The holidays are a time of year filled with family, friends, and lots of celebration. But, when you're pregnant, there's so much more to celebrate with loved ones, and for many of us to share these moments, there is travel involved. According to a survey conducted by The Vacationer, more than 63% of people over the age of 18 will be traveling this holiday season, so here's a few tips and tricks to help you enjoy your travel plans and stay safe this holiday season.
General Tips for Travel During Pregnancy:
You'll want to discuss your family's travel plans with your ob/gyn or midwife before you leave. If you have any pregnancy complications or are close to your due date, traveling may not be in you or your baby's best interest. Your healthcare provider will be able to discuss your options and any suggested modifications to your travel plans so that you can stay healthy and safe during the holidays. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends being up to date on all vaccines and avoiding areas that put you at risk of exposure to the Zika virus. If your holidays include international travel, make sure your health insurance plan will cover care in another country.2 It's always wise to have a copy of your prenatal records with you when you travel and know where the closest medical facilities are to your destination. Because pregnancy and birth are somewhat unpredictable, it's also a good idea to get travel insurance for any air travel, cruise lines, or hotel stays--just in case your baby decides they have other plans for the holidays!
When you're traveling, compression stockings are a wonderful aid to reduce swelling and promote good blood flow in your legs, feet, and ankles, particularly if you have varicose veins or are at increased risk for blood clots. In addition to compression socks, get up and walk around every 30 minutes, as movement will also reduce the risk of developing DVT (deep vein thrombosis), and it's good for your body and your baby to move around frequently. If you are traveling by car, make sure to wear your seat belt low across your hips, not over your abdomen. If you are traveling by plane, consider requesting an aisle seat, as this will give you more room to move your legs around while you are in the air. If you weren't able to pick your seat when you purchased your ticket, you could ask your flight attendant if there are any aisle seats available once you are on the plane. Always pack plenty of water, and nutritious snacks for yourself--staying hydrated and nourished is always an important part of a healthy pregnancy! Eating well when you aren't at home is a struggle for many people, so bringing nuts, dried fruit, and other healthful foods to munch on will help you avoid constipation and other digestive issues that can come up when traveling.
First Trimester Tips
Many pregnant women struggle with morning sickness in the first trimester, which often presents the biggest obstacle to traveling during this time. Frequent snacks, seltzer water or ginger ale, saltines, ginger chews, and peppermint essential oil are all ways to keep queasiness and motion sickness away while you are on the road. Motion sickness bands use acupressure points to calm your stomach, and some pregnant people swear by them! You will want to call your healthcare provider if you have any vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain while you're gone, as those can be symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy that can be life-threatening and should be followed up immediately. Bring your prenatal vitamins and any other medications with you so you can continue to take them while you are gone--skipping your medications can make you feel even worse! Fatigue is a common complaint at the beginning of pregnancy, so don't over-schedule your time away. Block out some time every day for you to put your feet up and rest or even take a nap if you can. If you overextend yourself, your nausea can worsen, and you won't enjoy the rest of the celebrations with your loved ones.
Second Trimester Tips
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the best time to travel during pregnancy is in the second trimester or between 14 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. There is usually less morning sickness during this trimester, less swelling, and people are more comfortable moving around. Constipation can start becoming more of an issue during this time, so bringing a Magnesium or fiber supplement is often helpful. Make sure you drink plenty of water while you're traveling and get up and move your body every day--even if it's a walk around the neighborhood. Walking is one of the best and easiest ways to keep your body healthy and active during pregnancy. It's also a great way to spend time with your friends and family!
Third Trimester Tips
Check with your healthcare provider before traveling in your third trimester, regardless of traveling via flight or vehicle. There is a higher risk of developing pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia, preterm labor, and high blood pressure later in pregnancy. Because of this, you will want to make sure your ob/gyn or midwife thinks travel is safe for you. It is typically fine to travel until 36 weeks of pregnancy in a healthy pregnancy, but your provider may want to discuss certain warning signs or symptoms with you before you go. In the 3rd trimester, I think it is especially important to have a copy of your medical records with you and a plan in place for where you will go in case your membranes release or labor starts while you are out of town. A situation like that is always stressful for you and your family, but it is easier on everyone if you have a plan.
The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration, filled with love and togetherness. I hope these tips give you the confidence to enjoy these moments to their fullest while maintaining a healthy pregnancy. Happy Holidays to you all!
- Jones, E. Holiday Travel Survey 2021 -- How Many to Travel, Comfort Level, Virtual Holidays, Holidays with Unvaccinated or People you Dislike. The Vacationer. November 28, 2021. Accessed December 12, 2021. https://thevacationer.com/holiday-travel-survey-2021/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. December 21, 2020. Accessed December 12, 2021. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/pregnant-travelers
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. August 2020. Accessed December 12, 2021. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/travel-during-pregnancy