Woo to the hoo! My travels during pregnancy are OVER. While I am always grateful for the opportunity to travel for work (and play!), I’m also pretty pumped to be permanently home until the arrival of Little One.

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I traveled regularly through both of my pregnancies, but the bulk of my travel was at different times in each process. When pregnant with Henry, I traveled a lot in the first and early second trimester. This time around, I did some travel in the first trimester and a bunch in the third, including flying at 34 and 35 weeks.


Here are some of my takeaway tips – I’d love to hear yours, too!


Curb the Morning Sickness: My biggest morning sickness ‘cures’ included French fries, Sea-bands (which work by putting pressure on an acupuncture point), and essential oils (especially Mandarin orange, the scent of which chased away the nausea.  I also felt a lot worse when I was running on little sleep, so I was sure to book flights that were conducive to later wake-ups and hotel naps.


Spring for Direct: Even when I’m not pregnant, it takes a lot for me to choose a flight with a layover – as in, several hundred dollars of savings. But during the first and third trimester, I was much more likely to spring for direct regardless of cost.


Know Airline Policies: You may be surprised to know that you can travel on airplanes even when you’re far along in your pregnancy. Many airlines have zero flight restrictions and others let you fly up to 37 – 39 weeks (your due date is at 40 weeks), and only some require a doctor’s note if you want to fly at 39 weeks. At 35 weeks, no one batted an eye at my belly (well, at least in terms of whether I was still good to fly – pretty much EVERY I spoke to talked about how uber pregnant I was!).


Obviously, no woman wants to go into labor away from home (or in the air!). But for people who must travel for work or a personal emergency, it’s not always an option to stay home just because you’re in the third trimester. I had lots of in-depth conversations with my midwife before booking my later flights about my ‘odds’ of going into labor early; in the end, I felt comfortable with the relatively low risk of going into labor early (hey, there are hospitals everywhere!). I also made all my clients aware of the fact that I might’ve canceled at the last minute if I didn’t feel comfortable getting on the plane – everyone understood!


Move a Lot: Whether you’re on a plane or in a car, it’s important to move regularly (to prevent discomfort, swelling, or dangerous blood clots). I tried to get up several times during all my flights.


Know Security Screening Choices:  The ‘official line’ is that it’s perfectly fine to go through metal detectors and backscatter machines.  In fact, I’ve read you’re exposed to more radiation in the air than going through the machines.  Despite this, I get kind of squirrely about the machines during the first trimester and usually ask to be patted down – if I have the time!  I tend to show up at the airport with almost no time to spare and find myself rushing through security.  Besides a few extra minutes, the pats downs are no big deal, and I can tell the staff is especially used to this request from pregnant women – so don’t be shy!


Speaking of radiation, you may have heard that flight attendants have a slighter higher risk of miscarriage during the first trimester, but studies are unclear on the exact cause.  I tended to worry about this more with my first pregnancy (because I flew more in the first trimester then), but that was probably a bit silly.  Remember – it’s nice to have a panic-free pregnancy!


Dress Comfy: My "uniform" for late pregnancy travel was sneakers, stretchy maternity cargo pants, a cotton t-shirt, and a light jacket. It didn’t look great, but it sure was comfortable, and that was all that mattered!


Stay Hydrated and Fueled: I always bring a water bottle (for free water at water fountains!) and snacks (like whole fruit, nuts, and bars) when traveling, but it was more important than ever when pregnant.


Wash Your Hands:  Your immune system is already a bit suppressed during pregnancy, so it’s extra important to wash your hands regularly to ward off illness.  There are also a ton of great ideas on the HTP Facebook page on how to stay well when traveling!


The upshot? I think, like so many things, traveling during pregnancy is a choice that moms need to make for themselves. There are so many factors at play, including your individual pregnancy, where you’re traveling to, and why you’re traveling. I probably wouldn’t have hopped on a plane at 35 weeks pregnant for a tropical vacation (although I really would’ve liked to!), but it made sense to go for work.

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(The awesome group of women I spoke to about Operation Beautiful on Monday night!)


You  may also be interested in Traveling {Alone} While Breastfeeding, a FAQ-kind of post on pumping in airports (my favorite thing ever – just kiddddding).



  • Katy October 30, 2014, 10:08 am

    I flew at 32 weeks and here are some tips my doc gave:
    -always have your printed medical record with you
    -get up and walk every hour while on the plane
    -don’t cross your legs
    I have experienced morning sickness throughout my pregnancy so I also took my anti-naseau meds before getting on the plane as motion tends to set it off.

    • Kem November 1, 2014, 3:58 am

      A big fat YES to taking a copy of your medical / pregnancy records with you while travelling (particularly in the 3rd tri). I travelled away for a family event at 36-37 weeks pregnant with my first baby and on checking with my midwife, her only advice was to take a copy of my midwifery notes and my hospital bag.

  • Gena @ Life FuelFilled October 30, 2014, 11:58 am

    These are great tips! I needed them when I was pregnant – I traveled at 7 months to San Diego from Milwaukee and I didn’t move around or drink enough water. By the time I got back my feet were so swollen and didn’t fit in my shoes I thought I was going to have to ask for a wheel chair 🙂 So awesome you were able to travel at this stage – major props 🙂

  • Britt@MyOwnBalance October 30, 2014, 12:19 pm

    My last flight was when I was 32 weeks pregnant and it was a long one (about 12 hours in the air). I definitely found that leaving later helped so so much. Evening flights were perfect for me but morning flights (even like 9am flights) were too early because I couldn’t get enough sleep and I felt kind of sick. Always pack snacks to help with the nausea. Also compression socks were really helpful for me since I have horrible edema.

    Definitely get a note from your doctor, especially if you are traveling abroad. No one cared when I was in the US but I was stopped several times in Europe even though I had two months to go!

    If you have any airline points, try to upgrade because you’ll be so much more comfortable but even if you can’t, check the airline’s policy for emergency exit rows. Most don’t prohibit pregnant ladies from sitting there and you’ll have more room. I recommend the aisle in that case though since you will be less likely to have to open the heavy door in case of emergency.

  • Allison October 30, 2014, 12:47 pm

    I wasn’t hesitant to fly or travel at all during my pregnancy as I had a “picture perfect pregnancy” with no risk factors or complications — then I went Into labor at 34 weeks! Now I’m sure I won’t be going anywhere in my third trimester during my second pregnancy!

    I know there are hospitals everywhere but if you do go into labor early your little one would probably have a NICU stay (mine stayed 1 weeks) and I would not want to have endured that in a different city away from my family, friends, and comforts of home.

    I’m not saying don’t travel – I just have a different opinion due to some unfortunate first hand knowledge 🙁 luckily my little boy was fine and had/has no complications 🙂

    • Heidi October 30, 2014, 3:32 pm

      Oh man, I am with you! With my first pregnancy, I had a weekend trip booked to fly to a (local) island at 35 weeks and 5 days. I went into labor the night before instead. Was so grateful it didn’t happen when I was already on the island, with no hospital or health clinic, as he was breech and I needed an emergency c-section. 30 weeks pregnant now with my second, and I am not planning on flying anywhere for the rest of my pregnancy. I thought I had weeks left with the first. Now I am totally paranoid about possible early baby! No third tri travel for me.

  • Stephanie C October 30, 2014, 1:35 pm

    As someone who just traveled by plane towards the end of their second trimester, i wanted to add two things:
    1) Don’t hesitate to ask for special boarding permission if you’re pregnant. I did this on my return flight home, and the airline was very accomodating. I appreciated it so much because I take a little bit of extra time to get settled with my belly.

    2) The pat down thing ranges from airport to airport, I think. I got lectured multiple times when I refused the machines and asked for the pat down. I went at a low traffic time and they made me wait to the side for about a half hour before anyone came to do the pat down. In the end, my husband had to (angrily) flag down a supervisor. We assumed this was because they wanted to discourage people from doing pat downs and slowing down the line, but as a pregnant (and moody) lady, that was annoying.

    Overall, your points are super helpful. My midwife was also not concerned with me flying and just noted to move around and drink lots of fluids, as well. Great post!

  • Jo October 30, 2014, 4:26 pm

    Great tips! I flew at 37 weeks (I was moving back to my hometown to have the baby.) My doctor okay’d the trip and her only requirement was that I wear compression socks. They were super stylish… especially since it was summer and I was wearing a maxi dress and sandals! I just put them on once I boarded and took them off after landing. No swelling at all and I felt great. I also suggest getting an aisle seat so you can eaisly get up to use the restroom/stretch your legs. Glad to hear you are done with travel until LO arrives. Enjoy your last few weeks of pregnancy 🙂

  • Catalina @ Shades of Pink October 30, 2014, 4:36 pm

    We flew a few times when I was pregnant, and my biggest advice is hydrate and try to walk, also don’t choose the window seat, you want to get up quite often to walk a little, and drinking a lot will make you pee more, so choose the aisle seat, as it is more convenient.

  • Kathleen Ojo @ My Ojos October 30, 2014, 5:27 pm

    I admire your dedication to your work! I didn’t fly while pregnant (and have yet to fly with my 2-year-old thank goodness) but I imagine it would be super uncomfortable. My last flight was a 12-hour haul from London to Los Angeles and I was about to go crazy with claustrophobia and boredom! These are great tips though, thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Kinnereth October 30, 2014, 11:29 pm

    I traveled internationally at 16 weeks pregnant this past summer. I asked to be patted down with no problems with one exception. Flying home from Paris they insisted I go through the metal detector and refused a pat down. They even brought over a pregnant co-worker to “show” me that it was fine to walk through the metal detector.
    All other places were very accommodating. I also noticed that families with small children were not made to go through any x-ray/backscatter machines. I’m keeping that in mind when flying with our LO next year.
    Thanks for the great post!

  • Heather January 2, 2015, 10:57 am

    I know you get the pat down when you are pregnant, but what about with your kids? I don’t really want to take my baby through the back scatter machine, and I was wondering if you knew the procedure for taking an infant through the pat down process?

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