Traveling While Pregnant {What’s the Big Deal?}

Something I get asked about often (especially during the holidays) is travel during pregnancy.

“How far can I drive? When should I stop going on trips? Am I too far along to fly?”

The answer is… there is no quick answer.

Generally, in a healthy pregnancy, most providers will say once you’ve reached 36-37 weeks, don’t travel more than 2 hours away from your location of delivery.

But Why?!

There are a few reasons.
1- The longer a pregnant mama is in a seated position circulation becomes more and more difficult for her body. Remember that you’re toting around 1.5 times as much blood right now. There’s a higher risk for blood clotting issues when you’re not able to mobilize and get your blood flowing evenly through your body. So to avoid this, many providers will recommend that you stop every hour at least to walk around for 5-10 minutes.

2- For your average person, traveling over mountain passes is no big deal. For a traveler who is carrying an extra passenger in her uterus {ahem, pregnant women} mountain passes can be a contraction inducer. Think of a bag of chips… When you’re at higher elevations, that bag expands and stretches to it’s maximum. When you begin descending from those higher elevations it begins to shrink back down. Similarly, your uterus can expand with pressure as you go up in elevation. When you’re coming back down those hills your uterus begins to shrink back down. That action can trigger contractions. This doesn’t mean that you will go into labor, but at a certain point in pregnancy, a few strong contractions can definitely get things moving. And the last thing a provider wants is for their patients to be delivering on the side of the freeway in the dead of winter. Air travel is a bit less of a concern for this because the plane cabin pressurizes to help reduce the pressure changes with elevation.

3- Some insurances will not cover services outside of a specific area. If you’re close to the end of your pregnancy, there’s a chance you could go into labor, and need to travel, it’s a good idea to check with your insurance company to see if you would be covered should you end up delivering and being hospitalized in a city away from your own.

Also… keep in mind that MOST airlines get veeerrrryy nervous about a woman past 36 weeks pregnant on an airplane. Some may even request that you have a signed clearance from a provider. It’s not that they hate pregnant women, it’s that delivering a baby on a plane can not only be a little uncomfortable {for you!} but making an emergency landing for a crowing woman in labor can get pretty costly. Not to mention the situations where a little more medical attention is required and there’s no one there to provide it.

At any rate, whether you’re close to delivery or not, it’s always a great idea to talk with your provider if you have plans for travel. They may have some really great pointers for you for successful and comfortable travel. Whether you’re flying, driving, taking a train, or hiking {I don’t recommend hiking too far from home later in pregnancy} listen to what your body is telling you and if something tells you to stop, then do it. You know what your body needs and you can make sound judgements based on that.

Au Revoir and Happy Trails!!

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