The holiday season is a time for families to get together and celebrate; many of my OB patients find themselves traveling during this season and wonder about the possible effects this will have on their pregnancy. While I always encourage them enjoy their time with loved ones, there are a few things to keep in mind for the safety of you and your growing baby.
If you are planning on flying, always check with your OBGYN to ensure there is no medical or obstetrical contraindication to you flying; many OBGYNs will discourage flying sometime during the third trimester. To avoid hassle at the airport, check your airline’s terms before booking your flight as some airlines may have a restriction on gestational age or require a doctor’s note. Generally, the second trimester is the easiest trimester in which to fly. While there is no harm associated with travel during the first trimester, many women choose not to travel during this time as changes in altitude or temperature can trigger or worsen nausea and morning sickness.
Whether you are driving or flying, keep these things in mind:
- Wear your seatbelt across your pelvic and under your bump to avoid any trauma to your baby. Most airlines keep seatbelt extenders on board if the belt feels too tight.
- Pregnancy increases the risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) as does long car rides or flights. Some tips for prevention:
- Drink lots of fluids, preferably water. Flying is dehydrating, and increasing your fluid intake will not only decrease the risk of DVT, but also help with your general well-being.
- Simple leg exercises performed once an hour while sitting increases circulation and helps prevent blood from pooling in your legs.
- If possible, try to get up and walk at least once an hour. Your pregnancy bladder may be your best reminder!
- Compression hose can be an extra precaution against DVT; you can buy these at any pharmacy or drug store.
- Choosing an aisle seat gives you more room and allows for easier access to the aisle for walking and bathroom breaks.
- Many patients worry about the effects of cosmic radiation from flying. However, it is not scientifically known to be problematic during pregnancy, and is unlikely to be an issue for the infrequent flyer; you would need to take 12 round trip cross country flights to exceed the recommended limit of radiation during pregnancy.
- Sanitation wipes are a good idea for all travelers, but I strongly encourage these for moms-to-be.
- Avoid salty foods – these cause water retention which is already more common at higher altitudes.
- For those that are driving while pregnant, be sure to map out hospitals on your route to be prepared for emergencies or unexpected events.
Increase your likelihood of a smooth and stress free journey with these few, easy precautions.
** This blog post was written to provide guidance and potential risks associated with traveling during pregnancy and should not be taken as concrete medical advice, nor do the views above reflect the views of Colorado Complete Health for Women or the HealthONE organization. As with any medical questions or concerns, please make an appointment with your physician to discuss your own personal situation and treatment options.
Sz-Min Harley is a board eligible physician in obstetrics and gynecology at Colorado Complete Health for Women. Her favorite part of being an OBGYN is having the opportunity to grow with her patients as they move through all phases of life from adolescence to childbirth to menopause. She believes strongly in patient education and personalized care for each individual regardless of background. Dr. Harley specializes in both routine and high-risk obstetric care, adolescent care and education, as well as medical and surgical management of gynecologic conditions, including minimally invasive surgery using the da Vinci robotic system.