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Heading out of Richmond? Here are some tips for traveling—safely—when you’re pregnant.

Published on July 27, 2017 by VWC

Traveling when you’re  pregnant—whether by plane, train, boat or automobile—can be tricky. But with careful planning and preparation, there’s no need to sit home.  By following these tips you can stay comfortable and safe on your getaway.

General Travel Tips

  • Generally, the best time to travel is between weeks 14 and 28 of your pregnancy. Usually, you’re feeling your best, and the risks of miscarriage or preterm labor are less. Many women can travel up until one month before their due date.
  • When you travel, make sure to drink enough water—especially if you’re flying!
  • Take healthy snacks with you to keep you energized.
  • Stick with familiar foods whenever possible—no need to get an upset stomach in unfamiliar place.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and supportive footwear.  If you’re planning to do a lot of walking, you may want to pack shoes that are 1/2 to 1 whole size larger in case your feet swell.
  • Pack lightly. If possible, check your bags to avoid lugging your bags through the airport or having to hoist them into the overhead bins. If you can’t check them, ask for help!
  • If possible, avoid travel destinations where medical care is suboptimal or where returning home could be difficult. Sometimes this is challenging when traveling for business.  If you are concerned about your travel destination, make sure you’re aware of any health alerts or specific vaccination requirements in advance. And, talk to your doctor!
  • Sometimes, we’ll recommend you take a copy of your prenatal record summary with you when you go out of town. Then, if you experience any pregnancy complications, you can quickly share critical information with medical professionals.

Travel and Zika

  • Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.
  • Travel to areas where Zika is known to exist significantly increases your risk of contracting the virus.
  • Zika mainly spreads when a mosquito infected with the virus bites you. But, Zika also can spread through sex—with a man or woman.
  • Before you travel, check the Centers for Disease Control website to determine if your destination is known to be present.

Travel by Car

  • Make sure you use the lap and shoulder portion of the seatbelt— 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, not under your arm.
  •  If you’re going on a long road trip, take plenty of breaks to stretch your legs.
  • Whenever 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.

Travel 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 and often there is additional leg room. If possible, select an aisle seat so that you can easily slip out to the restroom if needed.
  • If you are traveling on a long flight, it’s important to stretch your legs every hour or so. You may also consider wearing compression stockings. Walking and wearing compression stockings can help reduce leg swelling and blood clots.
  • Check with the airline for any restrictions before you book your flight. Some airlines do not allow women to travel beyond 35 weeks.

Travel by Boat

  • Pick your cruise carefully. Does the cruise have a medical professional onboard? Does it dock in countries where food and water aren’t safe? Where healthcare is substandard? Are there any CDC warnings or travel restrictions for pregnant women?
  • Pack sufficient medication for the entire length of the cruise. Don’t rely on the ship’s pharmacy to stock your medication. You may also want to bring a written prescription as well—just in case you lose your meds.
  • Check with your insurance company to make sure that you’re covered for complications or delivery out of the country. If not, you may want to purchase additional travel medical coverage from either the cruise line or an insurance company.
  • Check with your cruise line to see if they have any restrictions for pregnant women. Often, cruise lines require a doctor’s note declaring you fit to travel.
  • Wash your hands! Communicable diseases travel fast on a ship.  Check with the CDC to see if your ship has passed a health and safety inspection recently. Check the news, or Google the cruise line and ship’s name, to make sure there wasn’t a recent viral outbreak. Even if the ship has a glowing record, some illnesses, like the norovirus, can wreak havoc as it spreads quickly and easily—even with regular/routine cleaning.

If you’re having a normal, healthy pregnancy, getting away before your baby is due can be safe, relaxing and fun. Remember, we’re just a phone call or secure message away if you have any questions.