Pregnancy is a beautiful time in a couple’s life that they look forward to together. Bringing a new human into the world, especially in the first pregnancy, is exciting but comes with extra care and responsibility. When women receive the news, they are more cautious to ensure their and the baby’s health. Like everything else, traveling also feels different when you are pregnant. For starters, it can aggravate nausea, and you may feel tired due to long flying hours. Moreover, traveling during pregnancy can sometimes also lead to complications. However, that does not mean you have to abandon traveling during this period.
Quick Answer: Doctors suggest that the second trimester (months 4 to 6) is the most suitable time for travel during pregnancy.
Let’s dive into further details regarding traveling in each trimester.
Traveling Advice During Pregnancy
The first trimester, months one to three, is the most crucial time of pregnancy. The news of being pregnant brings in a lot of emotions, including anxiety. And as your body changes, it also affects your physical health. Most women feel nauseous and tired during the first three months of pregnancy. And that is why it is not the most preferred time to travel.
Studies show that the risk of miscarriage is also higher in the first three months. One in eight miscarriages happens in the first trimester. While air travel does not directly increase the chance of a miscarriage, the associated anxiety and tiredness may harm the baby.
Besides air travel, traveling by road can also be quite tiresome as your body adjusts to the physical changes. You might not be able to travel for long periods as most expecting mothers also experience morning sickness during this period.
The second trimester, from four to six months, is the best time to travel for pregnant women. With the passage of the first trimester, the risks of miscarriage reduce, and the nausea is also better. Thus, you can travel more comfortably without worrying about your health. However, you must consult your doctor before planning as they might suggest you the best according to your condition.
The third trimester is a roller coaster of emotions, and many women experience higher mood swings during the last trimester. Besides the hormonal changes, your body is also experiencing further physical changes. Thus, healthcare experts do not allow you to travel post-34 to 36 weeks of gestation.
The third trimester carries a higher risk of premature birth, especially towards the 8th and 9th months. As the airline staff is not trained to respond to such emergencies, thus airlines do not encourage traveling in the later months. However, the traveling conditions may depend on your doctor’s recommendation. If you do not have a pregnancy complication history, you might be allowed to travel by your doctor.
Health Risks Associated with Traveling in Pregnancy
Besides the risk of a miscarriage in the initial months and chances of early labor in the last trimester, traveling for a long period can lead to other health complications. Some of the health risks include:
One of the major issues with flying by air during pregnancy is the formation of blood clots in the vein due to not moving for a long time. Deep vein thrombosis is associated with traveling in pregnancy as you do not move for long hours and stay seated in one place.
Your doctor may also recommend aspirin to avoid blood clots when traveling during pregnancy. Experts suggest giving anticoagulants to women at a higher risk of thrombosis during air travel, especially if you previously had a thrombosis.
Keeping yourself hydrated can help you prevent the risk of thrombosis. Healthcare experts also suggest using compression stockings and moving your calf muscles after some time to ensure blood circulation.
Swollen feet are a common pregnancy symptom, especially in the later months. Sitting for a long time in the plane can increase swelling. Compression stockings can save you from worsening the swelling as well. Pregnant women are also suggested not to take off their shoes on their flight if they have swollen feet, as they might be unable to wear them back.
Indigestion and nausea are common in pregnancy, and pressure changes during the flight can aggravate the situation. The drop in the cabin pressure causes gas in the abdomen, making you uncomfortable. That is why avoiding gassy foods or drinks before the flight is better.
While radiation is not one of the major concerns if you only have to travel once or twice during pregnancy, it is crucial when you travel frequently. Talking to your attending doctor is advisable as frequent flying may expose you to more radiation.
Besides staying hydrated, ensuring movement, and avoiding gassy foods, it is important to get all the essential vaccinations to prevent disease transmission.
If you are going to a country with a high number of malaria cases, make sure to take anti-malarial tablets. Catching malaria during pregnancy can cause early miscarriage, premature labor, or stillbirth. You must consult your healthcare provider as some antimalarial medicines are not advised during pregnancy.
Zika Virus is another pathogen that transmits through mosquitoes and is more widely present in some parts of the world like the Pacific islands, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Asia, and Africa. Thus, doctors do not encourage pregnant women to travel to these parts of the world to avoid transmission.
Most ladies experience severe colds and flu during their pregnancy journey which is horrible. The CDC suggests pregnant women get the flu shot, particularly during the flu season. The Flu vaccine is absolutely safe during pregnancy and is one of the best ways to protect the mother and the baby from the flu, even a few months after birth.
The Tdap vaccine is given to pregnant women, usually between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation, to protect the mother and the baby from whooping cough. It decreases your chances of obtaining adult whooping cough and helps your body fight it if you get it during pregnancy.
Road Travel During Pregnancy
Traveling by road can be inconvenient if you do not have a comfortable car. But it also allows you to take breaks and step out when tired of sitting in one posture for a long time. Pregnant women are suggested not to travel long as it can be tiring and cause fatigue.
You may also move around in the car, change your posture, and massage your feet to ensure blood flow to the limbs. Healthcare providers suggest wearing compression stockings as you would do in an airplane. Taking high-energy foods and staying hydrated are the key ingredients to a comfortable journey.
Also, wear a seatbelt when traveling by road, as road accidents are quite common. Adjust the seat belt to your comfort if it feels uncomfortable over the bump. Recline your seat when you are in the passenger seat to avoid the impact of airbags in case of a collision. At the same time, maintain a distance between the steering and yourself when driving to avoid harm to the bump.
When Should You Not Travel?
As instructed, women should avoid traveling in the early or late stages of pregnancy, especially if not advised by the doctor. However, you must also consider other health aspects if you previously had complicated pregnancies. Some of the complications that may restrict you to travel include:
- Gestational diabetes (this or previous pregnancies)
- High blood pressure (this or previous pregnancies)
- Pre-eclampsia (this or previous pregnancies)
- Multiple pregnancies
- Vaginal bleeding
- Cervical issues
- Previous miscarriage, premature labor, or ectopic pregnancy
- First pregnancy post 35
The Bottom Line
Pregnancy is a beautiful time of anyone’s life, and you can make it even better by ensuring safety precautions before deciding to travel. If you want to travel during pregnancy, it is suggested to consult your doctor before booking your tickets. Most airlines will not allow you to travel after when near 36 weeks of gestation due to a higher risk of early labor. Thus, healthcare experts suggest that the second semester is the best time to travel during pregnancy. The expecting mothers are less anxious and are not at a high risk of preterm labor. Though, consult your doctor and get the necessary vaccinations before you board the plane.
Should I have a check-up before a trip?
Making an appointment with your ob-gyn and getting a check-up before leaving for a flight is recommended. It will allow your healthcare professional to reconfirm your due date, suggest vaccinations, and inform you of complications, if any.
What symptoms should I watch for while traveling?
When planning to travel during pregnancy, it is better to look for symptoms that may signify complications. Some symptoms you must look for include pre-eclampsia, thrombosis, vomiting, diarrhea, vaginal bleeding, pelvic or abdominal pain, contractions, or membrane rupture.
Are plane cabins safe for pregnant women?
Yes, plane cabins are safe for pregnant women, but frequent air traveling may increase the risk of radiation exposure. However, if you have to fly only once or twice, you are good to go when allowed by your ob-gyn.
How should I prepare for international travel?
Traveling by air can be tiresome and may worsen nausea in pregnant women. Talk to your ob-gyn about your plan, and ask for required vaccinations and other relevant medical advice. Also, stay hydrated and keep healthy food options with you to avoid bloating.
Can I travel while 4 months pregnant?
Usually, traveling at four months of pregnancy is fine, but you must check with your doctor before flying. They might not encourage you to travel if you have multiple pregnancies or it is your first baby at 35 or older.
Do bumpy roads affect early pregnancy?
Bumpy roads do not harm the baby if you drive carefully. However, fast driving can cause minor injuries to the fetal brain, increase uterine activity, or lead to abdominal pain on bumpy roads.
Born in Belarus, 1985, a pedagogue and family psychologist, mother. Taking part in procedures of social adaptation of the foster children in new families. Since 2015 is a chief editor of the motherhow.com project, selecting the best and up-to-date material for those, who are planning, expecting, and already having babies.