Healthy and safe travel during pregnancy
Expecting mothers: know before you go
By Alexandra DiMatteo, MD
Boulder Medical Center
Obstetrics and Gynecology Department
The holiday season is approaching and many expectant mothers in my obstetrics practice are planning to travel outside of Boulder County, the state, and even the country. Consequently, they are wondering how to stay healthy and safe while traveling to see friends and family. Here are a few of my recommendations:
Know before you go
In short, if you and your baby are healthy, traveling should be safe as long as you follow some basic guidelines:
- The best time to travel is mid-pregnancy, as most of the common pregnancy problems occur during the first and third trimesters. Also, your energy has returned, nausea has improved, and mobility is still fairly easy in the second trimester;
- Pack medications to keep yourself comfortable including: anti-nausea medications, especially if you get motion sickness; hemorrhoid ointment if necessary; and prenatal vitamins;
- If you are traveling outside of the United States, make sure that your immunizations are up-to-date, especially Hepatitis A. Click here for additional information about Hepatitis A, travel, and pregnancy;
- When making your travel plans, be sure you know where the closest hospitals are throughout your journey and at your destination;
- If you are planning to travel international, consider registering with the United States Embassy or Consulate in case you experience an emergency.
Choose the best mode of travel
Expectant mothers often ask if it’s safer to drive or fly while pregnant. My response is that choosing the fastest way to get to their destination is usually best during pregnancy. One of the reasons is that long periods of sitting can put you at higher risk of blood clots. Here are a few suggestions for flying when pregnant:
- Traveling by airplane is generally considered safe when you are pregnant. However, avoid air travel during pregnancy if you have a medical condition that could be exacerbated by flying, or if you might require urgent medical attention during your trip for conditions such as preterm labor, seizure disorders, and preeclampsia. Be sure to ask your doctor before making travel plans;
- Most airlines require that you complete all legs of your flight before 36 weeks. Some may require a doctor’s note stating your due date and that you are safe to travel. International travel may be restricted after 28 to 32 weeks, so check before you book your flight.
Wear your seatbelts properly
Whether you’re traveling by car or airplane, be sure to wear your seatbelt every time. Wearing seatbelts is safe while pregnant but must be done properly. A few tips:
- The lap belt should be placed below your belly touching your thighs, sitting low, flat, and snug on your hip bones;
- The shoulder strap should sit between your breasts and off to the side of your belly;
- Never wear a seatbelt above or across your belly while pregnant.
Listen to your body
The holidays can be rushed and hectic. No matter your mode of travel, set aside time to be still, breathe, and listen to your body.
- While making your travel plan, include time for a short walk every hour or two to breathe and relax. Regular walking also helps prevent blood clots and allows you to empty your bladder, which most pregnant women need to do frequently;
- Stay well-hydrated and wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots;
- When flying, avoid carbonated drinks, as the gas expands and can be quite uncomfortable.
With two clinics located in Boulder and Longmont, Colo., Dr. DiMatteo’s OB-GYN practice focuses on care for women in all seasons of their lives. She provides initial discussions about birth control through childbirth and menopause; ongoing care during pregnancy, labor and childbirth; high-risk pregnancies; postpartum care; menopause; and diseases and conditions that affect the female reproductive system.
Dr. DiMatteo is dedicated to fostering a safe environment that guarantees respect, dignity and compassionate care fort all patients regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. “I want my patients to feel welcome and comfortable with me so that we can build a relationship of trust and mutual respect,” she explains. “Through this relationship we can learn from each other and work together at maintaining and improving patient health.”
With a background that includes women’s studies along with her path through medical school and residency that focused on obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. DiMatteo is passionate about helping women stay healthy and strong while supporting their efforts to keep their families healthy. “I am convinced that supporting women and families helps build stronger communities,” she explains.
Dr. DiMatteo and her husband are avid world travelers and outdoors enthusiasts. They enjoy rock climbing, camping, backpacking, hiking, and their two rescue pups, Giorgio, a mini-schnauzer and Bryn, a terrier-mix.
To learn more about Dr. DiMatteo:
- Click here for Dr. DiMatteo’s profile
- Call (303) 938-4710 to make an appointment with Dr. DiMatteo
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.