Flying when pregnant and other travel issues

Flying when pregnant and other travel issues

There are several factors that can affect travel during your pregnancy:

  • Your pregnancy stage when the trip is planned
  • Whether there have been any complications during the pregnancy
  • The type of travel being considered; car, rail, plane
  • The distance that the travel will take you from home. 
  • Travel insurance – make sure you have coverage for your planned trip

Pregnancy Stage:  Travel implications

Travel during the first and second trimesters is usually considered to be safe, although it may be more tiring than usual.

Travelling during the first trimester of pregnancy may pose a few challenges, especially if you're experiencing pregnancy nausea or fatigue. And the risk of bleeding or miscarriage is the greatest during these months.

The second trimester is the time in your pregnancy when you probably feel the best and have the most energy.  This is a great time for a trip. In fact, holidaying, or taking a ‘babymoon’ with your partner during this period might be an ideal chance to spend some fun time alone together before the baby arrives!

Travel in the third trimester may be uncomfortable and carries a higher risk since you could go into labour many miles away from your own healthcare providers and hospital.

Some airlines do not let women fly during the last weeks of pregnancy without a doctor’s letter of permission.  It all depends on flight distance (domestic or international) and the airline you are flying with.   Quite often that letter must be written within 72 hours of flight time. 

Since it can be hard for the airline to tell how pregnant you are, it is a good idea to consult your healthcare provider about any upcoming travel.  Be sure to ask for a permission note and carry it with you to avoid any challenges at the airport, especially if travelling internationally.

Types of Travel

Travelling by car is likely to be the most comfortable means of getting around during pregnancy. When driving or riding in a car, stop every hour or two and walk around to stretch your legs – this will promote good circulation. Remember to always fasten your seat belt. Place the lap belt portion under your abdomen and position the shoulder harness between your breasts.

Flying shouldn't cause any problems in your first two trimesters, be sure to:

  • Plan your schedule so that you're not rushed and have plenty of time between connecting flights
  • Request an aisle seat so that you have a little more room and can easily get to the toilet as needed.
  • Walk up and down the aisle every hour or so to promote circulation in your legs.
  • While sitting, flex your feet towards your face and make circles with your feet.
  • Wearing support tights or flight socks also stimulates circulation in your legs when you have to sit for long periods of time.
  • Drink lots of water or juice to stay well hydrated.

Travel by boat, particularly if it's a large cruise ship, should also pose no particular problems in the first two trimesters. And most cruise ships have medical personnel aboard should you need assistance. If you're sensitive to motion, you might want to take medication to prevent motion sickness; ask your healthcare provider what would be safe to take during pregnancy. You can also wear the anti-nausea acupressure wristbands that are available over-the-counter at your chemist.

Travel Distance

If you plan to travel far from home, you can be prepared by being sure that there are good sources of medical care at your destination. Take your pregnancy records with you, including tests you've had done, medication you're taking, your blood type and any other information that might be helpful when you're out of town.

If you have to travel out of the country, it is important to take copies of your prescriptions for medication, in case they become lost. Be sure that your immunisations are up to date before planning a trip to countries where vaccinations are necessary and remember, some vaccines may not be safe to update during pregnancy.

Be aware that changes in climate or altitude and types of food could cause you more discomfort when you're pregnant. Limit exertion for a couple of days after your arrival at your destination, particularly if the climate is hot or the altitude is high; this will allow your body to adjust to these changes.

In addition to the above considerations, always consult your healthcare provider before planning a trip, particularly if you'll be experiencing changes in altitude. She may be able to give you a medical contact in the area of your destination, in case you need to see a physician while you're away from home.

With a little advance planning and some wise precautions, travel during your pregnancy can be safe and enjoyable. Bon voyage!

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