Over many decades of delivering babies, I have seen a lot of changes. Recently I’ve notice the advent of the “babymoon.” For the uninitiated, a babymoon is a relaxing or romantic vacation taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born. This is a time for a couple to re-connect and enjoy some time together before their lives are forever changed with the addition of a baby. Parent magazines, Pinterest posts, and travel magazines are teeming with destinations that cater specifically to expectant parents. Some come complete with special pregnancy massages and exercise classes.
If you plan to do some traveling during pregnancy, it’s best to let your health care provider know what you’re planning. She or he can give you some guidelines to make sure that your travel plans are safe. One of the most important decisions is timing. The optimal time to travel during pregnancy is between 14 and 28 weeks. This second trimester is the sweet spot as most common pregnancy-related emergencies occur in the first and third trimesters. Additionally, many women will experience the extreme tiredness or “morning” sickness in the first weeks of pregnancy. Most women will feel their pregnant best during the second trimester.
Aside from timing, another important consideration is the type of travel you plan on doing. If you plan to travel by car, be sure to try and limit your trips to no more than six hours per day and allow for frequent stops. It’s important to get out of the car and stretch and walk to avoid the risks of blood clots, which can increase with pregnancy. Seatbelts should always be worn including during pregnancy.
Air travel is safe during pregnancy, but you should always consult with your health care provider about any plans to fly during pregnancy. Most airlines have restrictions about flying while pregnant, and some will require medical documentation if you are trying to travel after 36 weeks. Domestic and international airlines have different requirements, so be sure to check on these before you book a flight. Once again, trying to move and stretch is always a good idea during pregnancy but may be more limited on a flight.
If your travel plans include ship cruising, it’s equally important to alert your health care provider. While mobility may be easier with a cruise ship, sea travel has other matters to consider during pregnancy. Motion or seasickness can occur, and you will want to be prepared. Your health care provider can let you know what medications will be safe to take during pregnancy to combat this. Additionally, noroviruses, which can cause extreme nausea and vomiting, can occur on cruise ships and are highly contagious. It’s important to know how to treat illness while traveling, as dehydration during pregnancy can be dangerous to your fetus.
Those who may want or need to travel abroad during pregnancy should also be aware of travel advisories, which can be found at the Center for Disease Control or CDC’s website at wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. Here you will find all the up-to-date information about recommended vaccines and travel restrictions. Much has been publicized lately about the Zika virus and pregnancy, and the CDC is an excellent resource to learn about traveling safely during pregnancy. Topics like sanitation and food and water safety are all covered.
No matter where your travel plans take you, from a quick car trip over a long weekend to a luxury vacation, it’s a good idea to follow a couple of tips for traveling while pregnant. Always acquaint yourself with the closest medical facility in the area you are traveling. Be sure to carry with you the name and contact information for your obstetrician or midwife in the event of a medical emergency. If you find yourself at a hospital, staff may need this information to reach out to your health care provider for your medical records. Finally, be sure to share your travel plans with your health care provider. It’s far better to discuss these important matters before you plan your trip rather than after you’ve booked flights and hotels. Each pregnancy is unique, and general travel guidelines may not be sufficient if you have special risks or concerns.
Travel in pregnancy is possible and can be safe and enjoyable if you plan properly.
Dr. Hardy practices obstetrics and gynecology at Atlantic Ob/Gyn located in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. Please visit www.atlanticobgyn.com.