Traveling While Pregnant
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Flying to Hawaii at 33 weeks
Dec 2007 Does anyone have experience flying at 33 weeks pregnant? My husband and I are hoping to fly to Maui in December for our last hoorah before our first baby comes in late January. We booked non-stop flights from Oakland to Maui. I really want to go and I get mixed reviews from friends and lots of fear from people who can't believe I'm going to get on a plane that pregnant. My midwives are supportive at this point. One friend recommended getting support pantyhose to protect against DVT. Any suggestions would be helpful? never been to Hawaii
I'd say that unless you are totally fine with the possibility of having that baby in Hawaii and flying home with a brand spanking newborn, don't do it. It is a possibility and you should be ok with that before you choose to go. Personally, I would not be ok with exposing my newborn to all of those germs (that recycled air, germy environment) or to not having my family nearby. You can take that trip in a year or so and not have to fly worried.
I flew to Venezuela at 33 weeks. My ankles swelled alot, but it isnt dangerous. I didnt use pantyhose. I would suggest the first day to not have much planned, cause if your ankles do swell (and they might not), if you dont take it easy for a day to let them recover (if the swelling isnt too bad they will go down overnight), they will stay swollen the whole trip. I was working as a videographer and had to be on my feet. It was also hot and humid, which didnt help with the swelling going down. The swelling just looks bad, it isnt dangerous.
If you can, stand up and walk around alot on the plane. Put your feet up. I did this on the way back, chatting it up with the stewardesses and the swelling was minimal. soneile
I am speaking as a mother and as a flight attendant. First of all, check with your doctor. As much as you want to have your last vacation prior to having a child, you may inconveniece other passengers if something goes wrong during the flight. There is no place to land between Oakland and Maui therefore if something happens between here and there either that plane would have to turn around or continue into Maui with no or little medical help that may put you and your unborn child into a great danger but it's my personal opinion. I say stay local. FA who is also a mother
When I was pregnant with our first child, I flew to Holland when I was 32 weeks pregnant. I stayed there for 2 weeks and flew back. I felt great and never had any no problems. Go with what you feel is right. If you feel that you're doing fine and you're not worried, then don't let someone else talk you into getting stressed over this. JOJ
I asked my perinatologist about third trimester flying and he said the only big issue is just whether the flight is to somewhere with excellent obstetrical care. He has one patient who must fly internationally a great deal, but she goes to Paris, Rome, etc., so she's never away from the best care. High Flyer
I flew to Hawaii this past June when I was about 32 weeks pregnant. We had a connection in LA both coming and going, which made for a longer trip- ugh! I made sure to have a note from my OB saying that my pregnancy was normal and healthy (check your airline's website to see what exactly they want in the note). Of course no one asked to see it, but it made me feel better knowing I had it just in case. The flight back was a red-eye, which was pretty miserable and I wouldn't recommend it, since I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep. Try to cushion yourself as well as possible. A water bottle under your lower back works great! Overall I LOVED going to Hawaii for our ''babymoon''. The relaxing sun and warm water were SO NICE while being so hugely pregnant! Enjoy this time with your hubby! Even if you're a bit uncomfortable on the flights, tell yourself it'll be over in a few hours, and then you'll have wonderful memories of your trip with your hubby before the little one makes three. Loving my baby but dreaming about warm waves
I flew at 34 weeks to the East Coast due to my brother's unexpected funeral and was fine - no problems at all (other than overwhelming grief...)Didn't do anything special other than visit my OB beforehand to gain her clearance. Just made sure I drank alot of water and tried to rest during flight and afterwards. Karen H.
i flew from san francisco to aruba at 32 weeks and had no problems. the time in the air is a little worrisome, but as long as you are sure to walk around once an hour or so - it should be fine. ask your OB about taking a baby aspirin. michelle
I flew to Albuquerque (2+ hours I think) when I was 34 weeks pregnant for a work meeting. Sitting in the meeting was much worse than the flight. If you're feeling good - I say go for it! It'll be a while before you'll be able to enjoy a trip like that again. have fun
If your midwives are supportive and you are feeling great, I would say go for it. But first you might want to check with the airlines to see if they have any policies that might prohibit you from traveling at that stage of pregnancy. Also, if you have health insurance, you may want to check with their pregnancy-travel guidelines. Some providers won't cover birth-related emergencies if you ignore their guidelines. Anonymous
Hawaii? Who can blame you! Absolutely ENJOY YOURSELF! But on the topic of flying: My experience with flying late in pregnancy was pretty bad. I too got the okay to fly across country for my Grandfather's funeral from my midwife. The flight out, completely fine. The flight back, I was worn out from travelling. I spent most the flight being ministered to by flight attendants, with dizziness, achiness and clearly dehydrated. I think the thing to remember is to take good care of yourself. A last trip Hawaii could be worth it but don't underestimate your energy level and if you can prepare your partner to be a caretaker if you feel ill, all the better. Eat good, drink lots, avoid a tropical sunburn, get a good stretch or two in and don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it. But enjoy Hawaii too! Aloha from Kamahaina Haole girl
I flew at 34 weeks -- Fl to DC. My doctor had asked me not to fly at that point (I was having blood pressure issues), so my trip wasn't very fun (I also started having contractions -- not real ones, but enough to spook me). But, if I had been healthy, I would have been fine.
The cut off point is sort of arbitrary -- airlines don't want you giving birth on board, for good reason. Customers are already bitter enough about having to pay $200 to fly roundtrip across country without being delayed because the plane has to duck into some airport enroute to deal with an unplanned delivery. -anon
I flew at 32 weeks and it was fine. I had a long flight, too. And it was humid when I got there (Texas). My feet swelled a bit, but it wasn't a big deal. Airlines will let you fly until week 35, but I got a note from my doctor saying I was ok to fly, just so there was no question. I didn't want to get to Texas and not be allowed to come home again! anon
Personally, I wouldn't do it. When I was 29 weeks pregnant with baby #2, I flew to Florida for my parents' 50th anniversary, and went into premature labor - during a hurricane. I went to the ER as the hurricane was closing in on our town, was admitted to Labor & Delivery, and they were even talking about inducing me and delivering within the week. Against the Florida doctor's advice, but WITH the agreement of my OB here in Berkeley (who had reviewed my medical situation with the Florida doctor), I flew home as soon as the hurricane passed. As soon as I landed in California, I went on bedrest for 5 weeks, and had my baby at 38 weeks. The whole thing was a nightmare, and I cringe to think that this might happen to you, giving birth in an unknown hospital (with whichever doctor happens to be on call at the moment) or heaven forbid, on the plane. Keep your last big whoo-ha closer to home. I would suggest even keeping it no more than an hour driving distance to your hospital of choice. You just can never predict what might happen, or be too safe. I was in labor in the air, and it was not fun for anyone!
Cross-country flight, first trimester, w/toddler
Dec 2004 I am about 8 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty rough- extremely tired and very nauseous. I am flying back east for Christmas alone with my 19 month old daughter to be with family. It is not an option to cancel our plans, as I do want to make the trip, or to have my husband fly with us (he is traveling on different days than us). So, I need some advice on how to handle this flight as best as I can. I've flown alone with my daughter and she does OK, but we normally upgrade so that we have more space- and I'm normally feeling much better! There are no seats available for upgrade, so we will be sharing a row with another passenger...is it best then not to take her carseat on board? Are there any foods, scents, etc that I could take with me to curb the nausea from all of the awful plane smells? Please, anyone who has experienced this- how did you do it? Worrying about this flight is just another thing keeping me up at night! Thank you for sharing. Nauseous Traveler with 19 month old companion
We've traveled back East 7 time with our now 3-year-old daughter. My advice is to NOT take the car seat, unless you are taking a red-eye and you would expect her to sleep better in a carseat. We found that after the first year the car seat enabled her to kick the seat in front of her and it was impossible to stop her. Without the car seat she'll have more room and therefore be more comfortable, can put the tray down to eat, draw, etc. Also, as far as the nausea, I used ''sea bands'' (sold at longs) which helped some with nausea during my first trimester with my second. They are accupressure elastic wrist bands. Finally, if your daughter likes videos I highly recommend renting/borrowing/buying a portable DVD player. For us it has made traveling, even with two, almost a pleasure. I've actually been able to rest and read on planes while my daughter watches her DVDs. anon
We have been flying to NYC several times a year with our son since he was born and he is now almost 2. I have done it on my own several times and here is my advice to you:
- Use your stroller all the way up to the plane door and they will put it under the plane and have it out when you land.
- Do not take the car seat. Buy your child a seat. It is worth every penny -- the car seat is just a pain in the neck to deal with and unecessary. If there are three seats, chose the outer two. Most people will not pick a middle seat for themselves and you will likely end up with the row to yourself. If not, then the person with the middle seat will gladly switch...
- Invest in a small, portable DVD player. I have one I only use on the flights and it is the best $200 I have ever spent. You can also rent them at the airport for very cheap and return it on the other end -- along with children's DVD's(we never use headphones, it's not really loud enough to bother anyone).
- Buy a new toy and bring it out on the flight.
- Be the last one on the plane. Fly direct.
- Minimal baggage on the flight -- check everything in but a backpack.
- Find a nice flight attendant and make friends -- and don't be afraid to ask for help.
- Lots of snacks and drinks.
In a pinch, there is always benadryl. We fly to Europe to visit family often also and have used it twice as a humane alternative to in-flight flipping out. We use half of what the dosage is (try it at home first to make sure it doesn't have the opposite effect) and it just mellows our son out. It can be hard when they have to be seat belted, etc. during a bumpy flight. Sit toward the front, the rear of the plane is very noisy. Breathe. Good luck!!! suzy
Flying at 7 and 3/4 months pregnant
I would like to attend a meeting in Washington, D.C., but I will be about 7 and 3/4 months pregnant. My doctor advises not to fly in the 8th month. I am just looking for some advice. Should I go?? And do airlines have regulations about very pregnant women flying?
My OB told me the concern was (1) that one would inconveniently go into labor on the flight; (2) one would not have a regular OB at the far-away site. He did not think that changes in cabin pressure might bring labor on, however, and I flew at about 7 months without any difficulty. Clearly, it's possible to arrange for a doctor in DC beforehand, but the first problem could be a real doozy. A flight to DC lasts about 6 hours, and one could be well along in labor by the end of that time. I dunno, it's sort of a crap shoot at 8 months - but I have a LOT of friends who delivered at 34, 35, 36 weeks.
On flying while 7 3/4 months pregnant. Most of the people I know who fly that late in their pregnancy don't find it a pleasant experience. I've known more than one couple who traveled in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and ended up with premature labor, in one case a premie birth far from home. As the mom of 2 premie babies (but never got anywhere near getting to choose whether to travel in the 8th month), I can say that there are a lot of conference opportunities there in your future, but this baby will only go through gestation once, and if you encounter any problems, it's a whole lot nicer to be close to home and to your prenatal care network. Premature birth may not seem that much of an issue to you, if you'll be at almost 8 months, but even at that age babies can have problems that keep them hospitalized for more than the normal period, and flying home postpartum with a newborn wouldn't be all that much fun either. Of course, probably the majority of pregnant travellers have no problems, but I'd say go with the doctor's advice. Even the successful late pregnancy travellers I know found it very uncomfortable and in retrospect would have happily skipped the trip. So consider the long term perspective--your career will recover from one missed conference much more easily than you would recover from any complications that arose out of the trip. Good luck!
I did this (flew to Michigan when I was 7 and half months pregnant) this summer. I flew Southwest. When I called the airline ahead of time to see if they had restrictions, they said I'd need a doctors note saying it was ok, but on the trip out nobody asked to see it. On the trip back somebody asked if I had one, but when I said I did but it would take a minute to get it out, they said they didn't need to see it.
In terms of whether you should go or not:does your doctor have a reason that you shouldn't (i.e. is there a higher-than-average risk that you'll give birth this early?). I didn't have any problems with the flight--just walked around a lot and drank lots of water.
(My biggest fear wasn't medical, but insurance-related. We had called Kaiser to see if I would be covered if by some chance I gave birth early; the person in the business office said that I wouldn't be covered if it was a normal birth. When we pressed to find out what a normal birth was--wouldn't a birth that early not be normal?--we were told that they could only determine if it was normal after the fact!)
I flew at 34 weeks, which my doctor felt was the latest I could do it. Many HMOs have rules about leaving town when it gets down to 6 weeks before the baby is due. I heard a horror story about a woman in Southern CA who had driven a couple of hours away from home, went into labor, delivered at a HealthNet certified hospital, but HealthNet wouldn't pay because it was outside of her medical group (they specify how many miles away you can go). If you do fly late in pregnancy, do try to keep your feet up to avoid swelling and drink lots of water.
To the person who wanted advice about flying while 7 3/4 months pregnant: do it if you want to, if you feel comfortable, and if your doctor thinks its fine. I took a trip to DC when I was 8 1/4 months pregnant, with my doctor's permission. I had one week before United would have refused to let me fly, but they never asked to see a doctor's note or anything like that. I loved visiting friends, getting some work done, and generally travelling alone for what I knew would be the last time for a while. My friends took beautiful care of me while I was in DC, and I hope you can arrange for someone to do the same for you. The servers on the airplane were also very helpful with lots of extra water, friendly advice, extra snacks, and so on. Before I went I got some recommendations for hospitals and doctors in DC, for just in case, and checked into my insurance coverage for out of area. I never needed it though, and you probably won't either. I hope you enjoy your trip!
I'm not sure why they recommend not flying besides being away from your doctor close to your due date. One thing to consider is the change of pressure when you descend and ascend. I think one reason my baby was born three weeks early is because there was a high pressure system moving through our area that night - there were about thirty babies born that 24 hour period at Alta Bates. A nurse told me that many babies were early and labor came on becausa of water breaking and that it is common when there is a high pressure system. I guess any weakness in the sac can be tested during changes in pressure. That said, I have no idea if that has any bearing on someone who isn't yet 36+ weeks and if a plane can cause that kind of problem.
I'm sure your question will draw a response from just about everyone who's ever traveled pregnant, but here's my two bits anyway. I flew from Amman, Jordan to the U.S. at the end of the 7th month of my pregnancy. I had heard that was about the latest airlines will let you fly, and just to be sure I wouldn't have problems I obtained a paper from my doctor certifying my due date. I can't remember if anyone actually asked to see it. I suppose if you don't show much (I was HUGE) you might get away with flying later. (?) The rumor I heard about why the airlines are reluctant to let you fly when you're very far along is that the stress of flying (pressure changes etc.?) might cause you to go into labor early (?) and in any case they don't want you to deliver on board. The other rumor I heard was that if you do deliver on an airplane, the airline will give you and baby free flights for life -- supposedly a friend of a friend of mine received this privilege (for her labors.) (Ha ha.) At any rate, personally I would never WANT to make a long flight after the 7th month -- my flight from Amman was *extremely* uncomfortable and in spite of my efforts to take regular strolls in the airplane, my feet and ankles swelled to almost double. Even at 7 months I'd never do a long flight again if I could help it! Sorry all this info is only ancecdotal -- but you can always call the airplane you plan to travel with and ask for their policy.
Discuss this with your Ob/Gyn of course. If you really want to go, make very good plans. Find out where the nearest/best hospital for delivery is near your meeting. Figure out all the insurance stuff. Make sure that you are comfortable giving birth in Wash if you need to. Or on the plane. Have a plan for your husband/partner/coach. Realize that most babies are full term, but yours could come early.
I flew across the country to attend my sister's wedding 5-6 weeks before my due date, with my OB's go ahead. Other doctors in the same practice disagreed with my OB, but after much consideration (particularly since I had complications in the second trimester) we decided to go. Had it been something less important to me than my sister's wedding I don't think I would have flown. But as it turned out it was a wonderful trip. As for airline policies: I've been told that most airlines do not allow women who are 8 months or more pregnant (4 weeks prior to due date) to fly, though a letter of permission from your doctor may sway them. I brought a letter from my doctor just in case, but was never questioned about it. Our OB said there wasn't any danger in flying itself, but what everyone is concerned about is that a pregnant woman could go into labor unexpectedly or have some other complication during the flight. If your pregnancy has been smooth then it may not be such a difficult decision. (I think there is a lab test that costs $200 that can estimate whether you are likely to go into labor in the next two weeks; I didn't take it but considered it.) I was relieved during our flight when I found another very pregnant mom sitting in the seat in front of me! Good luck!
I flew to Vermont for a week, returning on the first day of my last month of pregnancy. My midwife approved, I had no risks, and I took along a letter of my midwife's approval. No problem with airline, but I did wear loose clothes to avoid extra attention.( I also checked with my HMO about what would happen if I delivered there.) I had a great time, although the long flight left me with such a sore lower back I had to find a chiropractor there to treat me. Have a great time!
After reading the postings regarding flying when pregnant, and having had a trip planed for my 30 week of pregnancy, I realized that perhaps I also should contact my doctor to get their advice. I belong to Kaiser and can tell you that the advice nurse all but laughed at me when I told her my situation. She said that she would forward the message to my doctor but could tell me immediately that the doctor was NOT going to approve it. Granted, my situation is slightly different as I was planning on flying to a wedding one day, and returning the next. Wanting to get a second opinion, and make sure that Kaiser was not overreacting to prevent a potential lawsuit I sent email to my father-in-law who is a retired general practitioner. Below is his reply. Hence, my trip has been cancelled.
The third trimester is a time when complications occur, which can be abrupt. As an example, if membranes rupture in the seventh or eighth month, labor can be very rapid, all within the period of an airplane flight. Although the odds are fairly low, such complications, unfortunately are common, and you would have much better chances for a favorable outcome if you are near your physician and hospital. My answer was always no. My usual response was that, although you'll miss the wedding, it is far better to visit later, and show off your new baby.
Planning a Pregnancy and a Trip to Europe
My husband and I are going to try to get pregnant soon. I am in my early 30's. My husband is off his medication at this time since it would cause birth defects. He can't be off his medication for too long. So, in terms of timing, we hope to get pregnant soon. However, we also want to take a trip overseas for 2 weeks before we have a baby. I have not researched this out yet and did not see anything in the archives about it. This is my first attempt.
Here is what I need advice about: In terms of morning sickness, nausea, this being the first baby, pregnancy risks, doctors, weather, airplane flight/altitude, eating unfamiliar foods.... is it ok for us to travel overseas to Europe? Once I get pregnant, will I get morning sickness right away? When does it usually happen? Would it be too risky to travel to Europe? If things go as planned, I might be 3 or 4 months pregnant at the time we travel to Europe.
I don't think it is risky at all to travel to Europe during your third or fourth month. Although, no one can guarantee how you will react to pregnancy and if and when you will have morning sickness, most people feel better once they begin their second trimester. So, it is best to wait until your fourth month if possible. I know I got a second burst of energy in my second trimester. In my first I just wanted to sleep.
Also, you did not mention where in Europe you are travelling. Just be careful with food and water if it is in a more desolate or underdeveloped area. If so, I would always pass on the ice and be careful about what you it (i.e. some areas leave the mayonnaise at room temperature.) But, if it is in one of the bigger cities, I am not as careful. For example, I still take ice in my drinks, but prefer bottled water, which most restaurants serve anyway. Don't give up your trip to Europe while you are pregnant, as long as your doctor agrees. It will be harder to go later!! Enjoy this time alone.
I am european and when I was 4 month pregnant (first time) I did the exactly reverse of what you want to do now - a long trip to the USA. I can tell you possitively, that it is no more risky to be pregnant i Europe than it is here, Here is some advise:
-after 4 month you will be comfortable about your pregnancy, and will probably have asked all the initial questions already
-Morningsicknes will probably be over by that time.
-Food: Take care only to eat pastorised milk and milk products (cheese!). Do not eat raw eggs. Most water is safe to drink in europe and in places where it is not you can by bottled water.
-flying is no risk at that time
-If anything unexpected should happen docters in Europe are exactly as good as the american ones. Remember to get a health insurance
-take it easy! Do not try to se Europe in one week. You will probably need more rest than usually.
Good luck, Bine
For what it's worth, here's my story: I got pregnant in mid-July at the age of 37 and went to Europe (England and France) in late October. My nausea (total misnomer to call it morning sickness - it lasted 24 hours a day and even woke me up during the night) began right on schedule - exactly in between the first skipped period and the second skipped period. (I didn't learn this until after it started, so there was no suggestibility involved either). The interesting thing was that the nausea was MUCH better while I was overseas - it virtually disappeared! Even travelling on the plane (a very crowded flight in coach, sitting next to a guy with really bad B.O.) wasn't that bad. At the time I thought great, it's gone because the trip occurred at the beginning of the 4th month, but when I got home, the nausea came back, almost as bad as before! I don't know if there was something different about the food, the schedule, or simply that I wasn't working! Anyway, it worked out great for me - we had a fabulous time and I am SO glad we did it - but I had a textbook pregnancy and a perfect 9-lb baby who arrived exactly on the due date - so you should also talk to your doctor to find out if there is any reason why he/she thinks that overseas travel is a bad idea for you. Random advice, if you do it, take LOTS of snacks for the plane (they practically force alcohol on you but are very stingy with the food, and then wonder why people get air rage), and stay in places where you can have snacks and drinks handy in your room (even our cheap Paris hotel had a little fridge in it). We visited a lot of museums which was great because they have good food and bathrooms. Bring roomy clothing that allows for growth - I was much bigger at the end of my two week trip than I was at the start! -- the three to four month point is when you really start to pop out, and you don't want to be flying back in tight jeans! (I actually wore the same black knit drawstring waist (maternity) skirt the entire trip, which was perfect for me, it was so comfortable I could even sleep in it, yet looked fine at restaurants & theatre). As for different foods -- I ate what I felt like, within reason (which for me meant resisting raw oysters in Paris, although I did eat a little brie and several times had a glass of wine with dinner, which I know are both considered felonies by the Pregnancy Police).
It sounds like you should read a book about the early stages of pregnancy. People's individual experiences will vary across the board, I imagine. When it comes to morning sickness, mine was bad enough that it made me throw up just driving two miles to work in the morning. Traveling was the last thing I wanted to do. Also, I started my morning sickness the first day I was supposed to have gotten my period. Usually it will go away at 3-4 months, but not always. All I know about travel is that you should not be flying definitely the last month of pregnancy. Talk to your ob-gyn about travel concerns. P.S. my husband was on his way to a one day business trip the day I went into labor - three weeks early... so you never know.
In response to the question about traveling while pregnant, I offer the following advice. I traveled to Germany, France and Turkey when I was 5 months pregnant, and again to British Columbia when I was 7 months pregnant -- all times without problems. As many women will tell you -- the first thing to do is have your doctor ok the trip. This is the most important factor in regards to pregnancy risks. The general philosophy of most OB's is that if you are having a non-difficulty pregnancy, it is ok to travel. (2) I did have nausea on the flight, on trains and in polluted cities (such as Istanbul) and therefore carried a cloth handkerchief dotted with peppermint oil in my pocket. I found that when I felt sick, I would take out the scented handkerchief and smell the peppermint oil. The scent helped to soothe the nausea. At the suggestion of a friend, I tried the peppermint oil and amazingly it worked (there are many aroma therapy suggestions on pregnancy out there in several books if you are interested in other remedies.) (3) I suggest carrying snacks with you at all times. Often when traveling your meals are not scheduled at regular intervals. I found that always having something to eat (and plenty of water of drink) with me really helped me get through the times when we couldn't find someplace to eat. I would joke with my husband that before we planned our tourist activities, we needed to remember to feed the pregnant lady first. Eating in Europe is no different than here, you'll find plenty of healthy choices. For me, however finding healthy choices in Turkey was the big challenge. In addition, finding public restrooms in Europe is a lot easier than finding one here. (4) Be sure to rest often. We also scheduled this in during the day. It will help to keep up your stamina and therefore your interest in seeing one more site. (5) On the flight you should not have any troubles with the altitude (only later in my pregnancy( at 7mos ) was I very uncomfortable during the descent). I suggest walking around a lot during the flight. Don't be shy, and move around often and do stretching exercises. Having an aisle seat was also important. One more piece of advice, Europe is a very modern place with wonderful medical services and resources. So you'll be able to travel in peace and enjoy yourself. Good luck and have a wonderful time.
Another thing to consider in traveling during the first trimester is jet-lag. We flew back to Europe, where we were living last year, after a longish-visit back home. I didn't realize that I was pregnant, I was just amazed at how difficult it was for me to get over jet-lag that trip; I felt like I had to sleep half the day for the first few days. If you were to take a trip of only one or two weeks, even without nausea, a significant portion of your trip could be wasted sleeping.