Hearing the word “travel” may very well warrant a pause- especially in 2021. Perhaps, even more so when you factor in doing this while pregnant. The challenges of travel in the current climate and in pregnancy are unarguable. But, lucky for us, the opportunities to travel and travel safely for that matter are increasing day by day. More countries, airlines, and hotels are expanding their breadth of offerings, doing so with the necessary health and safety protocols to safeguard travelers’ wellbeing. Additionally, the American Pregnancy Association notes that traveling with an uncomplicated pregnancy and full vaccination status is safe. Nonetheless, there are essential tips to keep in mind to make traveling both safer and more enjoyable. So, here are our recommendations if you are considering upcoming travels.
1.) Understand the Implications of Timing
According to Johns Hopkins, traveling during pregnancy is both a standard and frequent phenomenon. Many women do it! However, as with anything in pregnancy, there are certain times when you are better fit to do so.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that the sweet spot for traveling is the second trimester, specifically weeks 14 to 28. It’s late enough in the pregnancy to mitigate the risk of experiencing a spontaneous abortion. Also, most women report lower morning sickness and higher energy as they emerge from their first trimester.
Simultaneously, the second trimester is early enough to reduce certain risks, particularly the risk of premature labor. Also, many women experience less discomfort, given that they are still not experiencing the full-term weight demands of their pregnancy. Walking, sitting, and general movement is more comfortable at this point.
Even with the second semester just being favorable, women may face regulations from airlines that prohibit them from traveling at a certain point in their pregnancy. For example, women are not allowed to travel on airplanes after 36 weeks for domestic flights and 28 to 35 weeks for international flights.
2.) Don’t Skimp on the Healthcare Provider’s Blessing
Ultimately, timing should not be your absolute determining factor- a conversation with your healthcare provider should be. They will be able to make informed recommendations for how or if you should be traveling. For instance, some women possess certain underlying conditions that make them less fit to travel than others. Additionally, some locations with particular diseases, namely the Zika virus or Malaria, are not recommended for pregnant women, given the adverse impacts it can cause to developing babies. Of course, the list of all the deciding factors could go on and on; but, the bottom line is that your healthcare professional will be able to work with you to help empower you with the information you need to make travel plans confidently.
3.) Determine Your Trip Location. Then Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More
What to expect when you’re expecting? How about what to expect when you’re unexpecting? Things inevitably have the possibility of going wrong. Life is wild; random things happen all the time. However, having a plan in place for these things can make traveling a more restful and less worrisome experience. When you determine the location of your travels, research surrounding hospitals that you feel comfortable with and feel comfortable getting transport to. Then, determine whether your insurance is accepted there. If it is not, or you feel uncertain about your coverage, consider travel insurance. Travel insurance can help in expanding your coverage, notably in cases of emergency or travels abroad where healthcare coverage can get tricky. There are different forms of travel insurance; so, make sure to identify which makes the most sense for you.
Additionally, you should plan on bringing some travel and pregnancy necessities. For one, an essential item on the list should be your medical records in case you need to go to a healthcare provider on your travels. This will make it very easy for the healthcare provider receiving you to get a full scope into your health and more specifically your unique pregnancy details. Another series of things that should be stowed in your (light-weight) travel bag should be your prenatal vitamins, water to stay hydrated, and some healthy snacks. You have to keep well-fueled on your travels!
4.) Explore and Define Expectations for Your Comfort While Traveling
Once you get your healthcare professionals’ blessing for travel and get your plans situated, there is another important voice to consider… Yours! As you plan to travel, have an honest discussion with yourself in laying clear expectations of what you want and, conversely, what you want to avoid while traveling.
For example, if you find yourself easily fatigued, perhaps elect for activities that do not require you to be on your feet for too long. If you find that you are easily nauseated, you’re in luck because you’ve just found the perfect excuse not to go on that corny pirate boat tour your significant other has been pining for. “Sorry, babe, I’ll throw up” never sounded so sweet. Jokes aside, you know yourself best and should make a point to emulate this when traveling.
The Bottom Line
It is essential to enjoy yourself! As we were once all too familiar with, travel is not guaranteed. So, as you find yourself in a position to travel, be compassionate to the constraints your pregnancy puts on you and give yourself the necessary tools to travel well and travel safely. Know the best timing; know that you have your healthcare provider’s support; know your plan; and most importantly, know that your travels should be centralized around you!