When to stop travelling while pregnant? Here are tips for travelling safely by air, road and sea

PHOTO: Pexels

"Do you travel during pregnancy?", "Which weeks are safe for travel?", "When to stop travelling while pregnant?" - these are some of the most common concerns we receive on theAsianparent app.

Here is all you need to know about travelling during pregnancy.

IS TRAVEL SAFE DURING PREGNANCY? WHEN TO STOP TRAVELLING WHILE PREGNANT?

Travelling during pregnancy is usually safe. As long as you and your foetus are healthy, and you get your doctor's approval, it is generally considered safe to travel until you are 36 weeks pregnant.

However, travelling during pregnancy is not recommended if you have certain pregnancy complications, like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, prelabour rupture of membranes, and possibility of preterm labour.

Travel also may not be a good idea if you have any vaginal bleeding or risk of miscarriage. Or if you are pregnant with more than one foetus.

The ideal time to travel during pregnancy is the second trimester, between week 14 and week 28. This is because, by then, you are past the morning sickness of the first trimester and several weeks away from the third trimester of pregnancy, when you are more likely to be easily fatigued.

The risk of miscarriage is also higher in the first 3 months, whether you're travelling or not.

If you are planning to travel by air, check your airline's policies when planning your trip. Most airlines allow pregnant women to travel through their eighth month. Airlines usually discourage travel after 36 weeks.

TIPS FOR TRAVELLING DURING PREGNANCY

Here are a few general tips to make sure your trip is safe and comfortable:

Do your research on your travel destination. Avoid travel to areas with Zika and malaria outbreaks. Check that you are up-to-date with your vaccines.

Schedule a checkup with your obstetrician-gynecologist (ob-gyn) before you leave.

It is best to have a written approval from your doctor verifying your due date, if you are considering international travel. It is especially important to get cleared for takeoff if you have a chronic medical problem such as problems with breathing.

Carry any over-the-counter and prescribed medications that you may need, such as pain relievers, a first aid kit, and prenatal vitamins. Other essentials include sanitiser, sunscreen and mosquito repellant.

Always check if tap water is safe to drink. When in doubt, drink bottled water.

It is better to get travel insurance as so many things can go wrong during travel, from losing your baggage to falling sick. And getting medical attention in a foreign country can be super expensive.

TIPS FOR TRAVELLING BY ROAD

  • Remember to wear your seatbelt at all times.

Strap the lower belt across your lower lap or upper thighs (under the bump). Run the shoulder belt between your breasts and up over your shoulder, not over your abdomen.

  • It's best to avoid long car journeys if you're pregnant.

If you are driving, try not to drive more than 5 to 6 hours per day. If you need to travel for long, plan to make frequent stops so that you can move around and stretch your legs, to keep the blood circulating.

These exercises might help during road travel

To keep the blood flowing through your legs, you can do some exercises while you are seated (and not driving), such as flexing and rotating your feet and wiggling your toes.

If your car journey is going to be more than 4 hours long, it is good to wear compression stockings, as they help in increasing the blood flow in the legs and in preventing blood clots.

  • Stay hydrated and snack regularly on long drives.

During long drives, remember to wear loose-fitting clothes. Drink plenty of water and snack on easy-t0-carry energy foods like fruit and nuts.

TIPS FOR TRAVELLING BY PLANE

View this post on Instagram

✈️Is flying during pregnancy safe? ⁣ ⁣ [Español en los comentarios]⁣ ⁣ 👨🏼‍⚕️This is a very common question I get from patients. For most patients, the answer is yes. ⁣ ⁣ 🤰🏻In the absence of obstetric or medical complications, ACOG (the Ob/Gyn society) recommends that pregnant women observe the same general precautions for air travel as the general population and can fly safely up to 36 weeks of gestation. If you need to fly after that, make sure to get a doctor’s note (or they may not let you board).⁣ ⁣ Tips for flying safely:⁣ ✈️Water, water and more water: Staying hydrated is key (you may want that aisle seat for your frequent bathroom trips)⁣ ✈️Stretch your legs: Pregnant women are at higher risk of having blood clots, so frequent walks and stretching your legs can help help prevent one. ⁣ ✈️Avoid gassy foods and drinks preflight: Gases expand at altitude (due to lower atmospheric pressure), which can cause discomfort. ⁣ ✈️Check your airline policy: Many will allow you to fly up to 36 weeks, but each varies and its better to find out before you are boarding. ⁣ ✈️Radiation exposure associated with air travel at high altitudes isn't thought to be problematic for most who fly during pregnancy, unless you are flight attendants and pilots. ⁣ ✈️It's perfectly safe for you to walk through airport security scanners when you're pregnant, no matter what type of scanner is used. That said, if you are worried, you can always ask for a manual pat down. ⁣ ⁣ 🏩The main issue with flying is that if you need immediate medical care, it won’t be available until you land, even if they land the plane sooner for you. For most people, this is ok, but for those at high risk of complications, it may not be worth the risk. ⁣ ⁣ 🚫Pregnant women at significant risk for preterm labor or with placental abnormalities should avoid air travel. If you are unsure if this is you, check with your doctor before flying. ⁣ ⁣ ❓Any other questions about flying in pregnancy? Any exciting baby moons coming up?⁣ ⁣ #obgyn #doctorlife #doctor #md #physician #rei ⁠ #ttc #health #wellness #embarazo #fertilidad #embarazada #bebe #flyingpregnant #pregnanttraveler #pregnancytips #babymoon #viajeraembarazada

A post shared by Dr. Eduardo Hariton (@haritonmd) on

  • Check your airline's policies when planning your trip.

Generally, commercial air travel before week 36 of pregnancy is considered safe if you have a healthy pregnancy. However, guidelines for pregnant women might vary by carrier and destination.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the International Air Travel Association recommend that pregnant women in an uncomplicated pregnancy avoid travel from the 37th week of pregnancy through birth.

This is because the chance of going into labour is naturally higher after 37 weeks (and around 32 weeks if you're carrying twins or multiples).

If you are past week 28 of your pregnancy, the airline may ask for a letter from your doctor confirming your due date, and that you aren't at risk of complications.

  • Avoid air travel in case of pregnancy or health complications.

If you are suffering from any of these conditions, get your doctor's approval before travelling:

  • Severe anaemia
  • Cardiac disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Recent haemorrhage
  • Current or recent bone fractures

Also, chances of premature labour may be higher after 32 weeks, for women who are carrying twins or triplets. So avoid air travel during that period.

AVOID FREQUENT FLYING

If you're a frequent flyer, such as a business traveller, pilot, or flight attendant, you might be exposed to a level of cosmic radiation that is considered unsafe during pregnancy. So, if you must fly frequently during your pregnancy, discuss it with your doctor first.

  • Wear your seatbelt at all times.

This can help keep you from getting hurt in case of turbulence. Fasten the belt under the abdomen (under the bump).

  • Pick your seat wisely

Choose a seat towards the front of the plane, where it is likely to be less bumpy. Also, book an aisle seat so you don't have to climb over other passengers when you need to get up to use the restroom.

  • Promote blood circulation.

Long-distance travel (longer than 4 hours) carries a small risk of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis (DVT)). Sitting for long stretches of time during any kind of travel raises your chances of having DVT.

So, wear loose, comfortable clothing. Flex your ankles periodically during the flight, and take occasional walks up and down the aisle when it's safe to leave your seat.

Wearing compression or support stockings may help prevent DVT and reduce leg swelling. But if you have diabetes or problems with blood circulation, you are advised not to wear them.

  • Drink plenty of water.

Keep yourself well-hydrated by drinking lots of water. Avoid gassy food and drinks such as soda.

TIPS FOR TRAVELLING BY SHIP

  • Check the policy of the ferry/cruise company for pregnant women

Ferry companies may refuse to carry heavily pregnant women (32 weeks and above). Check the ferry company's policy before you book.

  • Research on facilities beforehand

Make sure that your cruise is well-equipped to handle medical emergencies or pregnancy complications. Also make sure that your scheduled stops are places with modern medical facilities.

  • Ask your doctor for medication to take in case of sea sickness.
  • Guard yourself against infections

A concern for those travelling on cruise ships is norovirus infection, which can cause severe nausea and vomiting. Wash your hands often and wash any fruits and vegetables you eat during the cruise to avoid getting infected.

When should you seek medical care during travel?

Seek medical help if you have any of these signs and symptoms while travelling:

  • Belly pain or cramps
  • Contractions (when the muscles of your uterus get tight and then relax)
  • Severe headaches
  • Leg swelling or pain
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Vision problems
  • Your water breaks

This article was first published in the Asian parent.

SERVICES