Tips for Traveling Moms-to-Be: Keeping You & Baby Healthy and Safe
Pregnancy is an exciting and busy time, filled with appointments and making much needed preparations and adjustments before the little one arrives. A babymoon is an excellent time for expecting parents to reconnect and relax before a new baby arrives.
If you’re considering a babymoon, you’ll need to talk with your doctor to make sure you are clear for travel. Once you’ve gotten the green light from your practitioner and you’ve taken a few precautions (especially while the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing), it’s possible to travel safely during pregnancy.
Below are some tips to keep moms-to-be and baby safe during travel.
Always Keep Your OB/GYN in the Loop
In most cases, pregnant women can travel safely until close to their due dates. But travel may not be recommended for women who have pregnancy complications. If you are planning a trip, talk with your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), together you can make a plan to help you minimize risk. And no matter how you choose to travel, think ahead about your comfort and safety. If you’re carrying multiples or are considered “high risk,” don’t be too disappointed if your doctor wants to keep you close to home.
The best time to travel is mid-pregnancy (14 to 28 weeks). During these weeks, your energy has returned, morning sickness is improved or gone, and you are still able to get around easily. After 28 weeks, it may be harder to move around or sit for a long time.
Travel is not recommended for women with certain complications, including:
- Prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM)
- Preterm labor
Look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel advisories. If you’re flying, check with the airline to be sure they’ll let you on the plane. Most physicians say it’s safe to fly up to 36 weeks, but airlines have varying restrictions, including different policies for domestic and international travel. Cruise lines have restrictions too, so do your research beforehand.
Minimize Travel Time and Plan Low Risk Activities
The shortest route is often the best route. Enduring a layover or a 10-hour car ride is no way to start a relaxing trip. Make sure you choose a location that won’t require too much effort. Plan to make frequent stops. Use these stops to move around and stretch your legs and use the restroom. Aim for relaxing activities that don’t require too much physical stress and are low risk for preterm labor.
Make Sure You’re Up to Date on Vaccinations
If you plan to travel overseas, check in with your doctor about any necessary vaccines recommended for the area you will be visiting. The CDC has health notices and travel recommendations by country on its Travelers’ Health website.
Check Out Medical Facilities
When researching locations, find out if they have access to quality medical facilities near the area (just in case). Write down the contact info for nearby hospitals to keep on hand as you travel, along with a number for contacting your OB/GYN. If you are travelling outside the country, be prepared to carry a copy of your health record with you. Take time to call your health insurance and ask if you are covered outside the United States. If not, you may be able to buy travel health insurance.
Wear Your Seatbelt Low
If you’re traveling by car, wear the seatbelt with the shoulder portion over the collarbone and the lap portion under the abdomen as low as possible on the hips. You’ll save yourself and your belly from hitting the dashboard in the event of a car accident. If traveling by plane, the belt should sit low on your hip bones, below your belly. Turbulence can happen without warning during air travel, so keep your seat belt on at all times.
Don’t Set Sail Without a Doctor
If you plan on taking to the seas, make sure a doctor or nurse is on board and that your scheduled stops are places with modern medical facilities in case you need medical attention. Many smaller ships (fewer than 100 passengers) don’t have medical personnel on staff.
Move your feet, toes, and legs often.
No matter how you’re traveling, try to get up and move around every hour or two to aid circulation, and try not to cross your legs—you’ll lessen the risk of blood clots. Keeping your feet elevated will also help by preventing swelling and leg cramps.
Know Signs of Pregnancy Emergency
Go to a hospital or call emergency medical services right away if you have any of the following:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pelvic or abdominal pain or contractions
- Rupture of the membranes (your “water breaks”)
- Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia (headache that will not go away, seeing spots or other changes in eyesight, swelling of the face or hands)
- Severe vomiting or diarrhea
- Signs of deep vein thrombosis
Additional tips are to wear comfortable shoes and clothing that is not too tight, and dress in light layers of clothing that can easily be added or removed. Make sure to eat regular meals to boost your energy and drink extra fluids. Remember to wash your hands often with soap and water, and pack hand sanitizer for those times when you won’t be near a sink.