Good to go: Traveling while pregnant

By Published On: June 30th, 2010

When it comes to making travel plans, being knocked up […]

getpackinWhen it comes to making travel plans, being knocked up doesn’t have to keep you down. Let your doctor know your itinerary and be patient with your preggo self (your trips might need to be a tad less action-packed than usual)—countless opportunities for adventure await you!
Flying high
… but not too high. Long nonstop flights (including overseas expeditions) will take you to a higher altitude where oxygen is thinner, so sticking to shorter (duration and height) flights is your healthier option. Air travel is generally allowed by domestic airlines up until 36 weeks of pregnancy, and international flights permit travel until you reach 35 weeks. However, check with your doctor before buying a ticket—he may recommend staying on the ground during your third trimester, especially if there are any indications that you could deliver early.
Play it safe
When you book your ticket, let the airline know you’re expecting. They may be more helpful in assigning you a seat close to the front of the plane, and they’ll know to offer extra assistance while you’re en route. You may want to purchase travel insurance in case pregnancy-related issues force you to change your plans at the last minute.
When your departure date arrives, leave yourself plenty of time for check-in at the airport (since waddling to your gate may take a little longer than your usual swift stride). Keep stress to a minimum by starting with a healthy breakfast and taking your morning at a reasonable pace.
For comfort’s sake
The best way to keep your blood flowing is to get up and walk around every hour. If you have the choice, pick an aisle seat—you won’t have to climb over other passengers to make your hourly stretches, and you’ll have easier access to the bathroom (important when a baby is dancing on your bladder!). You’ll want to wear loose-fitting, comfy clothes and shoes to promote circulation and discourage swelling, blood clots and varicose veins.
Also keep plenty of healthy snacks and water on hand—that tiny pack of peanuts probably isn’t going to cut it, and the drink cart only comes by so often. Make sure to keep these supplies with you rather than in the overhead compartment. In fact, a woman who’s with child doesn’t need to be lifting luggage over her head at any point; ask your travel companion or a friendly flight attendant for assistance.
Road tripping
Car trips are safe throughout most of pregnancy, but again, it’s wise to get the green light from your doctor before you go. Shorter trips will probably be fine, but longer treks could be cause for concern, as they’ll take you farther from your healthcare professional.
Saddle up
In the driver’s position, moving the seat back a bit and adjusting the steering wheel can make room for your belly; however, you might be more comfortable as a passenger, if that’s an option. Riding sidekick allows you greater freedom to shift positions, stretch, wiggle your feet … whatever helps you make it through the drive. Pack pillows for neck and back support, but keep your seat nearly upright so the seatbelt can do its job.
Healthy riding
If you’re doing most of the driving yourself, know your limitations and don’t be in a hurry. You’re more likely to get sleepy behind the wheel now (and less likely to combat exhaustion with caffeine, which should be limited to 300 milligrams per day at most), so you can’t be hesitant about pulling over when you start to feel less than fully alert.
No matter who is driving, you’ll want to keep your circulation flowing by getting out to walk and stretch every hour or two, just as you would while flying. (Support hose and self-massage can also limit swelling in your lower legs.) Let your travel partner know your needs beforehand—he’ll be less likely to grow frustrated with frequent stops if he knows they’re medically necessary.
As when flying, eating healthy snacks and drinking water and milk at regular intervals is the best way to go. Doing so can help prevent nausea from creeping up on winding roads and extended treks. (Although for travelers with particularly sensitive tummies, a bout of carsickness may be inevitable!)