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Travel Tips for Moms-to-Be

Remember road trips before you had to stop every half hour for a bathroom break? No matter what your mode of transportation is, getting around isn’t exactly as easy as it used to be -- and we don’t just mean squeezing your bump into a cramped seat in coach. Here are some smart tips for getting around when you’re pregnant.

by: Amy Shey Jacobs

Photo: Shutterstock / The Bump

Flying
Airlines have varying restrictions for pregnant women. Before you book your trip, ask a ticket agent or airline representative what these restrictions are. Don’t forget to consider how close your due date will be when you come back.

Airline specifics

JetBlue Airlines

You can fly 7 days before your due date with a doctor's note (dated no more than 72 hours before your take-off time) saying you're fit to travel.

Southwest Airlines

Though the airline recommends against air travel at (and after) your 38th week, there's no official rule saying you can't fly.

US Airways

You can fly 7 days before your due date with a doctor's note (dated no more than 72 hours before your take-off time) saying you're fit to travel.

Delta

The airline has no restrictions on pregnant women, but they recommend checking with your doctor pre-flight when you're eight months.

American Airlines

You're not allowed to fly within seven days of your due date, but there's an exception to the rule: you'll just need a doctor's note and clearance from the airline's Special Assistance Coordinators.

If you're planning to go abroad, you're not allowed to fly American within 30 days of your due date. But, the same exceptions still apply: a note, signed by your doctor and dated within 48 hours of take-off, and clearance from the Special Assistance Coordinators.

United Airlines

You'll need a note signed by your doctor 24-to-72 hours before your flight that says you're fit to fly. You'll also need a copy of your flight itinerary (there and back!) and your estimated due date.

Virgin America

You can fly 7 days before your due date with a doctor's note (dated no more than 72 hours before your take-off time) saying you're fit to travel.

Dr. Ashley Roman recommends that women who are having any sort of complications associated with their pregnancy or who are considered to be “high risk” shouldn’t travel by air during the later weeks of pregnancy. This includes women with diabetes, sickle cell disease, placental abnormalities, and hypertension, or those at risk for premature labor. “If you’re pregnant with multiples, you may want to hold off too,” she explains. “If a patient is having triplets, I recommend that they not fly after 20 to 24 weeks.”

To make your flight more comfortable and safe, wear loose clothing, avoid crossing your legs, drink lots of water to stay hydrated, and walk around the cabin every hour or two to aid your circulation (and to lessen the risk of blood clots).

Driving
When driving while pregnant, always wear your seatbelt. It can save your life and your belly from hitting the dashboard before you do in the event of a collision. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that pregnant women never place their seatbelt above or directly on their belly (nor behind their back or under their arm). Wear your seatbelt with the shoulder portion positioned over the collarbone between your breasts, and the lap portion placed under the abdomen as low as possible on the hips and across the upper thighs.

Some women worry about airbags, but the NHTSA assures that airbags are designed to work in tandem with seatbelts. The NHTSA suggests moving the seat as far back as possible (10 inches from the dashboard) and tilting it back slightly to maximize the distance between your chest and the steering wheel. Avoid leaning or reaching forward, and sit back against the seat with as little slack in the belt as possible to minimize your forward movement in a crash.

As with flying, plan for frequent rest stops—get out of the car to walk around, hit the restroom, drink a lot of water, and pick up a snack. Traveling with your pillow and taking turns with another driver will also make your ride more comfortable. When sitting in the passenger seat, keep your feet elevated to avoid swelling and leg cramps.

Cruising
Taking a cruise with your partner can be a great way to relax before baby -- but make sure you follow these rules to avoid undue stress.

First, check with your physician to make sure that a cruise will comply with your pregnancy. If you’re prone to motion sickness, high-risk, or experiencing complications, they may tell you to choose another vacation.

If you and your doctor decide that it’s okay, make sure there’s a health care provider on board in case any complications come up. Keep in mind that many smaller ships (fewer than 100 passengers) don’t have medical personnel on staff. And don't rely on a shipboard pharmacy to have your medications: Stock up on prescriptions before you leave.

Review the route and port-of-calls to find out if the local cuisine and activities will be appropriate for you and whether there’s access to any medical facilities if needed. And check your health insurance policy to make sure you'll be covered if you have any complications on board or at any of the ports-of-call.

As with airlines, consult with the cruise line you’re considering about their boarding policies. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Lines and Princess Cruise Lines, for example, won’t allow you to travel on their ship if you enter or will be entering your 24th week before or during the cruise.

Final notes
If you're traveling while pregnant, pack lightweight clothing that you can easily layer to accommodate for changes in temperature and climate (you don't want to have to access your overhead bin when you're 30 thousand feet up!). Pack nongreasy snacks and eat frequently to curb on-the-road nausea. If you're taking medication, fill your prescriptions ahead of time. Get a doctor’s note in case you'll need to refill while you're there, and your doctor’s referral for a physician in the town! you’re traveling to in case of emergencies.

And, one last piece of advice: we know they look super cute, but skip the strappy sandals and bring comfortable, supportive shoes -- your feet will thank you!

Plus, more from The Bump:

How Late Is Too Late to Fly While Pregnant?

Is It Safe to Fly During Your Pregnancy?

Should I Avoid Traveling During My Second Trimester?

-- The Bump Editors

See More: 2nd Trimester , Is it safe

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