A pregnant woman sits on an airplane and smiles toward a man who sits next to her.
Be aware and follow these 8 survival tips for pregnant travel. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

I recently visited one of our daughters in Virginia, and noticed many pregnant women while traveling.

Is traveling while pregnant different? Yes, it is. Here’s what you need to know from an OB nurse’s point of view.

Two birth stories recently made the news due to travel issues.

One was in May when a couple from New Jersey went to Portugal for a babymoon (last getaway before baby arrives). They planned this final vacation trip with 13 weeks left in the mom’s pregnancy with twins.

Unfortunately, the twins were born in Portugal at just over 1 pound each, and one died a couple weeks later. They are still waiting for the remaining baby to get big enough so they can bring her back to the United States.

Another recent newsworthy birth was that of a Canadian couple traveling to Japan. She said she didn’t know she was pregnant but gave birth on the plane to a baby estimated to be 36 weeks.

Pregnancy brings with it extra considerations, especially during excursions far from home or to another country.

Make your trip easier with these tips:

  1. Talk to your doc. Schedule an appointment before your trip to get clearance from your doctor or midwife.
  2. Ask before you lift off. If traveling by plane, check with your airline to see how far along in your pregnancy it is permissible to fly.
  3. Travel insurance, anyone? Consider purchasing travel insurance in case anything changes in your pregnancy or you need medical attention while on your trip.
  4. Get up and move around. This is especially important on long airline trips. If traveling by car, plan to stop and get out every two hours. Then walk around for 10 minutes before continuing on. This recommendation is from Dr. Tami Michele at Spectrum Health Gerber Hospital. Your 10-minute walk time helps to promote good blood circulation, gives you a chance to empty your bladder, and it also provides an opportunity to stretch your muscles.
  5. Be safe and comfortable. As always, make sure to wear your seat belt low across your hips. Pack a pillow or two to help with finding the best position for travel. This might go without saying, but wear and pack comfortable clothing.
  6. Stay hydrated. Airline air is remarkably dry, and if you’re going somewhere warm, you’re going to need extra water to stay hydrated. Remember, you’re keeping yourself hydrated and your baby. If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Drink filtered water or bottled water. Be wary of the ice cubes and water while traveling to super sunny locales.
  7. Bring healthy snacks. Eating healthy while traveling can be difficult, but make a point to consume a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients your baby—and you—need.
  8. Take the time. Remember to plan extra time for activities as pregnancy can make you more tired. Don’t try to squeeze every activity into an action-packed holiday. Focus on quality time and pencil some downtime or naps into your schedule.