Traveling in Your Third Trimester – What You Need to Know

Traveling in Your Third Trimester – What You Need to Know

Pregnancy can feel like it comes with a lot of restrictions. You’ve already given up sushi and runny eggs, but do you have to give up traveling too? For most of your pregnancy, traveling, even by plane, isn’t typically an issue. But when you reach your third trimester, things can be a little more complicated.

If you’re trying to plan a trip that’s getting close to your due date, there are a few things you should consider. In this article, we’re going to answer some of the most common questions people have about traveling late in pregnancy.

What Is the Safest Time to Travel During Pregnancy?

The second trimester is widely considered the safest time to travel during pregnancy. Many of the risks of your first trimester will have passed by then, as well as some of the more challenging symptoms. However, the risk of the third trimester, such as the risk of preterm delivery, hasn’t kicked in yet.

If you have certain pregnancy complications, your doctor may advise that you avoid any kind of travel or physical strain in your third trimester. In a healthy pregnancy, it is possible to travel in the last stage of your pregnancy, but only up until the month before your due date. At that point, doctors agree it’s best to stay home.

Part of this is not wanting to risk going into labor in an unfamiliar place, where you’re unsure where the closest labor and delivery center is. Having doctors and midwives who know you will help you be more comfortable and safer during your delivery. Of course, even if you’re traveling earlier in your pregnancy, emergencies happen and we have some tips for being prepared for that later on.

Road Trips and Train Travel

It’s recommended to restrict long-term over-land travel during your third trimester. Again, that final month before you’re due should be spent resting and preparing. While traveling by car or train isn’t as restrictive as flying, there are still some considerations you need to make when traveling later in your pregnancy.

More Comfortable Road Trips

In the third trimester, your little one is likely pressing on your bladder a lot. So, working in plenty of rest stops while driving will be essential. These will also give you the opportunity to stretch your legs a bit to improve circulation and prevent cramping. You’re at an increased risk for blood clots during pregnancy, so stretch and flex regularly, even between stops.

Make sure you’re wearing loose and comfortable clothing in light layers and never skip your seat belt. It can be a pain, but in case of an accident, it can protect you and your baby from serious injury. Wear it under your belly, snugly across your pelvis.

Pack plenty of snacks and drinks. Even though drinking more will make you stop more, dehydration is dangerous at this late stage of your pregnancy. Besides, more pit stops mean more chances to move your body.

More Comfortable Train Trips

When you’re running on a train timetable, you want to always make sure everything is prepared ahead of time and you’re running early so that you don’t have to rush. Even if the train is late, at least you won’t be. Don’t stress yourself out or risk unnecessary jostling by other people trying to rush to board as well.

Packing a few essentials can help make train travel more comfortable too. Of course, snacks and drinks are essential. Anything that’s available in the stations or on the train itself is likely to be overpriced and not very healthy. A few bottles of water always come in handy on the go. Pack a small pillow (or two) to make train seats a little more comfortable and give you extra support wherever you need it. If you get motion sickness, be sure to pack anti-nausea medication that’s been approved by your doctor.

Make sure you know where the bathroom is on the train if you’re taking a long journey. Get up and walk whenever you can, but if a train makes any intermediary stops, don’t get out unless you know you’ll have enough time to get back on. Rushing to catch a train is no fun when pregnant.

Taking a Cruise While Pregnant

While a cruise may seem like a relaxing babymoon activity, if you’re in your third trimester, it’s off-limits. Major cruise lines bar pregnant passengers from traveling with them if they are over the 24-week mark in their pregnancy or will pass it during the duration of the cruise.

Quite simply, cruises don’t have the medical equipment and staff available to provide the care you might need. They won’t be able to sufficiently care for a premature newborn or a mom with complications. The risk of preterm labor in your third trimester makes cruise ships, isolated in the ocean for long stretches of time, a no-go.
woman traveling by the sea

Even earlier in your pregnancy, many doctors don’t recommend cruises. They’re notorious for putting you at risk for food poisoning and other illnesses. So many people crammed in such a small area makes it easy for viruses and bacteria to spread. Besides that, seasickness can compound any nausea you’re already experiencing from your changing hormone levels.

Air Travel in Your Third Trimester

Flying while pregnant is a lot more touchy than over-land travel. Some women may worry if it’s safe to fly at all during pregnancy, let alone in the third trimester. Fortunately, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has a full list of frequently asked questions when it comes to expectant mothers and travel to bust some of those myths from a medical standpoint.

If you have a lower-risk pregnancy, you can travel until about one month before your due date. However, certain conditions can make it riskier for you. If you’re carrying twins or triplets, that can make travel more difficult and dangerous after your second trimester. You should always consult with your doctor if you’re planning on traveling after your 24th week.

Certain airlines may also have policies about pregnant passengers. Be sure to contact them in advance to see if they have any sort of cut off for allowing women in later stages of pregnancy to fly with them. Some airlines may also make special accommodations for their pregnant passengers, so letting them know in advance can help smooth the process. If they offer you early boarding or a ride in a wheelchair to catch a connecting flight, take advantage of it and save yourself unnecessary strain.

You also may be asked to provide a note from your doctor approving your air travel if you are getting close to your due date.

Making Flights Safer and More Comfortable

While pressurized cabins aren’t dangerous for pregnant women, traveling at high altitudes while stuck in a cramped seat for hours isn’t ideal. Discomfort can be rampant on flights even when you’re not pregnant.

Avoiding Cramps and Blood Clots

Your legroom will be limited, so it can be hard to keep your circulation flowing. Most airlines will include a card in the seat with some stretches and exercises you can do to help prevent cramps and blood clots while flying. Try to practice them at regular intervals during the flight. Get up regularly to walk along the aisle and stretch a little when you can. You can even ask your partner to massage your legs for you.

Wearing compression socks or stockings can also be helpful. If you’re suffering from varicose veins or edema, gentle compression can help reduce or prevent swelling and pain. They can fight gravity to keep blood from pooling in your feet and ankles, letting it flow back up more efficiently. Elevating your feet on the bar in front of you or on your carry-on under the seat also helps.

Finally, think about booking a strategic seat on the plane in advance so you can have legroom and easy access to the toilet.

Stay Hydrated

Plane cabins are very dry and beverage service doesn’t always come around as often as you may need. Dehydration can cause a number of unpleasant physical symptoms including cramping that can easily be misinterpreted as premature labor pains.

After you pass through security, you can stop and buy a few water bottles at a newsstand in the airport. For a more economical and eco-friendly option, you can pack a few empty water bottles and fill them at a safe drinking fountain.

Drink your packed water throughout the flight, but also take advantage of complimentary beverages that are offered. While it might be tempting to pep yourself up with some coffee and tea before landing, caffeinated drinks aren’t nearly as hydrating as plain water.

Anticipate Temperature Fluctuations

Despite the claim that airplane cabins are temperature-controlled, dressing for your flight can feel like a gamble. Sometimes, you can be freezing, but on your connecting flight, you might be roasting. Dressing in light layers that can be added and subtracted as needed is wise. An oversized scarf is your best friend. It’s easy to tuck into your bag and can be draped over you as an extra blanket or bunched up as a pillow.

You’ll also probably want to wear comfortable slip-on shoes. Not only will it save you trying to tie your shoes again after a security check, but you can slip them off in the cabin if your feet get hot or start to swell a bit. You can skip wearing socks, but pack some in case you start to feel cold.

Preparing to Safely Enjoy Your Trip

Safely traveling is all about preparation. If you’re going to be traveling later in your pregnancy, you should make sure that you have everything arranged in advance, not just your transportation.

Medical Info

Make sure that you know where the nearest medical facilities are to where you’re staying. Not every hospital has an obstetrics department, so make sure you know where there is one. It might also be good to know where the nearest pharmacy is and what over-the-counter medications are available. Pack your usual medications, but also be aware of what’s available where you’re going and what it’s called there if there is a language difference.

Pack all of your important medical documents. A note from your doctor is advisable, even if your airline doesn’t require it. Pack a copy of any of your prescriptions as well and always keep a document stating any allergies and have an emergency contact listed.

Investing in travel insurance can also save you some headaches. If you need to visit a local doctor, it can get expensive without insurance and you’d hate to have a huge bill to pay once you arrive home. Some travel insurance can also reimburse you in case of lost luggage or canceled flights, but the premium is higher.

Choose Your Location Carefully

You’ll want to choose a vacation destination that is going to be safe and comfortable for you and your baby. Now isn’t the time for backpacking around and drinking out of streams.

You’ll want to avoid traveling to locations that put you at risk for illnesses that could be dangerous to your baby. For example, you’ll want to steer clear of regions experiencing Zika outbreaks. This disease, while not typically dangerous to adults, can cause serious complications for a developing fetus.

Picking a destination with reasonable amenities is important as well. Having access to clean, filtered water is essential. Staying in a space that’s temperature-controlled is also a good idea. In fact, you might want to steer clear of going to a climate that’s hotter and more humid than what you’re used to. This puts your body under more stress and puts you at a higher risk for dehydration.
woman on beach

Rest and Hydrate

Traveling can take a lot out of you. It’s exhausting even when you’re not pregnant, but when all your energy is going toward growing your baby, you can be even more sapped. If you’re factoring in a timezone change on top of that, it can really crank up the pressure.

It might be tempting to try and pack in as much sight-seeing as possible, especially since you may not be able to travel much during the first year or two of your baby’s life. But a babymoon or vacation while you’re pregnant is better suited for relaxing and enjoying time with your partner than sticking to a busy agenda. Make sure you get enough sleep and rest your body throughout the day.

It’s also important to regularly eat and especially to drink. Finding clean, healthy food and drink options in an unfamiliar city can be a challenge. Before heading out for the day, you might want to pack a few bottles of water and some healthy snacks (like fruit or granola) so that whenever you need a break, you don’t have to search too much.

Remember that drinking enough (mostly water, try to avoid wine) is very important to staying healthy and avoiding possible complications. Research in advance about water safety where you’ll be traveling. In some places, it’s recommended to filter or even boil water before drinking, so you can’t refill your bottle directly from the tap.

Safely on the Go After Week 24

If your doctor okays it, you can travel up until one month before your due date. Just be sure to prepare in advance and take things slow. Having a little babymoon to unwind with your partner can be a great way to prepare for your little one’s arrival.

You may not be able to travel as spontaneously or adventurously as you might have in the past, but be patient with yourself and enjoy a little break. Be sure to listen to your body, resting and eating whenever you need. With those precautions in mind, you can enjoy a trip even in the later stages of pregnancy.

About the Author

Odessa Denby

Odessa Denby is a writer from Pennsylvania. Her work has appeared in various online and print publications. She spent several years teaching English abroad, working with children of all ages, and is deeply interested in childhood development, particularly when it comes to linguistics. She is now raising a cat with her husband in New York and in her spare time makes YouTube videos about creating your own clothing. Encouraging sustainable consumption is her passion.

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