Traveling During Pregnancy

It is usually safe to travel during most of your pregnancy with some precautions. However, the safest time to travel is in the second trimester (13–27 weeks) as your pregnancy is well established and your delivery is remote. Most physicians caution against travel in the last four weeks of pregnancy because of the increased probability of labor starting.

Author’s Note and True Story: One of my patients traveled from Lawton, OK, to Killeen, TX, five days prior to her scheduled C-section. Of course, she experienced a problem: she ruptured her membranes while visiting her fiancé at Fort Hood. She had to be delivered there by a physician she never met until just prior to surgery.

Please do not travel during the last few days or weeks of pregnancy unless you have notified your physician and a true family emergency exists. The patient should obtain a copy of her OB records if she must leave town at this time.

Travel in the first trimester can be difficult: motion may cause increased nausea. Further, you may not travel far without resorting to frequent pit stops to empty your bladder!

Another Author's Note and True Story: When I was a younger doctor, I traveled to an Obstetrics Conference in Maui, Hawaii. A group of us decided to take the 25 mile “Road to Hana.” Dr. Branch’s wife, Martha, was early pregnant at the time: because of all the twists and turns in the road, we had to stop frequently for her to get out of the car and “hurl” in the bushes by the roadside. It was not a very pleasant road trip and by the time we got to Hana, the water falls had already closed. It was now 5:30 PM and we were getting pretty hungry (except Martha!). We entered the only restaurant in town which was open. As we walked into the foyer, we saw that the place was completely empty: there were no other diners sitting in the restaurant at all! We asked for a table but the host turned us down: apparently there was a “dress code” and a group of doctors in Hawaiian shirts and shorts was not appropriate for their eating establishment!

It is important, whether traveling by car or plane, that you move your legs frequently and flex your muscles so that you can avoid leg/feet swelling and worse yet, possible blood clots forming in your legs.

If you are traveling to other countries, it is best to check with your OB or your family physician regarding appropriate vaccinations and other protective injections that you may need. The CDC and other health organizations may have recommended guidelines prior to your entry into the specific country.