Travel During Pregnancy: A Complete Guide

Pregnancy can be one of the most trying periods of your life, but the outcome of it is worth all the pain! The body is fragile and dynamic. Most of the women these days are employed, and they will have to travel to their office. But, is it safe to travel during pregnancy? This is an important question that arises in the mind of every woman. There will be times of emergency when you have to travel by air or sea or train. Are these modes of transport safe for women during pregnancy? We will know more about all these in this article.

journey during pregnancy

Is it safe to travel during Pregnancy?

This is the first and foremost question that arises for a pregnant woman. Yes, it is safe to travel during pregnancy provided you are not in your final days of delivery. But, as far as possible limit your travel to 30-32 weeks of your pregnancy. It is even safe to travel after 32 weeks, but doctors suggest not to travel because there might be a chance of preterm labour or sometimes even miscarriage. If you are in your first or final trimester, avoid travelling as much as possible because there are high chances of miscarriage due to travel.

Travel During Different Trimesters:

1. During the First Trimester:

This is the trimester wherein you do not even know that you are pregnant initially. The symptoms for early pregnancy include frequent urination, nausea, headaches and fatigue. Early pregnancy is the time when women may be most likely to experience pregnancy related issues that may make travel uncomfortable, such as nausea and fatigue. In general, there is also an increased risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy during the first trimester of pregnancy. The first 3 months are the period of organogenesis, that is the period of development of all organs of the baby. Any disturbance to this important process, either externally or internally, might lead to birth defects. This is the reason why doctors suggest pregnant women not to travel for long distances through any mode of transport during this trimester.

See More: Problems During Pregnancy

2. During the Second Trimester:

Generally, it is said that second trimester is the best time of all the three trimesters for the pregnant women to travel provided you take certain necessary precautions. 13 to 28 weeks is the second trimester, you will probably feel your best, and you will be in the least danger of having a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy and premature labour. This is the time when the Hence travelling in this trimester is the safest provided you do not much disturb your unborn baby’s home. Before you go on for long tours which consume much time, it is better to consult your doctor and take the necessary precautions.

3. During the Third Trimester:

This is the time when the size of your bump increases gradually. Due to this increase, you will put on a lot of weight, and your body becomes heavy and sluggish. Avoiding travel during this trimester is the best suggestion that one gives. But, doctors say that it is safe to travel till 34th week of your pregnancy only if you are careful enough during your journey. This is the trimester wherein the alignment of the baby gets fixed inside your womb. Travelling during this trimester may lead to preterm delivery as the crown of the baby may slip downwards or due to continuous travel, there may be a water break inside the womb. If such a thing happens during the journey (either by road, rail, sea or air), it is very dangerous to both mother and the baby. Hence avoiding travel as much as possible during this trimester is advisable.

Travelling Through Different Means of Transport:

A). By Car:

Pregnant women travelling by car is safer if you are not driving. Basically, a car trip can be a great vacation while pregnant to control your mood swings. A pleasant road trip for a pregnant woman refreshes her mind and relaxes her body. But, before doing this, you need to follow certain precautions. Here we listed down some precautions and tips to follow:

  1. Talk to your health provider before travelling by car.
  2. Make sure that you plan your trip in your 2nd trimester.
  3. You should drink plenty of water so that you don’t get dehydrated very often.
  4. Take extra meds and supplements because your journey may become longer than originally anticipated.
  5. One important thing if you are pregnant or not. Wear your seat belt.
  6. Get out and often stretch for at least every two hours so that blood flows to the lower part of your body to help avoid complications like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

B). By Train:

The train journey is considered safest of all the modes of transport systems for pregnant women. This is because the trains with their gentle rocking motion are best both for the mother and the baby within. However, it is recommended to consult your health provider before embarking on the journey. Train journey though it is safe to travel it is sometimes tricky; hence we should take necessary precautions before travelling. Here are a few tips and precautions.

  1. Before embarking on the journey, take the advice of your doctor.
  2. Always choose the best suited compartments/class of journey, preferably AC3 or AC2 tier coaches along with lower berths. This is because, during the later stages of pregnancy, jerking and sudden movements are not good for the health of the mother and the child within.
  3. Make sure that you don’t travel alone. Make sure you have a companion with you during your journey. This will help you refrain carrying your luggage.
  4. Make sure that you reach the station well before time to avoid any last minute rush.
  5. Avoid eating foods from station sidewalks or hawkers; however, appealing they might appear. Carry and buy packaged water bottles to keep yourself hydrated.
  6. Make sure that your seat in a comfortable posture. Take a stroll within the compartment. This will improve blood circulation.
  7. Keep extra medications and supplements with you because you might not know the train delays.

C). By Bus:

Travelling by bus is the standard mode of transport for almost everyone. For pregnant women are travelling by bus to the office is practically inevitable. For long journeys, avoid bus journeys due to the lack of restrooms on the buses. Unlike railways, roadways don’t follow uniform gradients and straight lines. The bumps on the roads are very dangerous for the mother and the unborn baby. The lack of enough aisle room is also one of the disadvantages of bus journeys for pregnant women. However, if it’s inevitable to travel by bus, certain precautions should be followed.

  1. Always inform the bus conductor or your co-passengers that you are pregnant so that you can save yourself from being pushed in crowded buses.
  2. In case of long journeys, inform your bus provider about your pregnancy so that they can arrange for a good seat and extra support to make your travel less tiring and risky.
  3. For seating position, better to pick the aisle seat so that you can move out of place without crawling over with too much effort.
  4. Keep paper bags handy for motion sickness as buses generally do not stop at random places.
  5. Every time the bus stops for breaks, use the opportunity to use the restrooms and stretch your legs and walk around a bit for proper blood circulation.

D). By Air:

The second best mode of transport for pregnant women is by travelling by air. This is because it saves much of our time. You can reach your destination much earlier than other means of transport. However, there are certain limitations to travel by air. Most of the airlines do not permit to travel after your 35th week, and they allow you only if you have a doctor’s certificate to travel and proper medical documentation to be filled. The main disadvantages of flying are

  • Aeroplane cabins usually have low humidity levels, making you get dehydrated.
  • The pressure levels in the mid air are high, which may affect the mother and the baby if the mother is not healthy.
  • Airports are the primary sources for the transmission of new diseases as many travellers from different countries travel. Pregnant women are easily prone to new infections.

See More: Is it Safe to Fly During Pregnancy

Precautions of Travelling in Compulsory Situation:

However, there will be some situation wherein travel by air for pregnant women is compulsory. Here are some precautions and tips to be followed if travelling by air.

  1. Try to get an aisle seat near the wall that separates first class from coach or exit aisle to have the maximum space and comfort. For a smooth ride, you may prefer a seat over the wing in the midplane area.
  2. During smooth flights, try to walk every half hour. Flexing and stretching your legs often will also help avoid swelling. Wearing Support stockings can also help.
  3. Wear the seat belt below your belly, preferably with assistance whenever you are in your seat.
  4. Wear proper layered clothing because the temperature in the cabin may keep changing during the flight.
  5. Drink plenty of fluids. The air in the plane can be arid.
  6. Eat tiny portioned meals to help avoid air sickness. Avoid processed foods and aerated drinks. If you want a meal on the plane, you can usually prebook it in advance.
  7. Drink only packaged drinking water.
  8. Compression socks might be your new best friend. Your circulation keeps changing during pregnancy, and that might lead to things like swelling and headaches. Compression socks or “support hose” helps keep the blood flowing as well as help reduce other pregnancy-related discomforts like restless leg syndrome.

E). By Ship:

Travelling by sea is generally not preferred for pregnant women. Most of the people have seasickness when travelling by ship or boat. This is because of the waves of the sea. The waves make the ship or boat swing, which results in nausea and fatigue. However taking a cruise while pregnant may seem like the ultimate in relaxation, but if you have never been before, pregnancy is the ideal time to give it a go. Pregnant women often feel nauseous, and seasickness may make this queasiness even worse. There are medications for nausea for seasickness, but they might harm your unborn baby. There are often reports of a stomach virus spreading on the cruises which are very dangerous. However, if travelling by sea is inevitable here are some precaution to follow.

  1. Make sure that you book for a cruise which has less waving action.
  2. Always carry your drinking water.
  3. Make sure you have enough supplies of your medications and supplements.
  4. To prevent motion sickness, do try acupressure wristbands.
  5. Medical services on the cruise are minimal. Check with the cruise line about the medical facilities available on the journey well in advance.

International Travel During Pregnancy:

Before travelling internationally, talk to your healthcare provider about it, to see if it is safe for you. It is important to make sure you have had all the shots you need for the countries you intend to visit. Some vaccinations and immunizations cannot be given to expectant mother.

Check with your health insurance provider whether your health insurance is valid abroad. Check that the policy covers a newborn if you were to give birth during your travels.

Be especially careful about what you eat in countries where diarrhea for travellers might be a problem. Diarrhea can cause dehydration and reduce the blood flow to the placenta and your baby.

  • Avoid drinking untreated water.
  • Do not buy drinks and food from street vendors.
  • Avoid eating raw or partially cooked fish, including such dishes as ceviche.
  • Bottled water without ice and carbonated soft drinks and water is usually safe.
  • Make sure you drink pasteurised milk. Avoid uncooked dairy products.
  • Ask your healthcare provider what medicines are safe to take if you do get diarrhea when you are pregnant.

When to Avoid Travel During Pregnancy:

  • Doctors say that long travels should be avoided as and when possible.
  • Also, avoid travelling in the 1st and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy.
  • Avoid travelling in buses during long journeys as buses do not have the facility of restrooms.
  • Avoid travelling on a cruise due to lack of enough medical facilities.
  • Please avoid travelling alone. This makes you get frightened very easily.
  • Avoid travelling in crowded buses or trains, which is very dangerous.

Effects and Risks of Travel During Pregnancy:

  1. Long periods of not moving during travelling increase the risk of clots forming in the deep veins of the leg, known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
  2. Travelling may cause cervical problems such as the incompetent cervix.
  3. Excessive travel by road, which has bumps can cause prior ectopic pregnancy.
  4. There will risk of miscarriage if travelled during the 1st or 3rd trimesters.
  5. For international travels, there will be a risk of new contagious diseases like influenza, malaria etc. which is harmful for the baby.
  6. Doctors suggest certain vaccination prior to international travel. Some of these vaccinations are harmful to the child within.

Safety Tips for Travel During Pregnancy:

  1. Make sure that you plan your trip in your 2nd trimester if it is unavoidable.
  2. You should drink plenty of water so that you don’t get dehydrated very often.
  3. Take extra meds and supplements because your journey may become longer than originally anticipated.
  4. Get out and often stretch for at least every two hours so that blood flows to the lower part of your body to help avoid complications like Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
  5. Avoid eating foods from outside sidewalks or hawkers; however, appealing they might appear. Carry and buy packaged water bottles to keep yourself hydrated.
  6. Make sure that you don’t travel alone. Always have a companion with you during your journey.
  7. Always have the contacts of your family members, doctor handy which will help you during emergency situations.

See More: Best Pregnancy Tips

Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to be stuck at home. If you’re going on a business trip or taking a vacation, there are ways you can stay healthy and safe when travelling during pregnancy while following some basic precautions. If you are a travel buff and do not want to burn your travel desires rethink about it during pregnancy and always take the advice of your doctor before embarking on the journey. After all, it is not only you to be safe; there is one inside you waiting to see this world.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:

Q1. What is the best time to travel during pregnancy?

Ans: The Second trimester is the best time to travel during pregnancy.

Q2. How long can you travel during pregnancy?

Ans: Travelling can be done till 35th week of pregnancy.

Q3. Where to not travel during pregnancy?

Ans: Avoid places where it is too hot because the pregnant woman gets dehydrated much faster. Also, avoid places where there is any virus break out.

Q4. What to do for labour pains in travelling?

Ans: If you experience labour pains during pregnancy rush immediately to the nearest hospital. Meanwhile, try to soothe yourselves by listening to calm music.