Is travel safe during pregnancy?
For most women, traveling during pregnancy is safe. As long as you and your fetus are healthy, you can
travel safely until you are 36 weeks pregnant.
When is the best time to travel during pregnancy?
The best time to travel is the middle of your pregnancy—between week 14 and week 28. Most common
pregnancy problems happen in the first and third trimesters. During midpregnancy, your energy has
returned, morning sickness usually is gone, and it is still easy to get around. Paying attention to the
way you feel is the best guide for your activities.
When is travel not recommended during pregnancy?
Travel is not recommended if you have certain pregnancy complications, including preeclampsia,
premature rupture of membranes, and preterm labor. Travel also may not be a good idea if you are
pregnant with more than one fetus.
Are there areas that I should avoid traveling to while I am pregnant?
Travel is not recommended for pregnant women in areas where Zika outbreaks are ongoing. Zika is an
illness spread by mosquitoes that can cause serious birth defects. Travel also is not recommended to
areas with malaria, another mosquito-carried illness that is dangerous for pregnant women. For a
current list of Zika and malaria outbreak areas, as well as other areas that may pose risks for
pregnant women, go to wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/.
What should I do before going on a trip?
There are a few things you can do to make sure your trip is safe and comfortable:
Schedule a checkup with your obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) before you leave.
Know your estimated due date. If you have a problem while you are traveling, your caregivers will need
to know how far along you are in your pregnancy.
Plan to bring any over-the-counter medications that you may need, such as pain relievers, hemorrhoid
ointment, a first aid kit, and prenatal vitamins. Also bring any prescribed medications.
Check that you are up to date with your vaccines.
Think about how long it will take to get to your final destination. The fastest way often is the best.
Make your travel plans easy to change. Consider buying travel insurance to cover tickets and deposits
that cannot be refunded.
What is deep vein thrombosis and why is it a concern for pregnant travelers?
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition in which a blood clot forms in the veins in the legs or other
areas of the body. DVT can lead to a dangerous condition in which the clot travels to the lungs.
Sitting or not moving for long periods of time, such as during long-distance travel, can increase the
risk of DVT. Pregnancy further increases the risk of DVT. If you are planning a long trip, take the
following steps to reduce your risk of DVT:
Drink lots of fluids.
Wear loose-fitting clothing.
Walk and stretch at regular intervals. For example, when traveling by car, make frequent stops to get
out and stretch your legs.
What are some tips for traveling by car?
During a car trip, make each day’s drive as short as possible. Wear your seat belt every time you ride
in a car. Buckle the belt low on your hipbones, below your belly. Place the shoulder belt off to the
side of your belly and across the center of your chest (between your breasts). Plan to make frequent
stops so that you can move around and stretch your legs.
What are some tips for traveling by plane?
Keep your due date in mind when booking your flight. Complete your flight before you reach 36 weeks of
pregnancy. Some domestic airlines restrict travel completely or require a medical certificate during
the last month of pregnancy. For international flights, the cutoff point often is earlier, sometimes as
early as 28 weeks. Check your airline’s policies when planning your trip.
Book an aisle seat so that you can get up and stretch your legs. Plan to do this every 2 hours or so.
Avoid gas-producing foods and carbonated drinks before your flight. Gas expands in the low air pressure
in airplane cabins and can cause discomfort. Wear your seatbelt at all times.
What are some tips for traveling by ship?
Make sure a doctor or nurse is on board the ship. Also make sure that your scheduled stops are places
with modern medical facilities. Before you leave, ask your ob-gyn which medications are safe for you to
take if you get seasickness.
A concern for cruise ship passengers is norovirus infection. Noroviruses are a group of viruses that
can cause severe nausea and vomiting for 1–2 days. People easily can become infected by eating food,
drinking liquids, or touching surfaces that are contaminated with the virus. Wash your hands frequently
while on board the ship. If you have diarrhea and vomiting at the same time, seek medical care.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) performs periodic inspections of cruise ships to
prevent widespread virus outbreaks. You can check whether your ship has passed this health and safety
inspection at www.cdc.gov/nceh/vsp/.
What are some tips for traveling outside the United States?
Check your health insurance policy to see if you are covered internationally. If not, you may be able
to buy special health care insurance for international travelers.
Travel to developing countries comes with the risk of consuming contaminated food and water. Travelers
can become sick if they eat raw or undercooked food or drink local water. This short-term illness,
called “traveler’s diarrhea,” may be a minor problem for someone who is not pregnant, but it is a
greater concern for pregnant women. Serious illnesses, such as hepatitis A and listeriosis, also can be
spread by contaminated food and water. These diseases can cause severe complications for a pregnant
woman and her fetus.
If you get diarrhea, drink plenty of fluids to combat dehydration. Before taking a diarrhea treatment,
check with your ob-gyn or other health care professional to make sure it is safe. The best way to
prevent illness is to avoid unsafe food and water. The CDC offers food and water precautions at
When should I seek emergency medical care when traveling?
Go to a hospital or call emergency medical services right away if you have any of the following:
Pelvic or abdominal pain or contractions
Rupture of the membranes (your “water breaks”)
Signs and symptoms of preeclampsia (headache that will not go away, seeing spots or other changes in
eyesight, swelling of the face or hands)
Severe vomiting or diarrhea
Signs of DVT (see FAQ174 “Preventing Deep Vein Thrombosis”)
How can I find a health care professional while traveling?
Even if you are in perfect health before going on a trip, you never know when an emergency will come
up. If you are traveling in the United States, locate the nearest hospital or medical clinic in the
place you are visiting. You also can search online for a health care professional.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Find an Ob-Gyn
Web site: www.acog.org/About_ACOG/Find_an_Ob-Gyn
American Medical Association DoctorFinder
Web site: https://apps.ama-assn.org/doctorfinder/home.jsp
International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers
Web site: www.iamat.org/
Hepatitis A: An infection caused by a virus that can be spread by contaminated food or water.
Listeriosis: A type of food-borne illness caused by bacteria found in unpasteurized milk, hot dogs,
luncheon meats, and smoked seafood.
Obstetrician–Gynecologist (Ob-Gyn): A physician with special skills, training, and education in women’s
Preeclampsia: A disorder that can occur during pregnancy or after childbirth in which there is high
blood pressure and other signs of organ injury, such as an abnormal amount of protein in the urine, a
low number of platelets, abnormal kidney or liver function, pain over the upper abdomen, fluid in the
lungs, or a severe headache or changes in vision.
Premature Rupture of Membranes: A condition in which the membranes that hold the amniotic fluid rupture
Preterm: Born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy.
If you have further questions, contact your obstetrician–gynecologist.
FAQ055: Designed as an aid to patients, this document sets forth current information and opinions
related to women’s health. The information does not dictate an exclusive course of treatment or
procedure to be followed and should not be construed as excluding other acceptable methods of practice.
Variations, taking into account the needs of the individual patient, resources, and limitations unique
to the institution or type of practice, may be appropriate.