges and guidelines. But a little advance planning along with some common sense can make all the difference in the world -- anywhere in the world -- when it comes to pregnancy travel.
"It's wrong to say a categorical 'no' when it comes to traveling while pregnant," says Frank A. Chervenak, MD. Chervenak is a professor and chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology and the director of maternal-fetal medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University in New York City. "You need to individualize each and every situation," he says. For example, "I can imagine a scenario after eight months where travel is permitted."
The bottom line? "Discuss any travel with your doctor and see what he or she thinks," Chervenak says. "If your doctor is concerned, then you should be concerned and really weigh whether the travel is necessary."
"I always tell my patients no travel after 32 weeks, because if she delivers, she won't have me there," says Elizabeth Nye, MD, an obstetrician at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago. "She may have to deliver in a strange place with a doctor she has never met."
Pregnancy Travel: Better Safe Than Sorry
There is some general commonsense advice for all women who are traveling while pregnant no matter what transportation route you take or where your destination is:
- Consider buying trip insurance. "You never know what will happen during any pregnancy, and this way you are covered if you have to cancel your trip for any reason," Nye says.
- Schedule a checkup before your vacation so you can get a green light from your doctor.
- Travel with a copy of your prenatal records and copies of any relevant ultrasounds.
- Keep your prenatal vitamins and any other medications you need in your purse in case you get separated from bags.
- Program your obstetrician's number into your cell phone and make sure that your travel companion also has his or her number handy.
- Get a phone number of a local doctor just in case.
Pregnancy Travel: Up, Up, and Away?
"In general, air travel is OK during the entire pregnancy," says Kenneth Johnson, DO, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "But common sense dictates that women with complicated pregnancies involving twins, hypertensive disease, severe nausea, placenta previa, preterm labor, and other pregnancy-related complications should not fly." Most airlines do allow pregnant women to fly until about a month before their due dates.
Chervenak agrees: "As long as there are no known complications to pregnancy, traveling on an airplane is reasonable." But he says that "it's important for pregnant women to get up and walk around every hour during flight.