Travel During Pregnancy
If you are planning a vacation or trip, the easiest time to travel is during the second trimester. The nausea you experienced during the first trimester should have resolved, and you are not as uncomfortable as most women typically are in the third trimester. However, travel is typically safe during any point in pregnancy. If you have any questions please call our office.
What kinds of things are we worried about with travel and pregnancy?
1. DVT— A DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the body, commonly the legs. Sometimes these blood clots can travel to the lungs, resulting in a very serious and potentially life-threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism. Research has shown that traveling longer than 4 hours doubles the risk of developing a DVT. Being immobile for long periods of time is what causes this. Additionally, pregnant women are more likely to form blood clots than women who are not pregnant. This is why it is important that you stop and stretch often.
2. Regardless of where you are going and how you are getting there, it is important when you are pregnant that you have access to medical care.
You can travel safely in the car at any point in your pregnancy. However, we recommend you limit travel that is greater than one hour from the hospital after 35 weeks of pregnancy.
Seat belt—you should always wear your seat belt. The lap belt should sit below your belly, across the hip bones. The shoulder belt should extend between the breasts and off to the right side of the belly.
Air bags—do not disable air bags. The benefits or air bags outweigh the potential risk. However, for maximal safety, sit as far from the wheel as you can to still be able to reach the gas pedal.
Long trips—It is important that you make frequent stops while taking long trips to stretch your legs and help prevent the formation of a DVT (see above). Try to get out of the car every 1 ½ to 2 hours to move around.
Travel by Airplane
Air travel is almost always safe for pregnant women. However, most airlines restrict domestic travel during the last 4-6 weeks and international travel earlier than that. It is best to check with the airline prior to flying to see if medical clearance or a doctor’s letter is required.
There are a few things you can do to make travel easier and more comfortable:
▪ As with travel by car, It is important that you walk frequently and stretch your legs. This helps prevent the formation of a blood clot in your legs (DVT, deep vein thrombosis)
▪ Avoid drinking carbonated beverage before or during the flight. The gas can expand in the low air pressure cabin causing increased discomfort
▪ Consider booking an aisle seat to make it easier to get out of the seat and move
▪ If you are prone to motion sickness or have experienced significant nausea with your pregnancy requiring prescription medication, take your medicine 30 minutes to 1 hour before flying
▪ Wear your seatbelt for the duration of the flight. Wear the lap belt the same way you do in the car, below the belly
Travel to certain areas of the world may not be advisable during pregnancy. You should discuss this with your provider prior to scheduling a trip. You should not travel to areas where there is risk of malaria. This includes Africa, Central and South America, and Asia. If travel to these areas is unavoidable, you will need to take an antimalarial drug such as chloroquine or mefloquine. Pregnant women should not take the antimalarial drugs atovaquone and proguanil, doxycycline, or primaquine.
For up-to-date information, recommendations on vaccinations, or other information specific to certain regions, please visit the CDC’s webpage regarding this at:
Travel by Ship
Traveling on a cruise is a perfectly safe way to travel while pregnant. However, if you are prone to motion sickness or have never taken a cruise before, pregnancy may not be the best time to try it. Some things to check on before you go:
▪ Make sure a physician is on board in case there is an emergency
▪ Talk to your physician about getting a prescription filled for nausea medications prior to your trip. Even if you do not typically experience nausea, it is easier to take it with you than to need it and not have it!
▪ You may make stops in countries where the water is not safe to drink. As a general rule, do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled for 1 minute (3 minutes at altitudes higher than 6,000 feet). A safer alternative is to drink bottled water or carbonated beverages. Do not use ice in your drinks or drink out of glasses that are cleaned with unboiled water.
▪ On excursions off the ship, eat only fruits or vegetables that are cooked. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish (see the list of safe fish while pregnant)
▪ Norovirus is a virus that can cause severe nausea and vomiting. It is highly contagious and can be passed from passenger to passenger by eating food, drinking liquids, or touching surfaces contaminated with the virus. To protect yourself, wash your hands frequently. Do not eat unwashed fruits or vegetables. The CDC inspects cruise ships periodically to prevent outbreaks. You can check their inspection reports at the following website: