Air Travel and Vacations during Pregnancy
Most women can safely travel during pregnancy. With a little extra planning and precaution you should not encounter any problems. Just make sure your caregiver is aware of your travel plans beforehand.
Tips for Safe Vacationing When You Are Pregnant
- The most common obstetrical emergencies happen in the first and third trimesters. The second trimester is the best time to travel.
- Enjoy yourself, but be careful when doing new types of physical activities. Pregnancy changes a woman’s balance and her coordination is not as good. Walking and low-risk physical activities are usually fine to participate in and enjoy.
- Always keep yourself well hydrated during the day, because increased activities can cause dehydration. Dehydration can cause your uterus to contract and may mean a trip to a hospital far from home.
- Avoid tap water and ice cubes in foreign countries. You should only drink bottled water.
- Do not go into the ocean, as this can increase your risk for both vaginal and womb infection which could result in a premature delivery.
- Always locate a hospital that you can go to when on vacation.
- If possible, you should not travel alone.
Tips for Air Travel during Pregnancy
- Air travel is safe for most women up to 34 weeks of pregnancy.
- Each airline has specific rules as it relates to air travel during pregnancy, so check with the carrier beforehand. Some airlines require a letter from your doctor stating how many weeks pregnant you are at the time of your trip.
- Second or third trimester vaginal bleeding, premature labor, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, type 1 or type 2 diabetes, sickle cell anemia (or trait), and multiple gestation are some reasons that air flight might not be permitted.
- If you get nauseous when flying, anti-nausea medications are suggested. They are safe to take during pregnancy.
- Drink plenty of fluids before you leave, and drink more fluids during the flight. Do not drink lots of carbonated beverages, as this can increase the chance of nausea.
- Wear thigh-high support stockings. This will reduce the risk of fluid accumulation in your legs and feet, and reduce the risk of blood clots forming in the legs.
- Get up and walk around the cabin once every hour.
- Always use your seat belt below your belly when seated.
I have to travel 3 hours by air and am almost 37 weeks along, is there a problem if I tell the airline at the gate that I am a couple of weeks earlier?
Should something happen and you ruptured your water bag or went into labor, the jet might have to divert its trip, landing somewhere else to take you to the hospital. If this should occur and the air carrier found out that you lied about your gestational age, you would be charged the cost of getting you to your emergency care. That will run you between $35,000 and $70,000. I know two couples who had to pay for such an ordeal of diverting the airliner, so I suggest you only fly by the rules!
What is the best advice you can give me no matter if my trip is by car, train, boat, or air?
- Relax and enjoy yourself.
- Drink lots of bottled water.
- Do not do any physical activities that could be dangerous.
- Remember to bring along all the medications you are taking.
- Bring a copy of your medical records in case you require any care.
- Locate a medical center that cares for pregnant women near where you are staying.
- Check with your health insurance company to make sure you are covered if you should need care at your destination.
- Use appropriate medication for nausea if necessary.
- Always buckle your seat belt below your belly.
- Walk around for a few minutes every couple of hours when traveling (every hour if by air).
- Wear flat, comfortable shoes.
- Get plenty of rest.
Dr. Charles Hux attended Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology and a fellowship in maternal-fetal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. He received a master’s degree in genetics from Rutgers University. He maintains a private practice and is primarily affiliated with Monmouth Medical Center. His articles have appeared in American Journal of Obstetrics/Gynecology, Prenatal Diagnosis, New England Journal of Medicine and Genetics. He is the author of the new book, Nine Healthy Months.
For the last eight years, he has been the current resident “multiples doctor” on The Learning Channel’s A Baby Story.