When Should You Stop Traveling While Pregnant?

  • Medical Reviewer: Poonam Sachdev, MD
Medically Reviewed on 11/2/2021

Pregnancy is a special time in your life. However, it can also be stressful. If this is your first time being pregnant, you might feel overwhelmed or unclear about what to do and what or not to do. You want to live your life, yet you don’t want to hurt your baby accidentally. Learn more about how to travel safely while pregnant

Is it safe to travel during pregnancy?

For uncomplicated pregnancies, it can be safe to travel during your pregnancy. However, the recommended time to travel is during your second trimester. The first trimester can be an intensely uncomfortable time to travel due to morning sickness and other painful symptoms. Your risk for a miscarriage will also be significantly decreased after this time.

The third trimester may not be an excellent time to travel as your risk for early delivery or health complications may increase. You must also stay close to your doctors around this time. Due to this, you should stop traveling at the beginning of your third trimester.

Some other general things to think about if you want to travel during your pregnancy:

Medical risks. Talk to your doctor about your travel plans. You might need to change your plans to make your trip safer. Some of the conditions that this pertains to are high blood pressure, anemia, or diabetes. Perhaps you might need to bring compression socks, or your doctor might ask you to stand up every few hours. You might also want to take necessary medical documentation if you need treatment from a doctor who hasn’t treated you before. 

The number of babies you are carrying. If you have twins, triplets, or any number of babies greater than one, your risk for early delivery is much greater. People carrying more than one baby at a time should talk with their doctors before considering any travel. 

Unique medical risks at your destination. Research and talk to your doctor about your destination. Some infections and diseases pose serious harm to both you and your baby. One of the most well-known examples is Zika.  

Vaccinations. Certain vaccines are not recommended for pregnant women. Usually, these are live vaccines such as the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines. Something like the influenza vaccine is entirely safe. However, traveling to some parts of the world may require particular vaccinations — research whether or not you can safely receive them. 

Be prepared. Always know that you could go into labor or have a medical emergency when traveling while pregnant. For maximum safety, always bring your medical records when traveling, research caregivers in the area, and let your health insurance know you are planning to travel. Your insurance can fill you in on where and how to receive healthcare, especially if you are traveling internationally.

What is the best way to travel if you are pregnant?

The best way to travel while pregnant is the way that makes you feel the most comfortable. Take stock of how far along you are and consider how your body feels and how that may interact with whatever travel you are planning. Know that a travel method in which you can stand up and stretch is essential. This can help reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis, a condition when blood clots prevent your blood from circulating properly. Here are some considerations for each type of travel:

  • Flying. Traveling by airplane isn’t a dangerous method of travel during your pregnancy, but you should still discuss any plane journey you are considering with your doctor. If you are thinking of traveling later in your pregnancy, you should check in with the airline. You may need to procure a note from your doctor certifying you are safe to fly. Additionally, try to purchase an aisle seat. That way, you can stand up whenever you need.
  • Car travel. Long car journeys can be challenging for your body when pregnant. If you need to journey by car, try to make frequent stops to stretch and walk around. Bring plenty of healthy snacks and water. Try to drive with the windows down, and make sure to use your safety belt. Pregnant women are more at risk of a car accident-related injury, so also make sure to have a safe vehicle and driver. 
  • Boats. Often boats like ferries or cruises will not allow pregnant women to board in their second trimester or above. Make sure to research the boat's policy before you book a trip.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/2/2021
References

American Pregnancy Association: “Travel During Pregnancy.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Traveling During Pregnancy.”

?NHS: “Travelling in pregnancy.”