I was pregnant and 33,000 feet in the air on a flight from Los Angeles to New York, with my bladder screaming at me for the third time and the guy on the aisle seat glaring at me every time I needed another bathroom trip, when it occurred to me I was in dire need of some advice on traveling while pregnant.
Hey, don’t misunderstand me, I’m addicted to travel and I wasn’t about to give it up with either one of my pregnancies. So in no way am I suggesting you should ever pass up traveling just because you’re pregnant. It can, however, make a world of difference in how much you’ll enjoy your trip, if you pay attention to few simple tips for traveling while pregnant.
Every pregnancy is unique, so you should always consult your physician before taking a trip. As a general rule, however, if your pregnancy is not high risk, things are progressing normally and you have the blessing of your physician, most women are usually capable of traveling up to 36 weeks into their pregnancy.
Once you’ve been physically cleared for take off, then the rest is up to you to make smart planning choices that will result in a relaxed trip for you. So if you’ve never traveled before while pregnant, save yourself the agony of learning the hard way like I did, and check out a few tips that will help get you going in the right direction.
Timing and destination are everything. Many doctors recommend the best time to schedule travel is between 20 and 30 weeks into your pregnancy, because then you’re usually well beyond any first trimester nausea or fatigue and you’re not so far along that you’re physically uncomfortable or at risk for an early delivery. I know, I know….International travel to exotic destinations always gets my blood pumping, but choosing a domestic destination where you won’t need to worry about unsafe drinking water and unfamiliar foreign medical care should an emergency present, is a lot smarter choice when you’re carrying precious cargo in your belly. High altitude destinations are not advised either and if you’re traveling to a place that requires vaccinations, you’ll need to consult with your physician about the feasibility and risks involved in considering traveling to those areas.
Be practical about how active you can be while expecting. Being active while pregnant is a good thing. However, if you’ve had your heart set on power parachuting, scuba diving or skydiving while on vacation, obviously this shouldn’t be the trip where you fulfill those dreams. Instead, choose a destination that provides lower risk and less impactful activities like easy walking or hiking trails, swimming and relaxing yoga classes and where you won’t end up feeling left out and surrounded by too many activities that you need to opt out on. Save those adrenaline type vacations for another time when you don’t have an unknowing and precious “passenger” traveling in your belly!
Consider taking a road trip. I know I risk sounding dull and boring, but truthfully, road trips are one of my favorite vacations and they’re a really great choice while pregnant because they allow you the most flexibility and control. Reason being, you get to choose exactly how many miles you want to cover, you can change up your itinerary at any time and make as many pit stops along the way as you choose. As with air travel, you’ll need to take occasional breaks to get out of your seat and walk as a means to help increase blood circulation. Be sure to adjust your seat belt as you ordinarily would, with the lap belt low, across your hips and below your “bump”. Your shoulder belt should rest across your chest and off to one side of the “bump”. And last, but not least, forget choosing that long and winding mountain road trip you’ve been thinking about, unless you want a crash course in learning how to handle cleaning up barf from the carpet in anticipation of adding to your future parenting skills.
Drink lots of water (and bring your own snacks) if you’re flying. If you’ll be traveling by plane, staying hydrated is an absolute priority. Even when you’re not pregnant, air travel can be very dehydrating. Most pregnant women should drink at least 8 to 12 eight-ounce glasses of water daily, and this amount becomes even more important if you are breastfeeding. Always bring along several small healthy snacks that are a part of your regular diet. Avoid eating too many salty foods that can cause unwanted water retention at high altitude and stay away from drinking caffeinated drinks that can also contribute to dehydration.
Reserve an aisle seat on the plane. If your flight is of significant duration, try to reserve an aisle seat so you can easily get up and walk the aisles to help your blood circulation. Pack comfortable shoes that will allow some room if your feet swell and ask your doctor if wearing compression tights might be a good idea to help with circulation during a flight. If you’re drinking sufficient amounts of water, having an aisle seat will also be helpful when you need to get up and make your way down to the bathroom too.
So now that you’ve got a few tips to help set you off traveling in the right direction, stop procrastinating and pack your bags!
Any tips to add for traveling while you’re pregnant to this list?