Advice for the Pregnant Traveler

This is a follow up to my blog on “babymoons” (vacations that expectant parents take prior to the birth of their child). I felt, as though I should address concerns regarding traveling while you are pregnant. I remember asking my doctor whether I could travel to San Antonio in my eighth month of pregnancy. He asked if I felt comfortable delivering my baby there. I said, “no.” He replied, “I guess you have your answer.” It was said very nicely as he is a wonderful doctor, but his response lends itself to the most important point in this blog: Regardless of the suggestions listed, it is vital that you consult your own physician before traveling during your pregnancy. With that said, here are 10 tips to consider before you make your airline reservations:

1. Try to book your flights during your second trimester. Doctors identify weeks 14 to 28, as the best time to travel, after the risk of miscarriage in the first trimester and before the possibility of early labor in the third.

2. Schedule an examination shortly before departure. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests that pregnant women traveling long distances should carry a copy of their medical records.

3. Before booking your flight, check with the airline about their rules for late-term pregnant travelers. Some airlines will not allow you to fly after 36 weeks on domestic flights, and 34-35 weeks on international routes.

4. When you book a flight, ask for a seat in the bulkhead row, which will provide you with more legroom. Also, consider an aisle seat. It will allow easy access to the bathroom and to aisles that you can stroll during longer flights.

5. Try to exercise at least every hour on long journeys. Exercise the calf muscles by rotating your ankles. Thromboembolism, or blood clotting, is a real risk in pregnancy; doctors vary in their recommendations on how often to take a short stroll, from every half hour to every two hours.

6. Wear loose clothing. Due to the change in atmospheric pressure in a plane, parts of your body can expand due to increased gas.

7. Avoid dehydration. Take advantage of the free in-flight beverages or bring your own water bottle. Tea and coffee on flights can add to the problem of dehydration. It is very important to remain hydrated during a long flight by drinking plenty of water and fruit juices. Doctors say that drinking plenty of liquids help keep up the level of placental fluids.

8. Pack snacks. Most major airlines do not offer free meals anymore. If you have a craving for a particular snack, pack plenty of it in your carry-on.

9. Make sure that your insurance covers your ‘pre-existing’ condition, should any unforeseen problems arise. Will it cover you for prenatal emergencies or delivery in foreign countries? Is there a cut-off date for maternity travel?

10. Vaccinations. Many countries require vaccination, some of which may not be advisable to have during the first trimester of pregnancy. If it is essential that you travel to a destination where Yellow Fever vaccination is required, talk to your doctor about a certificate of exemption. If it is essential that you travel to a malarial area, medication may be required. Discuss with your doctor the most suitable medication for you. Folic acid supplements are sometimes recommended with certain anti-malarial tablets.

By planning ahead and keeping a sensible travel agenda, your pregnancy should pose little problem for you as you prepare to take flight.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.