Mama on the Move: The Ultimate Guide to Safe Traveling During Pregnancy

Planning to travel while pregnant? Make sure you read this article first! Learn expert-recommended tips for traveling safely during pregnancy, and enjoy a relaxing trip with peace of mind.

“Do you travel during pregnancy?”, “Which weeks are safe for travel?”, “When to stop travelling while pregnant?”. These are some of the most common concerns we receive on theAsianparent app. Don’t worry, mums-to-be, here’s all you need to know about travelling when pregnant.

Is Travel Safe During Pregnancy? When to Stop Travelling While Pregnant?

Travelling when pregnant is usually safe. As long as you’re not over 36 weeks, which is usually the limit for airlines. 

However, travelling during pregnancy is not recommended if you have certain pregnancy complications like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, prelabour rupture of membranes, and the possibility of preterm labour.

Travelling also may not be a good idea if you have any vaginal bleeding or risk of miscarriage, or if you are pregnant with twins or multiples.

Curious about the dos and don’ts of travelling during pregnancy? Let’s discuss it more in detail.

Which month is safe to travel during pregnancy?

The ideal time to travel during pregnancy is the second trimester, between week 14 and week 28. This is because, by then, you are past the morning sickness of the first trimester and several weeks away from the third trimester of pregnancy, when you are more likely to be easily fatigued. The risk of miscarriage is also higher in the first 3 months, whether you’re travelling or not.

If you are planning to travel by air, check your airline’s policies when planning your trip. Most airlines allow pregnant women to travel through their eighth month. Airlines usually discourage travel after 36 weeks.

Travelling during the third trimester

Travelling during the third trimester of pregnancy can pose certain risks, and therefore, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before planning a trip.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women should avoid travelling after 36 weeks of gestation or 32 weeks for women carrying multiples or with a history of preterm labour.

Additionally, travelling during the third trimester can be uncomfortable for pregnant women due to physical changes and potential complications. ACOG recommends that pregnant women choose a destination that is easily accessible and has adequate medical facilities in case of an emergency.

Tips for Travelling During Pregnancy

When to stop travelling while pregnant

Here are a few general tips to make sure your trip is safe and comfortable:

  • Do your research on your travel destination. Avoid travel to areas with Zika and malaria outbreaks. Check that you are up-to-date with your vaccines. Updating vaccinations before going on a trip is important for pregnant women as it helps protect both the mother and the unborn baby from potential infections and diseases that may be encountered during the trip.
  • Schedule a checkup with your obstetrician-gynaecologist before you leave. It is best to have written approval from your doctor verifying your due date if you are considering international travel. It is especially important to get cleared for takeoff if you have a chronic medical problem such as problems with breathing.
  • Be wary of your diet while you are travelling, and always save your doctor’s number on speed dial in case of any questions while you’re away.
  • Carry any over-the-counter and prescribed medications that you may need, such as pain relievers, a first aid kit, and prenatal vitamins. Other essentials include sanitiser, sunscreen and mosquito repellant.
  • Always check if tap water is safe to drink. When in doubt, drink bottled water.
  • It is better to get travel insurance as so many things can go wrong during travel, from losing your baggage to falling sick. And getting medical attention in a foreign country can be super expensive.

Tips for Travelling by Road During Pregnancy

  • Remember to wear your seatbelt at all times.

How to wear a seatbelt when pregnant? Strap the lower belt across your lower lap or upper thighs (under the bump). Run the shoulder belt between your breasts and up over your shoulder, not over your abdomen.

  • It’s best to avoid long car journeys if you’re pregnant.

If you are driving, try not to drive more than 5 to 6 hours per day. If you need to travel for long, plan to make frequent stops so that you can move around and stretch your legs, to keep the blood circulating.

  • These exercises might help during road travel

To keep the blood flowing through your legs, you can do some exercises while you are seated (and not driving), such as flexing and rotating your feet and wiggling your toes.

If your car journey is going to be more than 4 hours long, it is good to wear compression stockings, as they help increase the blood flow in the legs and prevent blood clots.

  • Stay hydrated and snack regularly on long drives.

During long drives, remember to wear loose-fitting clothes. Drink plenty of water and snack on easy-to-carry energy foods like fruit and nuts.

Can I drive while pregnant?

pregnant woman driving

Image source: iStock

According to research, unless your doctor advises you not to, it is perfectly safe for you to drive while you’re pregnant, granted that you’re always wearing your seatbelt when you do so. However, Healthline reminds pregnant mums to stop driving when:

    • You have severe nausea
    • You can’t get into a safe position
    • You can’t make frequent stops
    • Your pregnancy limits your movements
    • You can’t pay extra close attention to the road
    • You’re in labour

Air Travel During Pregnancy

Air travel is generally safe during pregnancy. ACOG states that for healthy pregnant women, there is no evidence that flying will cause harm to the fetus.

However, they recommend that pregnant women avoid air travel after 36 weeks of gestation or 32 weeks for women carrying multiples or with a history of preterm labour. 

In addition, ACOG advises that pregnant women should be cautious when travelling to high-altitude areas, such as mountainous regions or ski resorts, due to the potential risk of altitude sickness. Pregnant women who choose to travel to high-altitude areas should talk to their healthcare provider about ways to reduce their risk of complications.

Here are some things to remember if you plan to travel by plane while pregnant:

  • Check your airline’s policies when planning your trip.

Generally, commercial air travel before week 36 of pregnancy is considered safe if you have a healthy pregnancy. However, guidelines for pregnant women might vary by carrier and destination.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the International Air Travel Association recommend that pregnant women in an uncomplicated pregnancy avoid travel from the 37th week of pregnancy through birth.

This is because the chance of going into labour is naturally higher after 37 weeks (and around 32 weeks if you’re carrying twins or multiples).

If you are past week 28 of your pregnancy, the airline may ask for a letter from your doctor confirming your due date, and that you aren’t at risk of complications.

When to stop travelling while pregnant

  • Avoid air travel in case of pregnancy or health complications.

If you are suffering from any of these conditions, get your doctor’s approval before travelling:

    • Severe anaemia
    • Cardiac disease
    • Respiratory disease
    • Recent haemorrhage
    • Current or recent bone fractures

Also, chances of premature labour may be higher after 32 weeks, for women who are carrying twins or triplets. So avoid air travel during that period.

  • Avoid frequent flying.

If you’re a frequent flyer, such as a business traveller, pilot, or flight attendant, you might be exposed to a level of cosmic radiation that is considered unsafe during pregnancy. So, if you must fly frequently during your pregnancy, discuss it with your doctor first.

  • Wear your seatbelt at all times.

This can help keep you from getting hurt in case of turbulence. Fasten the belt under the abdomen (under the bump).

  • Pick your seat wisely.

Choose a seat towards the front of the plane, where it is likely to be less bumpy. Also, book an aisle seat so you don’t have to climb over other passengers when you need to get up to use the restroom.

  • Promote blood circulation.

Long-distance travel (longer than 4 hours) carries a small risk of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis (DVT)). Sitting for long periods during any kind of travel raises your chances of having DVT.

So, wear loose, comfortable clothing. Flex your ankles periodically during the flight, and take occasional walks up and down the aisle when it’s safe to leave your seat.

Wearing compression or support stockings may help prevent DVT and reduce leg swelling. But if you have diabetes or problems with blood circulation, you are advised not to wear them.

  • Drink plenty of water.

Keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking lots of water. Avoid gassy food and drinks such as soda.

Tips for Travelling at Sea During Pregnancy

  • Check the policy of the ferry/cruise company for pregnant women.

Ferry companies may refuse to carry heavily pregnant women (32 weeks and above). Check the ferry company’s policy before you book.

  • Research on facilities beforehand.

Make sure that your cruise is well-equipped to handle medical emergencies or pregnancy complications. Also, make sure that your scheduled stops are places with modern medical facilities.

  • Ask your doctor for medication to take in case of seasickness.

  • Guard yourself against infections

A concern for those travelling on cruise ships is norovirus infection, which can cause severe nausea and vomiting. Wash your hands often and wash any fruits and vegetables you eat during the cruise to avoid getting infected.

Using Public Transportation When Pregnant

Mama on the Move: The Ultimate Guide to Safe Traveling During Pregnancy

Image Source: iStock

Commuting can be extra challenging for expecting mums. Aside from nausea that you feel when riding a bus or a train, you still have to deal with the difficulty of ensuring a seat and being exposed to different people who might be carrying infections or diseases.

Here are some tips to make riding public transport while pregnant more manageable:

  • When commuting, only carry the essentials, but make sure this includes a bottle of water!
  • Wear layers that are easy to remove, especially when the weather is hot.
  • You can never be too prepared, so bring an umbrella with you every time you head out. Also, don’t forget to wear your face mask.
  • Try travelling at off-peak hours to avoid the influx of commuters.
  • There are designated seats for pregnant women on the train or bus. It is your privilege, so don’t be coy about using it. If those seats are taken, don’t be shy about asking for a seat.

Medical Care When Travelling During Pregnancy

It is important for pregnant women to consider the availability of medical care at their travel destination, especially if they are travelling to a remote or unfamiliar location. In case of an emergency, having access to medical facilities and healthcare providers can be crucial for the well-being of the mother and the unborn baby.

Pregnant women should do their research in advance and identify hospitals, clinics, and medical professionals who can provide prenatal care and emergency services at their destination.

It is also advisable to bring a copy of their medical records and any relevant documentation, such as proof of pregnancy and insurance information, in case they need to seek medical attention while travelling.

When Should You Seek Medical Care During Travel?

Seek medical help if you have any of these signs and symptoms while travelling:

Overall, being prepared and informed can help pregnant women make informed decisions about their travel plans. It is important to always follow your doctor’s advice before making any travel arrangements, to ensure the safety and well-being of both you and your baby during the trip.

pregnant woman travelling

Image source: Stock

Updates by Camille Eusebio

Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.

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