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Travel During Pregnancy

Overview

Travel during pregnancy generally is safe if you're healthy and not at risk for problems. The safest time to travel is between 18 and 24 weeks, when your risks for miscarriage and early labour are lowest. Check with your doctor before you travel. Ask your doctor which vaccines you may need before travelling.

Traveling by car

You will probably be able to travel by car throughout your pregnancy if you're having no problems. But talk to your doctor or midwife before you take any long car trips.

  • Always wear your seat belt.
    • Strap the lower belt across your lap, under your belly. Remove any slack in the seat belt.
    • Run the shoulder belt between your breasts and around (not over) your belly.
  • Use air bags properly.
    • Slide the seat as far back as possible. Tilt the seat back slightly to increase the distance between your chest and the air bag to 25 cm (10 in.) or more.
    • Do not turn off the air bags.
  • Try not to drive for more than 4 hours a day.
  • On long trips, take bathroom breaks and short walks at least every 2 hours.
    • This helps increase the blood circulation in your legs and reduce bladder pressure.

    • Consider wearing compression stockings.
  • Carry a written record of your due date and any medical conditions you have.

Traveling by air

A good time to fly during pregnancy is between 18 and 24 weeks. Morning sickness has usually improved by this time, and you can still move around easily. The risk of miscarriage or preterm labour is also lower during your second trimester.

  • Talk to your doctor or midwife before you fly or take any extended trip.
  • Check with the airline for its requirements before you book a flight.

    Some airlines restrict flying during the third trimester.

  • Carry written documentation of your due date.

    Some airlines ask to see this information.

  • Choose an aisle seat if possible.

    This will make it easier to move around the plane.

  • Wear your seat belt across your lap, under your belly.

    Keep your seat belt fastened as much as possible in case of turbulence.

  • Take a few walks while on a long flight.

    This will increase blood circulation in your legs.

  • Avoid air travel if:
    • You've reached your 36th week of pregnancy.
    • You have a placenta-related problem or have risk factors for early (preterm) labour.
    • Your doctor has advised against flying, based on your medical history or current condition.

The amount of cosmic radiation that's considered safe during pregnancy is 1 millisievert (mSv).footnote 1 An occasional airline flight doesn't pose a risk. But you could get more than this amount if you fly often on business or as an airline employee. Be sure to talk about your risk with your doctor or midwife.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2018). Air travel during pregnancy. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 746. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 132(2): e533-e534. DOI: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000002758. Accessed November 4, 2020.

Credits

Current as of: June 16, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
W. David Colby IV MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

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