Nothing should stop you from traveling while you’re pregnant, as long as you use a few commonsense precautions and feel you are up to the journey.
Of course, there are limits. For one, if you’re in your first trimester, you may be experiencing bouts of nausea—not an ideal condition for travel. Or you may be well into your third trimester, when travel could become problematic if baby decides to make an earlier-than-expected arrival.
But if the timing’s right, doctors say it’s perfectly safe for you to pack your bags and hit the road.
Chances are you’ll get to where you’re going by either automobile or airplane. Either way, there are strategies you can use to make the trip comfortable and safe.
By car. When driving, the number-one rule is to wear your seat belt. Just as it protects nonpregnant riders, a seat belt (and an air bag, for that matter) is priceless if you should be involved in a crash. And thanks to Mother Nature, your baby will be extremely well protected if the belt should press hard against your tummy.
To wear one correctly, place the lap belt below your abdomen and across your upper thighs. Tighten the belt till it’s firm—do not wear it loosely because you could suffer broken ribs and abdominal injuries in a crash.
If you’re driving, aim the steering wheel at your chest so that in an accident, the air bag will deploy against your upper body and not toward your baby.
During the trip, take a break every 90 minutes or so to stretch your legs and keep your circulation flowing. That will help prevent edema, in which blood settles in your feet, ankles and lower legs and causes them to swell. Whenever you’re a passenger, keep a small box at your feet to elevate your legs if necessary.
Important: If you are involved in an accident, no matter how minor, be sure to get medical help as soon as possible to rule out injury to the fetus.
By plane. Air travel has its own challenges. Just as in car travel, you’ll need to move around occasionally for comfort’s sake. Number-one rule: Always get an aisle seat on the plane—preferably the one right after the bulkhead in the front of the cabin. That seat has extra leg room.
Walk the airplane corridor once an hour to stretch your legs. While seated, wear your seat belt snugly under your abdomen.
You also should pack your own snacks and a bottle of water, cola or ginger ale to guard against nausea and dry cabin air. And wear light layers of clothes; if the plane feels too hot or cold you can remove or add a layer. Loose, nonbinding cotton or wool clothes and a pair of comfortable shoes are your best bet.
A final note of caution, whether you go by land, sea or air: As with all medicines during pregnancy, never take a motion-sickness remedy without your doctor’s approval.