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Traveling During Pregnancy

Published on December 10, 2012 by Virginia Women's Center

For many of us, the holiday season may include a trip to visit family or friends. If you’re pregnant, here are some tips to help you have a safe and enjoyable vacation:

General travel tips:

  • It is always best to speak with your health care provider about your ability to travel. If you have certain complications, it might be better for you to celebrate the season in town.
  • Generally, the best time to travel is between weeks 14 and 28 of your pregnancy. This is typically the time when you are feeling your best and the risks of miscarriage or preterm labor are less. Many women are able to travel up until a few weeks before their due date, but again, it is best to discuss this with your health care provider.
  • When you travel, make sure you drink enough water. This is especially important during air travel. It might also be helpful to bring healthy snacks with you so that you can keep your energy up.
  • Choose comfortable clothing and footwear. Also remember to pack lightly or to check your bags, if possible. That way you won’t have to worry about lifting or carrying heavy suitcases.
  • You may have to forgo some of your family’s planned winter activities this year such as skiing, snowboarding or ice skating. Contact sports or activities that put you at greater risk of falling should be avoided during pregnancy. However, this doesn’t mean you have to sit on the sidelines. Learn more about what kinds of exercises are beneficial during pregnancy.
  • It is best to avoid taking a cruise while you are pregnant. Also, try not to pick destinations where medical care may be suboptimal or where returning home may be difficult.
  • Your health care provider may recommend you take a copy of your prenatal record summary. In case you experience any complications while you are out of town, you can provide a health care provider or hospital with this important information. We also recommend you take your OB Passport with you during your trip.


Traveling by plane:

  • Air travel is almost always safe for women with low-risk pregnancies up to 36 weeks gestation. You might be more comfortable if you select a seat near the front of the plane as the ride tends to be smoother. In addition, pick the aisle seat so that you can easily slip out to the restroom if needed.
  • If you are traveling on a long flight, try to get up at least every hour to stretch your legs. This can also help reduce leg swelling and blood clots.


Traveling by automobile:

  • If you’ll be taking a road trip this season, make sure you take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs.
  • When you’re in your vehicle (whether you’re on a road trip or just going to the grocery store), it’s important that you keep the airbags turned on and that you sit at least 10 inches back from the dashboard, if possible. Also, make sure you use both the lap and shoulder seat belt every time you’re in the car. Wear the lap belt low on your hip bones, not across your belly. Wear the shoulder belt across the center of your chest, between your breasts, instead of under your arm.


If you’re traveling this holiday season or any time during your pregnancy, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip. Remember, we’re always just a phone call or secure message away.