Whether you’re taking a babymoon at the beach or visiting relatives for the holidays, most pregnant women will take at least one trip during the nine-month journey to motherhood. And travel is pretty safe for women with low-risk pregnancies (of course, check with her doctor first – especially if it’s not a low-risk pregnancy).
Still, travel while pregnant can be very different than travel before the bump. Between having to use the restroom twice an hour to concerns over early labor, it’s a good idea to plan ahead so she can relax with some essential tips to help her stay safe and comfortable. See these tips for making her trip more comfortable and safe while she’s pregnant.
The first trimester may be peppered with nausea and morning sickness for many women. In the third trimester, she’s starting to get a little bigger and uncomfortable, so the second trimester – the one in the middle – is often the best time for pregnant women to travel. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule and every pregnancy is different, but the second trimester is usually the easiest one for moms-to-be to hit the road one last time before baby arrives.
Especially when she’s pregnant, you’ll want to be sure the destination is as safe as possible. That means safe drinking water, good air quality, low risk of foodborne diseases, etc. Consulting her doctor is the best way to ensure that the country where you are visiting is safe while she’s pregnant. Another good rule of thumb is to avoid traveling to countries where travel vaccinations are required while pregnant.
Whether she’s traveling by car, by plane, or by train, it’s important to always have some healthy snacks and fluids on hand. A woman is more likely to become severely hungry and dehydrated when she’s carrying a baby, so it’s important to have what she needs on hand. Of course, this also means she’ll likely need to use the restroom more often, so asking for an aisle seat on the plane and knowing how far it is to the next rest area is a good idea too.
See our Safe Drinking Water Tips for Travelers to ensure the water she’s drinking is safe.
A pregnant woman’s body is already working hard creating a new person, so she’s likely to tire more easily. Packing as light as possible will save her the trouble of dragging a heavy suitcase and having to do multiple loads of laundry upon return. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear comfortable, simple attire and even wear the same outfit for several days. At this point, it’s important for her to relax and keep stress levels low. Make sure she tries on swimwear and other outfits just before leaving too – it’s not worth trying to squeeze into something that’s suddenly too small!
See our Tips to Lighten your Load on your Next Trip for more information.
A pregnant woman is at a much higher risk of blood clots from sitting for long periods of time. She’ll be safer and feel better if she stretches and moves around as often as possible. When she’s on a road trip, walking around the rest area for a few minutes and stretching often in the car will help.
See our Tips for Making Long Flights More Comfortable for some great advice for plane travel too.
We’ve recommended before that travelers have a travel medical portfolio and keep it updated. A travel medical portfolio is very simply a person’s medical record so that emergency responders know about any medical conditions, allergies, etc. If she is unable to speak for herself for any reason, it’s critical that those taking care of her know she’s pregnant as well as knowing any other medical conditions and/or allergies. If she’s in a car accident, for example, and allergic to penicillin, a well-intentioned injection could cost her her life or potentially harm the baby.
See our Tips to Create a Simple, Effective Travel Medical Portfolio for more information.
While it may sound a little dull, it’s important to apply some good common sense to the activities she does while pregnant. For example, avoiding activities that put her at risk of falling such as snowboarding, waterskiing, wind surfing, etc. Scuba diving is out because air bubbles can form in her bloodstream and be transferred to the baby. Amusement park rides and water slides are out due to the sudden acceleration and stops. It’s also wise to stay out of hot tubs and saunas because the extreme heat isn’t good for the baby.
A quick call to her doctor’s office will assure you whether an activity is safe if you’re unsure.
She may feel tired more often than she does normally, so taking short breaks and putting her feet up often will help. Her body is working hard to grow the baby and carrying extra weight is tough, so taking breaks whenever she feels tired is a great way to ensure she’s comfortable and less stressed on the trip. Usually, a short break, a little snack, and some water is all that’s needed for her to be ready to continue.
We’ve recommended that travelers carry a travel medical kit with the most common medicines they may need while traveling. When she’s pregnant, she may need to add a few items like anti-nausea bands, her prenatal vitamins, and more so take the time to review the travel medical kit and think about what she may need on the trip – especially if you’re traveling overseas and are unsure you’ll be able to obtain what she needs.
See What’s in your Travel Medical Kit for some starting advice and add the new things she needs – remove those she can’t have now due to the pregnancy.
In general, travel insurance excludes coverage for pregnancy and childbirth because an existing pregnancy – as you might expect – is considered a pre-existing condition and therefore not covered. But don’t panic yet – she can get travel medical coverage for this trip.
While most travel insurance plans will not cover the pregnancy itself, she will have coverage for medical expenses that are the result of complications of pregnancy. For example, if she becomes severely dehydrated due to morning sickness while pregnant and has to visit a foreign hospital for treatment, her medical costs will be covered because her condition is due to a complication of her pregnancy. You must make sure that the travel insurance plan specifically states it will cover complications of pregnancy, so read your plan carefully.
Most of all, a pregnant woman should enjoy being the center of attention when she’s pregnant. In many countries, she’ll be treated like royalty, invited to jump ahead in the lines, and more. Enjoy it, thank everyone for their kindness, and remember to pay it forward later when you encounter another pregnant traveler.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.