Expectant mothers should avoid journeys that take them far from quality medical facilities and that prevent them from getting routine prenatal check-ups. Such visits should be planned every four weeks from gestational week number ten up to week 30, at which point the frequency increases to every two weeks. With the arrival of week 36, most obstetricians want to see their patients every week until the baby's birth.
Regardless of their current status, pregnant women should schedule an examination shortly before departure. Those planning to travel a long distance should pack a copy of their medical records in their carry-on or overnight bag.
When traveling by car, there are several guidelines that will make your trip safer and more enjoyable.
- An expectant mom should always wear a seat belt, with the bottom belt across her hips and below her abdomen.
- Stop for a bathroom break as often as needed, and "get out of the car and take a ten-minute walk every two hours," says Dr. Flynn.
- "Get a pillow to raise your feet and wear loose socks and shoes," adds Dr. Flynn
- Keep healthy snacks and plenty of water handy.
Air travel is a touchier subject. Some doctors encourage pregnant women to consider the advantages of simply staying home by pointing out potential travel problems. For overseas trips these include the non-availability of medical specialists, the possibility of contaminated equipment, language barriers, and cost. "Yet in general, air travel is safe until week 36," says Dr. Raul Artal, MD, and spokesperson for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Dr. Artal, who also serves as chair of obstetrics, gynecology, and women's issues at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, believes that pregnancy should not be viewed as a "state of confinement."