Sailing on the sparkling blue seas while indulging in good food and family fun sounds like the perfect vacation, especially if you looking for some much needed relaxation from your exhausting pregnancy. Cruises are popular, mom-friendly vacations because they require very little work, planning, or thinking, so you get a chance to actually kick back and enjoy your getaway. If you have a bun in the oven, a cruise may be just what you need, but with all the precautions you are warned about, are cruises safe during pregnancy?
“Travel during pregnancy is always a tricky matter whether it be a cruise or a trip via airplane.” says Dr. G. Thomas Ruiz, an OB-GYN with Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. He tells Romper in an interview that while a cruise in and of itself does not pose a danger to your pregnancy, it could be the destination that could be a problem. Many southern countries are dealing with the widespread Zika virus, which has been known to cause birth defects in a fetus, so generally, traveling to those countries would be unwise when you are pregnant.
The other issue, says Ruiz, is traveling in the third trimester when you are more at risk to go into preterm labor, have premature rupture of your membranes, or develop third trimester bleeding. He explains that all of these complications require immediate evaluation at a hospital that is able to treat and manage obstetric patients, but if the cruise ship is at open sea, a pregnant mom with complications would have to be either airlifted, or the boat would have to return to the nearest port that can handle the medical emergency.
If you do plan on going on a cruise, it’s crucial to talk to your doctor about it first, but it’s also really important to find out if the cruise ship will even let you board. This week, pregnant mom and v-logger Emily Jackson, traveling with her family of 10, was refused entry on a Disney Cruise in Miami, reported by The Miami Herald. Apparently, Disney Cruises have a strict policy that does not allow entry to women who are over 24 weeks pregnant over safety concerns, noted the report, even if they provide written permission from their physician.
Dr. Yen Tran, an OB-GYN with MemorialCare Medical Group, tells Romper that usually if a woman appears pregnant, cruise personnel will ask her for a doctor’s note that states how far along she is in her pregnancy and affirms that she is not at risk for preterm labor. “We usually feel comfortable letting a patient go on a one-week or less cruise trip if she is less than 30 weeks pregnant,” says Tran, “and only if she has a normal cervical length without signs of preterm labor like contractions or bleeding.” She also says that the mom-to-be should also have no other obstetrics complications including high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes, blood clots, or any other medical conditions that need continuous monitoring.
Getting on a cruise ship when you are at a higher risk for complications can put the cruise line in a difficult situation. Given the fact that cruise ships spend so much time at open sea, Ruiz says that it’s understandable they wouldn't want pregnant women in their third trimesters as passengers. “I tell all of my pregnant patients who wish to travel in the third trimester to think long and hard about the decision to travel,” adds Ruiz, “because if there is a problem, they may have difficulty getting home until the baby is born."
So while a cruise itself may be safe to take during pregnancy, there are factors that you should consider before you go. So talk to your doctor, do a little digging on the cruise line’s policies, and see if there are any destination risks before you make a decision.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.