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Dos and Don'ts of Traveling While Pregnant

Learn the ins and outs of traveling safely when you're expecting a baby.
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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.

"This is really a good idea for every flier, but in pregnancy it can be even more important to keep your circulation flowing," Chervenak says. Here's why: Pregnancy can cause circulation problems, and flying increases the chance of developing a potentially fatal blood clot. Moving around keeps the blood moving, which helps to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Some people who are prone to blood clots may need special stockings that improve circulation and make it less likely for blood clots to develop, he says.

Choose an aisle seat so you can get up and down without climbing over your neighbor, adds Nye. This will also help you get to the bathroom in a hurry. "We know that pregnant women have to use the bathroom a lot," she says. (This same advice holds if you are taking a bus trip.)

If you are expecting, don't worry about walking through the metal detector at the airport security check, she says. "There is not a lot of radiation coming from these detectors, but if you are at all concerned, request a pat-down instead."

Heavy lifting may cause problems during pregnancy, so schlepping bags from gate to gate is not advisable for women who are traveling while pregnant. "Use porters or suitcases with wheels to try to make pregnancy travel as physically easy as possible," Nye says.

Johnson adds that it's important to drink nonalcoholic, noncaffeinated beverages before, during, and after air travel while pregnant. "Women who do fly should drink extra fluids because air travel tends to be dehydrating," he says. "Extra fluids will also help eliminate Braxton-Hicks 'false labor' pains."

Many airlines no longer supply meals, so it's important for pregnant women to pack their own healthy snacks. "Eat frequent small meals to avoid hypoglycemia and nausea," Johnson says. Importantly, "If you begin to have regular painful contractions, inform the crew early."

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