Travelling During Pregnancy

Pregnant woman travelling

Pregnancy can be a tiring time and to engage in travel during this time may even be overwhelming to many. Some people would say that the best thing to do while pregnant is to stay at home and not move around too much. But life is unpredictable, and you may be forced into a situation where you have to travel, such as permanently shifting to another city. During this time, you may naturally be facing the dilemma of whether it is safe to do so. Most pregnant women are worried about the safety of the baby, especially during long-distance travel. The best way to put your mind at rest is to consult your doctor before the travel and take all the precautions required. The important thing is to understand that you need to keep your developing baby safe and prevent any unnecessary complications through the course of your pregnancy. However, if you cannot put off travel due to an emergency or work, you can always discuss the options with your doctor and ensure that it is as safe as it could be.

Is Travelling Safe During Pregnancy?

It is safe to travel throughout most of your pregnancy unless you have pregnancy complications that need special attention. The best time to travel is in the second trimester when you are past your morning sickness. Travelling during the third trimester is possible, but you could be prone to fatigue and discomfort. Due to the risk of labour, air and boat travel after the 36th week is not recommended.

Travelling in the First Trimester

Travelling during early pregnancy, although possible, is generally not advised due to the various risks it carries. The first trimester is when you experience most of the pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness, nausea, vomiting, etc., and these are more pronounced during this time. Also, you may be at a higher risk of miscarriage during the first trimester. Hence, long-distance travel by road and air travel is not recommended. Since your baby is in its developmental stage, any risk during travel could affect the proper development of the baby. However, you may consult your doctor to evaluate your pregnancy, and your doctor may permit travel if your pregnancy is stable.

Travelling in the Second Trimester

If you have to travel, the second trimester is your best bet. This is when your risks of miscarriage are considerably lower. You will notice that your pregnancy symptoms like nausea and morning sickness have reduced, which can make it much more comfortable to travel. However, if you have any serious complications, travelling may still not be advised. It is best to consult with your doctor and discuss your travel plans ahead of time, even during the second trimester.

Travelling in the Third Trimester

While travelling in the third trimester is not problematic, at this stage of your pregnancy, you are likely to experience fatigue due to the increased weight of the growing baby. This can increase discomfort and make travel stressful for you. Also, if you have conditions like oligohydramnios or polyhydramnios, it is recommended that you do not travel to prevent complications. If you have to travel, you will also need to check with the airlines before you book the ticket. Most airlines do not permit women past 36 weeks to travel due to the possibility of labour.

Road Travel During Pregnancy

Travelling by road during pregnancy can be convenient, especially for short distances. Driving in a car allows you to make as many stops as you require in order to stretch and walk. You can also avoid the high altitude sickness that may occur in air travel.

Pregnant woman driving

Things to Remember

If you wish to travel by road, you may need to keep in mind the following things before you hit the road.

1. Before travelling

  • Keep your medical and prenatal records in the car.
  • Carry a mobile phone for emergencies.
  • Keep some home-made snacks in the car to avoid eating from random places.
  • Keep enough bottled water in the car to stay hydrated.

 2. During travel

  • Keep your seatbelt latched at all times below your belly.
  • If you’re in the passenger seat, push your seat back completely to give you enough room to stretch.
  • If you’re driving, push the seat back as much as possible for a comfortable seating position.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water on the road.
  • Eat healthy snacks to avoid nausea.
  • Keep a cushion or a small pillow between the seat and your back to avoid back pain.
  • Stop as often as possible to stretch and walk to keep your blood circulating.

3. What to avoid

  • Try to avoid long road trips.
  • Avoid eating street food.
  • Avoid wearing restrictive or tight clothing.
  • Avoid taking routes that have bumpy roads.

 4. When you disembark

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Rehydrate and eat.
  • Do not go on another long journey without getting ample rest.

Air Travel During Pregnancy

Air travel can be a safe option for many pregnant women as there are no sudden movements involved. It is especially convenient for long distance travels. However, the lack of space may feel a little cramped especially when you need to stretch.

Pregnant woman in flight

Things to Remember

With proper precautions, air travel can be made as hassle-free as possible to avoid any discomfort to you.

1. Before travelling

  • Pack light and carry all your medications.
  • Wear comfortable and loose clothing.
  • Wear roomy shoes to prevent any discomfort due to possible swelling.
  • Request for an aisle seat near the exit to get more leg space.
  • Request to be searched by a wand or manually instead of the scanning machine.

 2. During travel

  • Always keep your seatbelt on.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep yourself hydrated.
  • Stretch your ankles and legs regularly, especially on long flights, in order to avoid swelling or blood clots due to high cabin pressure.
  • Try to take a walk often to keep your blood circulating.
  • Seek help from the stewards if you feel any discomfort.

3. What to avoid

  • Avoid smaller private planes and travel on major airlines with pressurized cabins.
  • If you do ride in smaller planes, avoid altitudes above 7000 feet.
  • Avoid travelling by air after 36 weeks of pregnancy to avoid preterm labour.

4. When you disembark

  • Try and stretch your legs and ankles to loosen your muscles.
  • If you feel any discomfort on landing, contact your doctor for advice.
  • Take rest and get plenty of sleep.

Sea Travel During Pregnancy

Unless you suffer from seasickness or have other pregnancy complications, sea travel during pregnancy should be safe for you.

Things to Remember

1. Before travelling

  • Pack your medications and ensure that they last you throughout the voyage.
  • Carry your medical and prenatal records.
  • Get a diet chart from your doctor with the things you can and cannot eat.
  • Keep track of the safety measures on the cruise.
  • Check the schedule and know how much time you have at each port.
  • Verify with the relevant offices to ensure that the ship has cleared all the inspections.

2. During travel

  • Eat healthy and nutritious food.
  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
  • Utilize the walking space and take regular walks.

3. What to avoid

  • Avoid spending a lot of time on the deck to prevent sunburn and overheating.
  • Keep track of the seafood and fish that you eat. Some of them contain mercury which can hamper brain development in the foetus. Check with your doctor beforehand about what you can and cannot consume.
  • Don’t walk on slippery surfaces to prevent falls.
  • Avoid eating local food at the ports.
  • Avoid common pool areas to prevent infections. Instead, opt for a private pool or Jacuzzi.
  • Avoid water and adventure sports.

 4. When you disembark

  •  If you feel any discomfort that you are unable to handle, it is best to disembark.

Train Travel During Pregnancy

Travelling by train can be more convenient and does not trigger nausea. You also get more leg room and enough space to walk around and stretch throughout the journey.

Pregnant woman holding suitcase

Things to remember

1. Before travelling

  • Book a direct train ticket with least number of stops.
  • Carry a pillow to support your back.
  • Reserve a lower birth for convenience.
  • Get a porter to carry your luggage onto the train.
  • Request for a seat near the washroom.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

2. During travelling

  • Rest your legs and put up your feet as often as you can.
  • Take walks regularly inside the train with proper support.

3. What to avoid

  • Avoid buying food from vendors. Carry homemade food instead.
  • Try to avoid moving between coaches or using the washroom when the train is moving.
  • Avoid travelling alone and travel with at least one person to support you.
  • Do not board the train when it is moving.

4. When you disembark

  • Be careful of slippery steps while getting off the train.
  • Wait until the other passengers have disembarked to avoid a rush.
  • Hire a porter to carry your luggage.

When Should Pregnant Women Avoid Travelling?

Travelling during pregnancy should be avoided in the following cases:

  • History of miscarriage or preterm birth: If you or anybody in your family have had prior miscarriages or preterm labour, it is best to avoid travel.
  • Multiple pregnancies: If you are pregnant with twins or more, your doctor may advise against travel. This is because multiple pregnancies make you more prone to preterm labour.
  • Preeclampsia or high blood pressure: Women with preeclampsia may face certain complications during pregnancy. Travel can tire you out and give rise to more complications.
  • Placental abnormalities: Conditions like placenta previa and placental abruption can pose a significant risk to both your and the baby. Bleeding may also be common if you suffer from these conditions. Travelling in this condition is not advised as it can increase the risk of complications to you and your baby.
  • Gestational diabetes: Women with gestational diabetes require adequate rest and care as severe cases may lead to birth complications. Hence, travel should be avoided if you have gestational diabetes.
  • Incompetent cervix: A weak cervix increases your risk of preterm labour, and heavy movement may trigger a break of the membrane causing labour. Plenty of bed rest is recommended in order to rule out these complications.
  • Heavy bleeding during pregnancy: Some bleeding during pregnancy is common. However, if you have experienced heavy bleeding, it is wise to opt out of travel to avoid any complications and discomfort.
  • Ectopic pregnancy: Ectopic pregnancy is a serious risk to the mother. If you an ectopic pregnancy, especially along with preeclampsia, it is best to avoid travel to reduce complications.

Safety Tips for Travelling During Pregnancy

  • Stretch your muscles: It is important that you keep blood circulating during travel through regular exercise. Take breaks, walk and stretch your legs as often as you can. This will prevent the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which can lead to potentially dangerous blood clots.
  • Pack a travel kit: Carry a travel kit with compression socks, prenatal vitamins, haemorrhoid cream, medical documents and your doctor’s contact details, healthy snacks, hand sanitizer, medication (pregnancy appropriate).
  • Hydrate: Remember to stay hydrated throughout the travel. Avoid drinks with caffeine.
  • Consult your doctor: Discuss your travel plans with your doctor, including where you will be travelling. Your doctor will be able to provide all advice and suggest the medical precautions required. You will also need to go for routine check-ups to ensure that you are in optimal health for travel.
  • Take care of what you eat: Drink only bottled water and pasteurized milk and ensure that your food is cooked properly.
  • Get travel insurance: Make sure that your travel insurance covers your pregnancy and medical bills if you go into labour.
  • Check with the airline: If you are travelling by air, ensure that the airline permits travel, as most airlines do not permit pregnant women beyond 36 weeks to travel. Once you do book a ticket, request for an aisle seat in order to get more leg space and for the convenience of movement.
  • Stay comfortable: Dress in comfortable clothes, protect yourself from the sun and ensure that you listen to the cues of your body. If you feel any discomfort, get plenty of rest.
  • Do not rush: Be patient when you board off. Allow the other passenger to move ahead to prevent any pushing.
  • Exercise hygiene: Ensure proper hygiene when using the washrooms and toilets. If you have the choice, use a squat toilet instead of a western toilet. If you are travelling with a spouse or a friend, as them to wait for you outside the washroom for safety.

Pregnancy travel is possible with the right precautions and care. It is also advisable that you consult your doctor for approval before engaging in any long distance travel. Also, go for routine check-ups to rule out any complications that may prevent you from travelling. Safe travel requires a good amount of planning and precautions. This is especially true when you are pregnant to ensure the safety of both you and your developing baby.

Also Read: Air Travel during Pregnancy