Although it can be perfectly safe to travel during your pregnancy, you’ll need to do some extra planning and take a few added precautions. Here’s a checklist of things to do before you hit the road:
1. Consult your healthcare provider
Ask your doctor or midwife whether there are any medical concerns you need to worry about or upcoming tests you need to work around, or whether you’re actually okay to travel, period. High-risk pregnancies need extra TLC, which may prohibit travel.
2. Consider your prenatal test schedule
Time your travel around any prenatal tests you want or need to schedule. The following tests are typically performed during the specified weeks of pregnancy: chorionic villus sampling (CVS) (10 to 12 weeks); amniocentesis (15 to 18 weeks); multiple marker screening (15 to 20 weeks); ultrasound (16 to 20 weeks); glucose screening test (GCT) (24 to 28 weeks); group B strep screening (35 to 37 weeks). (And if you’re Rh-negative, you’ll need your shot of Rh immunoglobulin at 28 weeks.) If you decide to have one or more of these tests, allow time to get the results — and strategize next steps, if appropriate — before leaving on an extended trip.
3. Gather your medical records and vital health information
Before you leave, prepare a list of key names and phone numbers you’ll need in case of emergency and pack it in your carry-on luggage. If you are in your second or third trimester, bring along a copy of your prenatal chart, too, and keep it with you at all times during your trip. The chart should include your age, your last menstrual period, your due date, the number and outcomes of any prior pregnancies, your risk factors for disease, pregnancy-related lab tests and ultrasounds, your medical and surgical history, and a flow sheet of vital signs taken at each visit. If you’re planning an extended visit, have your healthcare provider refer you to someone in the area for check-ups or emergencies.
4. Make sure you have all the medications you need
Be careful to pack a sufficient supply of prescription medications, prenatal vitamins, and even over-the-counter remedies you may need during your trip — especially if you’re going someplace where those medications aren’t readily available. It’s a good idea to keep prescription medicine in its original container, so if your bags are searched it will be clear that you’re not using medication without a prescription.
5. Check your health insurance policy
Find out if it covers pregnancy complications during travel to your intended destinations (particularly if they include foreign countries). If not, you may want to purchase additional insurance.
6. Buy travel insurance
This special insurance covers expenses if you miss all or part of your trip, or run up emergency expenses on the road. Make sure the policy covers pregnancy complications as well as emergency medical transport from your chosen destination(s).
7. Prepare for the unexpected
If you haven’t already, join an auto club that provides road service in case your car breaks down or has a flat tire. Carry the phone numbers for any airlines you’ll be using in case you need to confirm or reschedule flights. And always carry a cell phone, especially if you’re traveling alone.
8. If flying in your third trimester, check your airline’s policies
Although rules vary, many airlines don’t allow pregnant women to fly during the last week or month of their pregnancy without a note from their healthcare provider. Airline regulations aside, most healthcare providers discourage travel after 36 weeks unless it’s absolutely necessary.