Some of us travel a lot for work. This can be fine — or can cause a lot of issues — depending on your pregnancy, how far along you are and where you typically travel. So, talk to your doctor. It’s generally safe to travel during pregnancy, but there are certain tips that will make your life easier.
According to WebMD, the safest time to travel when you’re pregnant is “during your second trimester between 18-24 weeks when your risk for miscarriage and preterm labor are lowest.” Similarly, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say that the best time to travel is in the “middle of your pregnancy,” between weeks 14-28, when the risk of the most common pregnancy emergencies are lowest.
While it’s perfectly safe in most cases to travel, be sure to consult your doctor for any specific guidance that may apply to your situation. We’ll be focusing on other things to keep in mind when you travel for work during your pregnancy.
1. Stock up on nutritious goodies and drink water.
Being prepared with a bottle of water and healthy snacks is always a good thing, but it’s even more important if you’re going to be on the road and may have to deal with conditions that are out of your control. Don’t be stuck and starving on the tarmac as your plane gets delayed! And don’t forget that flying dehydrates you. Dehydration causes early labor, and you really don’t want that.
2. Rest to minimize fatigue.
Traveling is always tiring, but it’s especially important to make sure you take care of yourself during business travel while you’re pregnant, since you are resting for two. If you’ve always shaken off jet lag like a champ, consider yourself lucky and try to ease into business trips by sleeping up until your departure and making sure you keep things low key when you return.
3. Break up long stretches of sitting.
Car travel is probably something you’re accustomed to doing every day during your commute, but if you will be traveling long distances, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend not driving more than 5-6 hours each day and taking breaks to stretch and move around. The same principle applies when you’re taking a long train trip.
4. Get to know your airline’s travel rules.
Some airlines don’t let pregnant women fly when they are in the last month of their pregnancy. For example, American Airlines’ rules state that if you are within 4 weeks of your due date, you must carry a doctor’s note with you that says you have been examined and are fit to fly. The rules are slightly different depending on whether you will be flying domestically or internationally. Every airline has different policies on this, so be sure to check the rules before you fly.
Even if you are not within the period of prohibition for an airline, some women who look very pregnant might be asked for a physician’s note. Be aware that this may happen to you — and make your manager aware of this if they are asking you to travel for work when you are in the advanced stages of your pregnancy.
But please, please, please remember that babies do get born early. So, don’t push it. Just ask our founder Romy’s friend who was actually born on a plane over the Pacific Ocean.
5. Be aware of health risks during international travel.
In recent years, the Zika virus has been an issue for women traveling to certain countries, but other issues are present for women traveling abroad while pregnant. Make sure you read up about local health alerts and be careful about what risks you take when you eat and drink (e.g. tap water may be fine in certain places but not in others) on your business trip.
If you’re traveling for a prolonged period (e.g. longer than a week), be sure that your doctor knows about the trip and that you have all of his/her contact information easily at your disposal. Even if nothing happens, it’s better to be safe and stay connected.
6. Prepare yourself for others’ (sometimes unwanted) reactions.
There are a lot of people who may (benignly) show surprise that you’re “still traveling.” If that irritates you, we get it. There’s nothing worse than people making assumptions that you’re handicapped from working while you’re feeling perfectly healthy. Unfortunately, you can’t control your clients’ or colleagues’ impressions, but you can politely tell them that you feel great and that a healthy pregnancy isn’t a disability, or you can choose to disarm them with some humor. Or, you can simply ignore their comments. Whatever you do, don’t be surprised that people still aren’t accustomed to seeing pregnant women working. Somehow that never fails to surprise. Even in 2019.
Hopefully your business travel demands will be light while you are pregnant. But if you must travel while pregnant — even when you’re happy to do it — be sure to take good care of yourself!