Traveling Pregnant

Travel Clinics of America - Traveling while pregnant

Travel during pregnancy

A healthy woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy may be safe to travel to most destinations. However, it may be wiser to change or postpone your travel plans if your destination puts you at risk for diseases such as malaria or yellow fever. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the safest time for a pregnant woman to travel is during her second trimester (14-26 weeks). This is the time that a pregnant woman usually feels best and is in the least danger of miscarriage or premature labor.

If you are pregnant

  • Consult with your doctor or midwife before making any travel decisions. In general the greatest risk to travel in pregnancy is being far away from your medical team if symptoms develop or complications arise. In addition, in remote areas, healthcare services may not be up to the hygienic or technologic standards you are used to in the U.S.

  • Consider carrying a copy of your prenatal chart with you when you travel.

  • Schedule an appointment with a Travel Clinics of America physician early to discuss recommendations for travel vaccinations. Certain vaccines such as influenza, tetanus and pertussis are considered safe during pregnancy. Others, such as chicken pox, measles and rubella, are live vaccines and are to be avoided.

Malaria and pregnancy

It is best to avoid malaria-endemic areas while you are pregnant, since malaria during pregnancy is a high risk for both the mother and her unborn baby. If you do travel to malaria risk areas while pregnant, discuss with your physicians which medications are best for you, as many of the anti-malarial drugs are contraindicated during pregnancy.

  1. Stay indoors between dusk and dawn when malaria-carrying mosquitoes are most active.

  2. When outdoors, wear protective clothing pre-treated with permethrin.

  3. Apply mosquito repellants containing DEET (30-50%) to exposed skin avoiding eyes, lips and open cuts. Wash off with soap and water when back indoors. Wash off with soap and water when back indoors. DEET is considered safe in pregnancy.

  4. Use permethrin treated mosquito netting equipment over beds where needed.

Traveler’s Diarrhea and pregnancy

Traveler’s diarrhea, with its risk of dehydration, is a serious concern for a pregnant traveler.

  • If you develop diarrhea while traveling, use rehydrating salts dissolved in safe water to prevent dehydration.

  • Your travel physician can advise you on antibiotic and anti-diarrheal medications.

Safety advice

  • Medical care abroad

    1. Bring a first aid kit containing medications approved by your doctor for use during pregnancy.

    2. Join IAMAT for a list of English speaking doctors, clinics and hospitals. Membership is free.

    3. Evaluate your U.S. medical insurance policy coverage abroad. Verify that it covers emergency evacuation. Purchase supplemental medical insurance if necessary.

  • Flying and Pregnancy

    1. Commercial air travel poses no special risks to a healthy pregnant woman or her baby. Lowered cabin air pressure, airport metal detectors and cosmic radiation during routine flights will not harm you or your baby.

    2. 2. All airlines have policies regarding pregnancy and flying. Check with the airline before booking a flight. Some airlines may require a physician's written permission to travel.

    3. Request bulkhead or an aisle seat to give you more space.

    4. Pregnant women are more susceptible to blood clots. Walk every half hour during flight and flex your ankles frequently to prevent DVT.

    5. Fasten the safety belt under your abdomen across the top of your thighs.

    6. Drink plenty of fluids. Low humidity in the cabin increases the risk of dehydration.

For further information on travel in pregnancy, see The Working Woman's Pregnancy Book by Marjorie Greenfield MD and's article on Air Travel and Pregnancy.

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