By Dr. Ari Brown and Dr. Michele Hakakha
Adapted from the new book, “Expecting 411″
Pregnancy certainly affects the lives of expectant moms and dads, but it
doesn’t have to put a damper on your summer vacation plans.
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about
traveling while pregnant that we hear from pregnant women every day in our
Is it safe for me to travel while pregnant? Are all forms of
We don’t recommend hot air balloons or camels, but most conventional
modes of transportation are safe. If you have a “high risk” pregnancy or are
carrying multiples, your doctor may have a different restriction date in
mind, so ask him or her for recommendations tailored to your specific health
profile. Here are some general guidelines:
· You can travel by plane up to your 36th week — but check
individual airline policies, which may vary.
· For cruises, the last acceptable time frame is 23-27 weeks,
depending on the cruise line.
· If you are going by bus, train, or driving, stay at least 1
hour away from a hospital. Camping in a remote area, for example, is not
advisable. You can travel by car right up to the end of your delivery
try to stay an hour away from your doctor or delivery hospital.
How can I stay healthy while pregnant and traveling?
· If you are going to the mountains, swimming in the ocean, or
walking around a new city, watch for signs of getting short of breath. If
you feel tired, stop!
· If you’ll be out in the hot sun, drink extra water, stay out of
the direct sun during peak hours, and pack plenty of sunblock, hat, and
· Always keep a bottle of pure water with you. Avoid plastic
bottles with #7 on the bottom — these may contain Bisphenol-A (BPA),
which has been shown to harm people and fetuses.
· Avoid unpasteurized delicacies, raw fish or meat, and in
international destinations, water and fresh fruit and veggies.
· Keep a stash of healthy snacks with you on road, plane, and
train trips so you can avoid getting famished and then seeking relief in
convenience food, hotel snacks, and junk food binges. Healthy snacks
might include: yogurt, small containers of unsweetened rice pudding, almonds
and walnuts, apples, carrots, almond butter on whole grain bread, cheese and
whole grain crackers, hummus and veggie dippers, and cherries, berries, and red
· When ordering from restaurants, don’t be shy about “special
ordering.” Pregnancy is one of the few times when waiters will give you a
break. Keep your food choices healthy — grilled fish or poultry, whole
grains such as rice, steamed vegetables, and salad will give you and baby
exactly what you need to stay energized.
· Take frequent pit stops for bathroom and leg stretching.
· Bring an extra suitcase filled with favorite pillows — such as
a body pillow designed for pregnancy back relief — so you’ll be
comfortable no matter where you rest your head.
· If you’re sightseeing, such as seeing art treasures in amuseum, take advantage of couches and seats and appreciate the art from a sitting position from time to time. This will keep your back from aching later on.
· Wear practical shoes and comfortable clothes.
What are potential health hazards for you and your unborn baby while
traveling or visiting spas?
· These are okay: bug spray, airport x-rays and scanners (it
takes 2,500 exposures in one year to get a harmful dose), sunblock (wear #20 or
higher), spray-on tans, massages (but no electric or warming blankets,
massage of the inner or outer ankle bones, or the webbing between thumb
and finger, and no essential oils), facials (but no Retin A, Accutane, or
large amounts of salicylic acid), manicures and pedicures in a well-ventilated
room, chemical peels (but only superficial peels that use glycolic acid,
TCA, or lactic acid), and hair highlights (but not full hair dying where
chemicals touch the scalp).
· These are NOT okay: Mudbaths, paraffin wraps, seaweed wraps,
hot tubs, saunas, tanning beds, hair jobs (perms, relaxers, Japanese hair
straightening), laser hair removal, electrolysis, bleaching creams, and
Do you have any more tips before I go on vacation?
Purchase travel insurance. It’s a small investment that can save you big
time. Your unborn baby doesn’t care that you’ve planned this family
reunion for more than a year. She is on her own time schedule, and might decide
to attend the reunion uninvited.
* * * * *
Dr. Michele Hakakha is an award-winning obstetrician/gynecologist
practicing in Beverly Hills, CA. Dr. Ari Brown, MD, FAAP, is a
pediatrician in Austin, TX, an official spokesperson for the American Academy of
Pediatrics, the children’s health expert for WebMD, and a medical advisor for Parents
Magazine and ABC News. A past guest on Rachael Ray and NBC’s Today Show,
Dr. Brown penned the best-selling Baby 411 and Toddler 411 book series before
coauthoring the new title with Dr. Hakakha, Expecting 411: Clear Answers &
Smart Advice for Your Pregnancy (Windsor Peak Press, 2010,
www.expecting411.com)–the only pregnancy guide written by two MDs who are