With careful preparation, traveling while pregnant can be both safe and enjoyable.
It’s not uncommon for women to start freaking out and stop doing nearly everything they enjoy while they are pregnant. Well, just because you’re pregnant, doesn’t mean you can’t travel!
Although my pregnancy can’t be called a stress-free (I ended up in the hospital in my 5th week and my issue wasn’t fully resolved until the end of the second trimester), I still managed to do some small trips in the meantime, especially before and after that critical period.
Having traveled in 3 continents during my pregnancy, I have some tips to share with you. First, I will list my experiences and lessons learned from each trimester. Then I will present you with 7 bespoke travel tips and essential pieces of advice about flying when pregnant.
I hope this post will help you to plan your own travels during pregnancy. Don’t be afraid, and enjoy!
It is safe to travel during pregnancy?
This is a very general question. Of course there are additional risks and challenges to take into consideration. Pregnant women can be at increased risk of becoming infected and/or developing severe complications from certain infections, which can also affect the unborn baby.
Every pregnancy is different, so it is best to open dialogue with your doctor to help you decide what will be best and safest for you.
In some rare cases, pregnant women may be asked to maintain a state of complete bed rest. If this is the case for you, then please listen to your doctor’s advice. I have been in this situation, and I had to deal with a long period when I could not do any sports, travels or anything exhausting. It was tough, but anything else would have risked the health of my baby and myself. Better safe than sorry!
If your doctor has given you the green light to travel, enjoy this good news and make the best use of my tips for traveling during pregnancy.
Traveling in the first trimester
Just like most other women, I was absolutely exhausted in the first trimester. Even after a normal day at the office, I would feel like I had just completed a whole day of hiking in the Alps. I slept in at the weekends, and I was able to easily sleep for 10 hours or more per night (which of course had never been possible in the past). On the plus side, I was lucky enough not to suffer from morning sickness.
When I first found I was pregnant, it was only about a week before my long-anticipated trip to Taiwan. At this point, my view was that “pregnant isn’t sick”, and I thought I would be able to do most things as normal. I also thought it couldn’t be anymore exhausting to be traveling than to go to work. At this point, I was completely healthy; although my female doctor wasn’t over the moon about, she still gave me the green light to go.
I made several adjustments to our 10-day Taiwan itinerary, considering my new situation. We focused on visiting Taipei and the East coast, instead of making it all the way to the south. As my dad is nearly 60 years old, the trip was meant be slow pace anyway, yet slow pace for a travel blogger is still quite fast for normal people😊After our first few days, I started allowing myself additional afternoon naps while my dad still continued sightseeing, and I literally went to bed no later than 8 or 9 pm every night.
Looking back, I am happy I did this trip with my dad. He was happy to be around, helping me with the luggage and always making jokes about traveling as a trio.
People often say the first trimester can be a critical time for the pregnancy. Everything is just starting, and sometimes things can even go wrong. Few every talk about this, but there are many pregnant women whose babies just don’t make it until the second trimester for various reasons. Then, only three days after our arrival back home from Taiwan, I ended up in the emergency room with serious bleeding. For hours and then days, I was left wondering whether the baby would make it.
Due to a large hematoma in my uterus, which created potential long-term risk for the baby, the second half of my first trimester, as well the first few weeks of the third, were full of uncertainties. I was totally banned from traveling and most other physical activities.
Needless to say, after ending up in the hospital just a few days after our return home (so happy I did not have to go through that in Taiwan), it might have been better to stay in Europe so that I hadn’t been too far from home.
- If you are looking to travel in the first trimester, you can pretty much expect to be very tired, possibly suffer from morning sickness, and you will have to adjust your pace.
- Choose nearby destination instead of faraway exotic ones
- Travel with someone, whether it be your partner, your family members, or your friends
- Plan your travels to be as simple as possible; for example, my 9-hour stopover in Beijing was not a great idea.
Traveling in the second trimester
For many women, the arrival of the second trimester is rather a relief since morning sickness and tiredness often disappear. Physically, I felt much better. What was more difficult was to continue thinking positively.
As said above, I entered the second trimester with a large hematoma in my uterus. Even though I was resting all the time and stopped doing nearly everything, I had to visit my doctor every week. I always had hope, yet we could still see no progress on the hematoma issue. Meanwhile, the baby was growing and fighting for its right to stay in my belly, a fight she ultimately won (today, I know!)
I totally missed out on sports, stayed home and stopped seeing people. The topic was just too delicate to discuss with anyone apart from my partner, closest friends, and family. Although everyone considers pregnancy a beautiful thing, the more difficult topics surrounding it are often taboo.
The only place I visited at this time was my home in the Czech Republic – I just couldn’t miss our family Christmas. So that I could survive the 600 km as comfortably as possible, my dad and my boyfriend coordinated by each driving me one way.
At the end of the second trimester, the hematoma finally got smaller, and I could finally REALLY relax and enrich my daily routine beyond just staying at home. My boyfriend and I also decided we were now ready to take a small holiday together. (I write more about our Babymoon in Cape Verde in the next section).
- Enjoy that you don’t feel so tired anymore—as long as you are healthy, you can still travel and do some exercise of simple sports.
- Remember to bring your parental documents with you if you travel. Usually, you receive a small pregnancy book or a card with all the important details. It is handy in case of an emergency.
- The second trimester is the time when you start feeling the movements of the baby in your belly; enjoy this time!
- The second trimester, namely the 5th and 6th months, is normally the best time to travel during pregnancy. Consider taking a romantic holiday with your boyfriend or husband for the “last” time (a so-called Babymoon).
Traveling in the third trimester
If you are considering doing some international travel, the beginning of the last trimester will probably be your last chance. Later, with the birth approaching every day, the airlines start to have specific limitations. I honestly recommend that you spend some quality time with your partner—plan a small “babymoon” if you can. This is a holiday in the second or early third trimester, typically taken after the 20-week scan, and before it becomes inadvisable to fly.
In my case, I was happy to finally have some positive news about my health situation and got the green light once again to do some traveling, as long as wasn’t too exhausting. I booked a two-week holiday in Cape Verde together with my boyfriend. We spent most of the trip resting on the beach, enjoying the sunshine and the time with each other. You can read my other post of Things to do in Cape Verde here.
My third trimester is not yet over, but I already have a pretty good idea of how it will go. There won’t be bigger trips anymore, but I still hope to get away for some small day or weekend trips, at least within Bavaria where we live. Instead of making travel plans, I have invited friends and family over to my place, so that we can still see each other.
- If you have to visit a hospital while traveling, doctors and nurses are likely to be more thorough and cautious. Be prepared to stay overnight. Therefore, it’s a good idea to pack a bag of travel essentials, including any essential pregnancy-related documents, and some pajamas.
- Beginning of third trimester: This is your last chance for international travel. Most airlines will not let you fly after week 37 of pregnancy, or week 32 if you’re pregnant with twins, triplets, etc.
- A prolonged weekend in a wellness hotel in your local region might be a more suitable option instead of long trips abroad.
- Your growing belly will at some point create discomfort for you during sleep and other activities, so do not push yourself to travel unless you feel comfortable with it.
Tips for traveling while pregnant
Here are my travel tips for any expecting mothers thinking of going on a trip.
01 | It’s okay to ask for help
There are women who don’t look obviously pregnant. It’s not like we are hiding it, but we didn’t just gain 20 kilos overnight, either, right (hopefully)? Even now in my 5th month of my pregnancy, while I can just barely get into my winter jacket, once it’s on, you may not even realize that I am pregnant.
It’s not that I am expecting anyone to roll out the red carpet, but people tend to be more cautious and patient when they realize you are expecting. Don’t be afraid to should off that bulge if it means you might get the extra assistance, or perhaps a seat on public transport, that you actually do need.
Most importantly, you should not try to move or lift anything heavy, so don’t be ashamed to ask for help.
In airport check-ins or long queues for a visa, these are the typical situations in which you should actually speak up. During my stopover in Beijing, I spent 1,5 hours waiting in the queue for a temporary visa. Once I got served and filled in the documents, they were still keeping some of the applicants waiting. During the chat with an officer, I pointed out that I was pregnant and needed a temporary visa to get a rest in a hotel. I got a “priority sticker” right away. No more waiting, no more queues.
02 | Book an aisle seat on the plane
You definitely have to take better care of yourself when flying, not just for your comfort but also to avoid the potential dangers.
Even if you’re typically a window girl, the aisle seat could be the best choice you make throughout your pregnancy. But don’t panic if you don’t get it, nor should you feel guilty asking your neighbor in the aisle seat to let you pass if you need to get out to use the toilet or stretch your legs.
I have done quite a lot of flying during my pregnancy. I took a 6-hour flight to Cape Verde and an overseas flight to Taiwan with a 9-hour stopover in Beijing. See more detailed information about flying while pregnant is the last section of this article.
03 | Adjust your travel itinerary and activities
No, you won’t be able to do the scuba diving or paragliding…
Some activities that you’d normally do while traveling are off-limits while you’re pregnant. While it’s obvious that adrenaline-rushing activities are obviously off the list, there could be other random ones you would never have thought could cause problems. Just double-check before you book anything.
It’s important to stay reasonable with your overall travel itinerary; are you sure you can’t further reduce the number of places you plan to visit? Do the necessary adjustments, and always add some extra time to relax.
04 | Always carry water & snacks with you
There’s no denying that hunger comes more frequently while pregnant. Make sure to always have some snacks with you. Think fruit, muesli bars, and so on…and all travel-sized packs are your friend.
No matter whether you take off for a long flight or just go for a walk with your friend, it’s good to be prepared. I suggest having both sweet and salty snacks at hand; you never know what cravings may strike!
Last but not least, keep your prenatal vitamins and any other medications you need in your purse in case you get separated from your luggage.
05 | Listen to your body
This is probably the most important of all the tips in this article. Since you are now responsible not only for yourself but for the two of you, it’s necessary to take better care of yourself. Listening to what your body is trying to tell you really helps.
In past times, I might have skipped meals on long journeys, or traveled to stations or airports at the last minute, causing myself massive stress and anxiety. Now, I always give myself plenty of time to deal with everything, so that my travel routine is much calmer and freer of unexpected surprises.
06 | Travel with your partner
The truth is that life is not going to be the same once you have kids. If you are planning some final kid-free travels during your pregnancy, it’s a good idea to have them include some couple time.
Do consider taking a babymoon, or at least some romantic long-weekend getaway. I spent two weeks in Cape Verde together with my partner and we really enjoyed the time. This also gave him more chances to pay attention to the baby’s movements in my belly and simply spend some time with me and our baby.
07 | Think positively
Thinking positively during your pregnancy can only be of benefit to your unborn child. When it comes to traveling, there will be always people discouraging you to go. For example, if your parents are always kind of worried about you, they will twice as much if you are on the road.
Comfort them by letting them know that your doctor approved. Even if they insist, don’t let them force you to cancel your plans. Overall, choose to spend time with people who give you positive energy instead of people who only see negatives.
Now that we covered the seven useful tips for traveling while pregnant, I still would like to come back to the subject of flying. Often, it is seen as the potentially most stressful part of the journey.
Flying while pregnant
You definitely have to take better care of yourself when flying, not just for your comfort but also to avoid potential dangers. Pregnant women are more susceptible to blood clots while flying, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that happens when blood moves too slowly through the deep veins of the legs and pelvis.
As previously mentioned, it’s better to get the aisle seat as you will probably be needing the toilet more frequently than usual. Here are some additional tips for flying while pregnant:
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Make sure to stay hydrated, even on the flight. If you can manage, bring a bottle of water with you on the board. When flying from Europe, I always carry an empty bottle with me and fill it with tap water after I go through security. As for the countries where tap water is not drinkable, I buy it from a duty-free shop.
- Get up regularly. The minimum is two hours, but I recommend every hour. Make use of the restroom or walk around for at least five minutes to get some circulation back in your legs.
- Stretch your legs regularly. At least once per hour, take a little walk up your aisle and down the opposite aisle, also stopping to stretch in the extra space at the flight attendants’ working area. Don’t feel silly doing simple exercises or stretches there. You can find some good ideas for inflight exercise here.
- Bring a pair of knee- or thigh-length compression socks to help keep blood flowing in your legs while in the air. These can even help relieve sore or swollen feet while traveling to and from the aircraft. I admit I brought them with me, to be ready in case the plane was too full or seats so small that I couldn’t move at all, but I didn’t end up using them in the end. It’s good to have them in your carry-on, though, just in case.
- Try to be comfortable. Do what worked for you before being pregnant; I always brought an extra pullover, sleeping pillow, sleep mask, and earplugs. A book or a magazine can help to pass the time. Now I also pack some extra food, just in case either of us two gets hungry.😊
Expecting mothers policies by airline
I strongly recommend that you check the pregnancy policies with your airline in advance, before even booking your holiday. Overall, you can expect that most airlines will not let you fly after week 37 of pregnancy, or week 32 if you’re pregnant with twins, triplets, etc.
Here I will share with you the policies of some of the most popular airlines. These rules tend to change quite frequently, so please always double-check the information with your airline.
|Austrian Airlines||Austrian Airlines does not accept pregnant women beginning from the 37th week of pregnancy as in 6 to 7 % of cases in Central Europe the birth occurs too early. Each risk pregnancy means an absolute no for flying!|
|British Airways ||After 28 weeks of pregnancy, British Airways requires expectant mothers to carry a medical certificate (including a letter and pregnancy record) confirming her due date and a note saying that it's safe to fly. Pregnant women will not be allowed to board a BA flight after 36 weeks of pregnancy.|
|Emirates||If you’re travelling during or after your 29th week of pregnancy, you will need to bring a medical certificate or letter signed by your doctor or midwife. You may not be accepted on the flight if you travel without one.
You aren’t allowed to fly after the 32nd week of a multiple pregnancy or the 36th week of a single pregnancy. It’s still possible to arrane it with airline, but you have to be able to submit medical records to the Emirates Medical Services at least 48 hours before the flight.
|Etihad||During the first 28 weeks of pregnancy expectant mothers can travel without a medical certificate. From the beginning of the 29th week until the end of the 36th week mothers need to submit a medical Certificate, written on clinic/hospital letterhead and stamped by Doctor/Midwife. It is valid for 3 weeks provided within the permitted gestation period. Must be in Arabic or English and verified by Etihad check-in Staff. From the 37th week onwards expectant mothers will not be accepted for travel.|
|EVA air||Recommend travellers bring a Doctors Diagnostic Statement verifying expected confinement to prevent possibility of being denied by airport staff. An expectant mother during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy cannot be accepted as a passenger.
During the last 12 to 4 weeks pregnant passengers must complete a MEDIF within 10 days prior to flight departure.
|Lufthansa||Uncomplicated pregnancies can fly up to the 36th week without a medical certificate, however, it's recommended that expectant mothers carry a physicians letter from the 28th week. Beyond the 36th week or any pregnancy with complications must get a certificate from Medical Operations Centre before travelling dated note more than 72 hours before stating medically fit to fly.|
|Quatar||For a single uncomplicated pregnancy a doctor’s certificate is required between the 29th and 32nd week, and additionally a MEDIF form from the 33rd to 35th week, boarding will not be allowed beyond the 36th week. MEDIF forms must be completed between 2 to 7 days prior to the flight. They suggest expectant mothers should request the bassinet / aisle seat or a seat with a leg rest.|
|Turkish Airways||Able to fly 1-27 weeks. Weeks 28 to 35 a doctors note is required. Over 36 weeks unable to fly.|
I hope this article has helped and that you will make the best of my tips. If you have any other questions about traveling while pregnant, feel free ask below in the comments.
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