Third trimester vacation: A bad idea?

I am concerned about an upcoming vacation to an all-inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. I will be 29-weeks-pregnant and people have started to question me about how wise it will be to travel to a "third world country" during my third trimester. Is it advisable to travel at this time?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Women do travel during their third trimester of pregnancy, but it is not without some risk. Only the individual woman can ascertain if the risk/benefit ratio is in her favor.

The biggest risk of travel during the third trimester is preterm labor. Advice against travel during this time is largely based on the fact that if a woman should go into preterm labor, she would not be in a familiar setting and access to her medical records would be minimal. Travel to "third world" countries might involve the added risk of delivering in a place without specialized perinatal units and neonatal intensive care nurseries.

If you have had an ultrasound which has ruled out placental problems such as placenta previa and if your pregnancy can be classified as "low risk" (no medical or obstetrical problems, no history or risk of preterm labor and mother and baby in apparent good health), your risk of having a problem is probably minimal.

Lengthy plane trips necessitate frequent trips to the bathroom which provide opportunities to stretch your legs. You should also make sure you get adequate fluids before, during and after the flight. Watch for any sign of pending problems such as leaking, spotting, contractions/cramping, pain with urination, change in pattern of fetal movement, fever and diarrhea, before you go as well as during your travels.

Take a copy of your records (obstetrical visits and lab results) with you in case you need to seek medical care while traveling. Your care provider could do a cervical exam just prior to your departure to note any early signs of cervical change.

There are many different opinions about the advisability of traveling in pregnancy but I am pretty liberal in my advice. I think if all is well, you should go and have a great time. You will probably not have an opportunity to do this for many years to come. Be sure to check your airline for any restrictions that they may have.

Bon voyage.

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