If a woman is experiencing an uncomplicated pregnancy it is safe for her to travel over the holidays, but there are some best practices patients should abide by, said a Baylor College of Medicine obstetrician and gynecologist expert.
“The best time for pregnant patients to travel is between 14 and 30 weeks because that is when complications are less likely to occur. After 30 weeks, comfort and the ability to sit for long periods of time may become difficult,” said Dr. Kelly Hodges, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor,
Bringing snacks and drinks on a trip are always a good idea, but there are more specific traveling guidelines depending on the mode of transportation.
Airplane travel, both domestic and international, is safe during pregnancy. Most domestic airlines restrict travel after 36 weeks and international travel can be even earlier.
Hodges recommended that pregnant women stretch and do the leg and ankle exercises recommended by the airline (instructions are usually found in the seat pocket) while flying because, although rare, pregnancy increases the chance of developing blood clots. Support hose can help minimize the risk as well.
In addition, pregnant women should take more care while moving around the cabin because balance can be off while mid-flight.
It also is important to stay hydrated, but Hodges said soft drinks can cause problems.
“I recommend my patients avoid carbonated beverages while flying because the carbonation can expand in the intestines and feel uncomfortable,” she said.
Traveling by boat
Same as with air travel, walking while on a boat can be difficult, and Hodges urges patients to take extra care as to not fall or bump their belly.
If women are worried about experiencing sea sickness they should contact their doctor about acceptable medication.
Traveling by car also is doable while pregnant. It is best to keep a day’s travel between five and six hours, taking bathroom and exercise breaks along the way.
Hodges said all travelers should adhere to industry safety guidelines, including wearing seatbelts and, if applicable, life vests, while traveling.
In addition, it is best to find a reputable hospital at your vacation destination in the event that an emergency were to arise.
While it is safe to travel during an uncomplicated pregnancy, Hodges said she always tells her patients to use their best judgment.
“If you’re not feeling well or having contractions, assess the situation and consider not going because your health is most important,” she explained.