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Today’s society is increasingly mobile, and the demands of career and family often require travel during a woman’s pregnancy. Here are some tips and guidance for safe travels while you’re pregnant.
Be sure to consider multiple factors when making your travel decisions, including the distance, travel time to your destination, and stress involved. A five-hour trip by car with several stops may turn out to be shorter and less stressful than a two-hour plane trip with long preboard waits and luggage delays.
Modern transportation makes traveling safe during pregnancy. But many women find that travel during the second trimester is the easiest. By this time, morning sickness of the first trimester is usually over, and the physical demands of late pregnancy haven’t yet arrived. Always check with your health care provider before traveling, but the likelihood is low for pregnancy emergencies during this time.
Most modes of travel are safe for pregnant women, with a few exceptions. But no matter how you travel, it’s important to get up and move around frequently, which can decrease the chances for deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis is when blood clots form in the legs or other parts of the body. This condition is more likely for pregnant women.
When traveling by car, be sure to wear your seat belt correctly. Studies have found the best way to protect you and your unborn baby is to:
Move your seat back as far as possible, with at least 10 inches between your sternum (breastbone) and the steering wheel or dashboard.
Adjust the lap belt so that it is low, across your hips and below your belly.
Place the shoulder belt across your chest between your breasts and away from your neck. You should never push the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.
Always leave the air bag switch turned on, because the air bag works with your seat belt for the maximum protection.
Air travel is generally safe, but women with certain medical conditions and those with a high-risk pregnancy may be advised not to fly. Many airlines recommend that pregnant women not travel during the last few weeks of pregnancy.
Also, frequent fliers have some risk of increased radiation, so be sure to talk with your health care provider if you need to travel frequently by air. When you do fly, drink plenty of water to minimize the drying effects of airplane cabin air. And as with car travel, wear your seat belt low across your hips while seated.
International travel is an issue during pregnancy because of the length of the trip, the risks of contracting diseases, and the potential for pregnancy complications while away from your obstetric care provider. If you have to travel internationally, be sure to discuss your trip with your health care provider, and plan to carry a copy of your medical records with you.
If your plans include travel during pregnancy, and you aren’t having any pregnancy problems, with proper planning, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip.