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Traveling for two

What you need to know about when, how and where to go.

Pregnant and thinking of taking a trip? You'll want to take special care of your most important carry-on: your baby.

Here are some ideas from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

When to go. It's best to stay close to home. But sometimes your plans involve something like a rare family reunion. Or you may have to take a business trip. If you do need to travel, try to go during the second trimester, between 14 weeks and 28 weeks. That's when you will have more energy, will still able to move around easily, and likely won't have morning sickness, according to ACOG.

Also, your chance of having a miscarriage is higher early on. Most pregnancy emergencies happen during the first or third trimester.

If you are traveling after your second trimester, you and your baby may not have access to the best medical care if you go into early labor. And you'll be larger. That makes it harder to move around. And it makes you more prone to injury.

How to get there. ACOG and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that airplane travel is almost always safe during pregnancy. However, it may present a few problems:

  • The dry air in the plane can cause dehydration.
  • You may not go to the bathroom as often. This can be uncomfortable.
  • Sitting in a cramped space for a long time could lead to a blood clot in your legs.

If you do travel by plane, check with the airline first. Ask if it has special policies concerning pregnant women. Also, try to book an aisle seat in the front. And drink a lot of liquids.

When traveling in a car:

  • Try to travel in fair weather.
  • Be sure the vehicle is in good condition.
  • Always wear your safety belt. Fasten the lap belt low across your hips below your belly. And place the shoulder belt diagonally between your breasts and to the side of your belly.

Travel by ship may mean seasickness, and vessels may sometimes be a day or more away from medical facilities.

No matter how you travel, get up and move around every couple of hours. Do foot, ankle and calf exercises while you are sitting. The more you shake or move around, the more the blood is flowing.

Where to go. Don't travel to places where either Zika or malaria is active. Both diseases pose a serious risk to your pregnancy. Check the CDC travel website for the most up-to-date information before you make travel plans. 

Try to choose a destination with safe food and water and adequate medical care.

Get immunizations before you get pregnant. If you need them to travel while pregnant, check with your doctor first.

In general, vaccines such as hepatitis that use an inactivated virus are OK. Those such as rubella that use a live virus are not. 

What to bring. When packing, try to include:

  • Medications for diarrhea, headache and vomiting. Clear these with your doctor first.
  • Vitamins.
  • Enough of any prescription medication to last through your trip.

Bring basic first aid supplies too. Your immune system is not as strong when you are pregnant. So you are more likely to become ill.

Wear comfortable shoes. And choose loose clothing made of natural fabrics.

Also, try to eat regular, healthful meals. Take along light snacks such as:

  • Crackers.
  • Cheese.
  • Raw vegetables and fruit.
  • Water or juice.

Don't load yourself down with routine medical records unless you are going to be gone long enough to need regular prenatal care or a medical problem has occurred during your pregnancy. But do carry a list with:

  • Your blood type.
  • All of your medications.
  • Any allergies.
  • Your doctor's name, address and phone number.

Also, find out where the nearest hospital is and learn what type of medical care is available in the area. ACOG suggests contacting the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers at 716.754.4883.

Reviewed 8/9/2023

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