Safe traveling by car or plane when pregnant

Traveling when you are pregnant can definitely cause some stress. With the warm weather in full swing traveling is now more common as people prepare for vacations or business trips. When you are pregnant and are traveling there are a few things you need to be aware of. Although in most circumstances, traveling is completely safe during your pregnancy, however it is best to get the majority of your traveling before your second trimester. During the first few weeks, you will most likely experience motion sickness and fatigue. And, during the last few months you really don’t want to go too far from the hospital where you plan to deliver.

Seat belts

Seat belts protect you and your baby from injury and death. Wearing seatbelt is extremely important and studies show that fetal death occurs 3 times higher in women that did not wear the seat belt properly. Seat belts should be placed under your belly and the shoulder belt should be positioned between your breasts, to the side of the uterus, and over the middle portion of the shoulder. The seat belts should not be over your pregnant belly because improper use can cause a seatbelt injury.

Airbags

Airbags are safety devices found on the steering wheel or dashboard of newer cars. Car accidents account for 66% of all traumas in a pregnant woman, with many causes of injury related to the steering wheel, dashboard. To help prevent some of these injuries, cars now have safety airbags. The benefits of an airbag are much higher than the risks you face when you don’t use them, and unless your healthcare provider has specifically told you to turn off your airbag, you should keep it in good working condition at all times. If you are concerned, you can tilt your seat back a bit to get some distance between you and the steering wheel but you should never turn off the airbag.

Car accidents

If you are in a car accident, even a small one, you should always tell your healthcare provider. Many injuries that occur to the baby can happen hours after the car accident and notifying your healthcare provider is essential.

Traveling by airplane in the third trimester

One of the biggest concerns healthcare providers have when a pregnant woman asks if it is safe to travel is the chance that a woman can go into labor when away or on a plane. Most airlines will not allow you to travel after 35 or 36 weeks because of the risk you may go into labor. If you are traveling later in your pregnancy, check to make sure that medical resources are available, such as where the nearest hospital/healthcare facility is and if they care for pregnant women. If it is necessary for you to travel late in your pregnancy, it’s a good idea to request a copy of your medical records, this way if you do go into labor the person who will be providing care as quick and easy access to your medical records.

International travel

Talk to your healthcare provider before you travel internationally. Many international countries have exceptional healthcare for women that are pregnant. However, some countries do not and there could be certain risks that you or your baby could face, depending on your destination. You should discuss with your healthcare provider where you are planning to travel so that you can prepare ahead of time. You may also need additional immunizations to travel, and you should always keep a copy of your medical history with you in the event that you experience any medical problems while away from home.

Blood clots

One of the biggest health risks when traveling when pregnant for long periods of time is blood clots. If you are sitting in a car or plane for extended time periods the blood in your veins can pool and cause stasis which means you are at a risk for a blood clot. Blood clots are very serious and one way to help reduce the risk of having blood pools in your veins or stasis is to make sure you get up from a seated position at least every 1-2 hours and walk around. If you are in a a plane, you may need to leave your seat and walk up and down the aisles a few times. If you are in a car and driving a long distance, be sure to stop frequently at rest stations to get out and stretch and walk around. This will allow the blood to flow in a more normal way, reducing the risk for stasis or pooling which lead to a deadly blood clot.

Hope you have a safe travel!