Pregnancy and travel
Most of the time, it is fine to travel while pregnant. As long as you are comfortable and safe, you should be able to travel. Still, talk to your doctor if you are planning a trip.
When you travel, you should:
- Eat as your normally do.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing that aren’t tight.
- Take crackers and juice with you to avoid nausea.
- Get up and walk every hour. It will help your circulation and keep swelling down.
Do NOT take over-the-counter medicines or any non-prescribed medications without talking to your doctor. This includes medication for motion sickness or bowel problems.
Travel by Land
You should be on the road no more than 5 - 6 hours a day.
- Always wear your seatbelt. Place the lap belt under your belly and across your hips so that it fits snugly and comfortably. Put the shoulder strap between your breasts and across your shoulder.
- Always wear the lap shoulder seat belt strap when traveling while pregnant.
- If you have an accident, check with your doctor to see if you and your baby are fine. Unless the mother has a serious injury in an accident, the baby will likely not be harmed. Still, check with your doctor to be on the safe side.
- While on the road, take breaks often and walk around. This will help your circulation and can prevent blood clots.
Travel by Air
In the United States, pregnant women are allowed to fly during the first 36 weeks of their pregnancy.
- Book an aisle seat to make it easier to walk around and get to the bathroom.
- Wear layers of clothing so you can change as needed for comfort.
- Get up and walk at least once an hour. This will help your circulation and can prevent blood clots.
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Women with health problems may need extra oxygen when flying. Talk to your health care provider before you travel to see if you will need extra oxygen.
Travel by Sea
If you have never been on a cruise, it may not be the best time to go.
- Travel by sea may cause motion sickness or nausea. It may feel worse than normal if you are pregnant.
- If you do decide to go on a cruise, find out what kind of medical care will be on the ship. Also check on how the cruise ship responds to medical emergencies.
Talk to your doctor if you are planning a trip out of the country. Plan ahead to allow time for any shots or medications you may need. When you travel, take a copy of your prenatal care record with you.
Traveling to high altitudes, like the mountains, may cause problems during pregnancy. Higher altitudes have lower air pressures and less oxygen. Your body and the baby will have to adjust.
It’s best to let your body adjust to moderate altitudes (6,000 - 8,000 feet) for a few days. Once you adjust, it is safer to go to altitudes above 8,000 feet.
Women with complicated pregnancies may want to avoid all travel to high altitudes.
- Last reviewed on 8/23/2012
- Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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