In most circumstances, travel is safe during pregnancy. Please consider postponing any non-essential travel during the Coronavirus pandemic. Click here for information about Zika.
Our recommendation is that any domestic airline travel should end by the start of your 36th week, and any international airline travel should end by the start of your 32nd week. We recommend getting travel insurance just in case you need to cancel your trip at the last minute. After 36 weeks you should not be further than a 2-3 hour car ride from Chicago. By your 37th week, your partner may also want to stop traveling to make sure he/she is available if you go into labor.
Air Travel: Most airlines will allow you to fly until 36 weeks of pregnancy, and commercial airline travel is generally safe. Fetal heart rate and development are not affected during air travel. Studies on flight attendants have shown no increased risk of preterm labor. All airline passengers, but particularly pregnant ones, should maintain adequate hydration, and we recommend taking a bottle of water with you onto the flight so you are not dependent on service to begin your hydration. All pregnant women should periodically move and flex their legs to decrease swelling and improve blood circulation to prevent the development of blood clots in the legs. If you are greater than 24 weeks gestation, you may find compression stockings, found in any pharmacy, helpful to decrease swelling and improve circulation as well. A small amount of spotting may be noted with frequent fliers as a response to pressure changes, but this is not harmful to the pregnancy as long as it resolves within 24 hours and is no more than spotting.
Travel to High Altitudes: In general, travel to altitudes up to 5000 feet above sea level is well tolerated and needs no additional care or planning. Travel to high altitudes greater than 5000 feet, and particularly above 8000 feet, may be more difficult. The pregnant body will gradually acclimate to higher altitudes over a period of 48 hours, but during the first 48 hours increased shortness of breath, dehydration, preterm contractions, and vaginal spotting may be noted. If you know your travel schedule ahead of time, it is ideal to start an iron supplementation once a day. Make sure you stay well hydrated. If you are able to, try to schedule your first 24 hours at a slightly lower elevation so that the body has time to adjust. Finally, do not plan on any major physical activities, i.e. hiking, for your first 48 hours to give your body time to adjust.
Car Travel: Pregnant women should continue to wear a three point seat belt during their pregnancy. The lap belt is placed across the hips and below the uterus; the shoulder belt goes between the breasts and alongside to the uterus. There has been no evidence that has shown that it is unsafe for an airbag to deploy in the case of an accident. However, if you are in a car accident, and particularly if the airbag does deploy, you should call us immediately as we may want to assess both you and the baby. It is safe to continue to drive until you deliver unless any activity restrictions have been placed on you.