Summary: Traveling to Mexico while pregnant is possible up to 36 weeks. However, prospective travelers should be vigilant about risks such as the Zika virus and potential food poisoning. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider and plan thoroughly to ensure both mother and baby’s safety.
I’ve traveled to Mexico several times, and on the flight, I’ve always noticed at least one person traveling to Mexico while pregnant. This got me thinking: can you go to Mexico pregnant? After countless hours of online research and talking to my sister, who’s a registered nurse, here’s what I discovered.
Here’s What We Cover:
When Can You Go to Mexico Pregnant?
You can travel to Mexico until close to your due date (up to 36 weeks) while pregnant, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
If you’re carrying twins, you should avoid traveling after 28 weeks. Airlines may not let you travel after 32 weeks, either.
The optimal time to travel while pregnant is likely between 14 to 28 weeks. i.e., during your second trimester. The first trimester has a higher chance of miscarriage, so it is recommended to avoid it.
Women with pregnancy complications, however, are not recommended to travel. Also, avoiding specific destinations with Zika and Malaria is crucial for your and your baby’s health.
Related article: Is Mexico a kid-friendly destination?
Common Concerns When Traveling to Mexico Pregnant
Below is a list of concerns to consider before going to Mexico while pregnant.
The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and can be harmful or even fatal if it spreads to your unborn child. Zika is known to cause birth defects in children. Hence, it is essential to take this seriously.
That said, there is no vaccine or medication to treat the Zika virus. So it’s best to take the proper safety measures to avoid contracting it at all.
Here’s what the CDC currently knows about the Zika virus:
- It can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus.
- Zika is mainly spread by mosquito bites by an infected Aedes species mosquito (these mosquitos are aggressive in the daytime and will also bite at night).
- There is no vaccine to prevent it or medicine to cure it.
- Zika can be passed to their partner through sex from someone with the virus.
- It’s essential to wear a condom during sex.
Here’s what the CDC still does not know about Zika:
- When or if there’s a safe time to travel to an area with a risk of Zika while pregnant.
- How likely it is that Zika will pass to your fetus.
- Whether or not it causes birth defects.
Zika may often go unnoticed without any symptoms. If symptoms appear, they’re often mild and last a few days to one week. The most common symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Red eyes
- Muscle pain
You can view a map of destinations with a current Zika risk on the CDC’s website.
The CDC recommends the following steps to help prevent being bitten by mosquitoes while traveling:
- Stay indoors as much as possible.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors.
- Use screens on doors and windows.
- Sleep under a mosquito net.
- If traveling to Mexico, try to plan your trip in an area with an elevation of at least 6,500 feet where mosquitoes will be less prevalent.
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellent.
- Repel Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent is a popular choice on Amazon.
Malaria is also a significant concern, even more so for pregnant women, as it’s more severe. Malaria is a disease that’s also contracted from mosquito bites. According to the CDC, Malaria increases the risk for serious pregnancy problems, including premature birth, miscarriage, and stillbirth.
If you are traveling to a destination in Mexico with a risk of malaria, talk to your doctor about taking malaria prevention medicine.
Symptoms of malaria can appear several weeks after being infected. Below are some common symptoms of Malaria:
- Pain in the abdomen or muscles
- Night sweats, shivering, or sweating
- Nausea or vomiting
- Headache, mental confusion, or pallor
Similar precautions taken for the Zika virus should also be taken to prevent being bitten by a mosquito infected with Malaria. However, unlike Zika, there’s actually medication you can take to prevent Malaria. Make sure to talk to your doctor before going to Mexico to see if the type of medication is right for you.
There are cases of Dengue as well in Mexico; however, given that it is a mosquito-borne illness, the same preventative measures as Zika and Malaria would apply.
Other concerns you should consider when traveling to Mexico are eating or drinking contaminated food or water, which may cause traveler’s diarrhea (I experience traveler’s diarrhea almost every time I visit Mexico…). Traveler’s diarrhea may cause dehydration, which is even more of a concern for pregnant women.
CDC recommends you follow these food and safety measures to ensure proper health:
- Only eat food that is cooked and served hot (avoid food that has been sitting at room temperature, such as a buffet)
- Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish
- Do not drink any tap water or anything that contains ice
- Drink only beverages such as water, soda, and juices that are factory-sealed
- Do not eat unpasteurized dairy products
If you do happen to get traveler’s diarrhea, make sure you drink plenty of safe liquids while you wait for it to pass on its own. Avoid taking medications containing bismuth, such as Pepto-Bismol. These medications are not recommended for pregnant women.
Check with your provider before traveling for an approved list of medications you can take in case of traveler’s diarrhea.
Mexico has several regions above the height of 2,500 meters (for example, Mexico City is at 2,350m). Pregnant women may be more susceptible to the effects of reduced Oxygen at higher altitudes.
Be aware of symptoms like dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea.
Try to acclimatize gradually – if possible, avoid climbing from below 1,200m to above 3,500m in a single day.
Stay hydrated and seek medical advice before traveling to a high-altitude location in Mexico. A doctor may prescribe Acetazolamide to help with acclimatization.
Besides what you could potentially catch while visiting Mexico, the CDC recommends not traveling if you have any pre-existing pregnancy complications. Below is a list of pregnancy complications you should talk to your health provider about before traveling.
Urinary Trac Infection (UTI)
- Pain or burning when you use the bathroom.
- Fever, tiredness, or shakiness.
- An urge to use the bathroom often.
- Pressure in your lower belly.
- Urine that smells bad or looks cloudy or reddish.
- Nausea or back pain.
Mental Health Conditions
- Low or sad mood.
- Loss of interest in fun activities.
- Changes in appetite, sleep, and energy.
- Problems thinking, concentrating, and making decisions.
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, or guilt.
- Thoughts that life is not worth living.
If you have any of these symptoms or other symptoms not mentioned, talk to your doctor before deciding to travel.
Be Prepared Before You Head To Mexico While Pregnant
If you have decided to travel to Mexico at any point during your pregnancy, follow these steps before traveling.
- Consult your OB-GYN
- Check-in with your OB-GYN at least 4-6 weeks before your travel date. Speak about possible complications and prescriptions to be prepared with.
- Check with your Airline
- Know your airline’s travel policies. Most airlines typically let you travel until weeks 35 to 36.
- However, you may need to provide proof of your due date. You can get a letter from your OB-GYN stating this date.
- Book an aisle seat
- So that you can get up and walk regularly or head to the toilet more comfortably.
- Travel During Cooler Seasons
- Book your trip to Mexico during the cooler seasons to avoid any intense heat. Also, mosquitoes are more active in humid weather above 80 degrees.
- Avoid Areas where Mosquitoes Thrive
- Avoid staying near areas where mosquitoes thrive, such as jungles, tall grassy spots, areas with a large concentration of people, and water.
- Pack Appropriate Attire
- Your feet may become swollen on long flights. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and loose-fitting clothing.
- Bring proper clothing to wear, including a sunhat and apparel that will cover your skin to help prevent sunburn and insect bites.
Recommended Travel Gear: Check out some useful items that I have short-listed.
Obtain Travel Insurance
The CDC recommends that pregnant travelers look into supplemental travel health insurance if they plan on getting care overseas (generally, your US health insurance will not cover you in Mexico).
Related article: Is Mexican travel insurance worth it?
Also, if you are traveling to a remote area in Mexico, an insurance policy that covers medical evacuation will pay for your transportation to a high-quality hospital in case of an emergency.
Make sure your plan covers pregnancy and other neonatal complications. And that it covers both you and your unborn child.
Whether you plan on a routine checkup during your trip or expect to give birth, it’s important you are prepared and consider purchasing supplemental travel health insurance. World Nomads Travel Insurance is an option you should consider if you are looking for an affordable plan that will cover all your needs when traveling to Mexico while pregnant.
What to Do Once on Your Journey to Mexico Pregnant
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure you remain cautious and avoid any complications during your journey.
- Walk While on the Plane
- Try to get up and walk at least every hour. To reduce your risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), i.e., blood clots during travel, your doctor may recommend compression stockings and specific leg exercises you can perform while seated on the plane.
- Stick to Well Prepared and Packaged Food
- To avoid traveler’s diarrhea, it’s best to stick to food that is served hot, is dry or pre-packaged. Canned, bottled or hot beverages are preferred.
- Watch Out for Relevant Symptoms
- This includes pelvic or abdominal discomfort, any bleeding, contractions, or signs of preeclampsia like unexpected swelling, intense headaches, feelings of nausea, and changes in your vision. Dehydration is another red flag to watch out for.
- If you face any of these symptoms, you should visit a healthcare provider immediately.
- Wear a condom or avoid sex
- It’s recommended to avoid sexual intercourse during your pregnancy to reduce your risk of exposure to the Zika virus. Alternatively, at least make sure your partner wears a condom!
FAQs On Traveling to Mexico While Pregnant
Is it safe to travel to Mexico while pregnant?
You should consult your doctor before traveling to Mexico. While any travel, in general, poses some form of risk, traveling specifically to Mexico comes with risks such as the Zika virus, Malaria and other food and water-borne diseases.
Should I obtain travel insurance?
It is recommended that you do so. And that it covers both you and your baby. Look for coverage that includes complications around pregnancy, childbirth and emergency medical evacuation.
Is it safe to drink tap water in Mexico while pregnant?
Avoid tap water. Use bottled water instead. Stomach illness can lead to diarrhea which can cause severe complications while pregnant.
Can I eat street food in Mexico while pregnant?
Be cautious. Avoid raw or undercooked seafood and meat. Ensure food is freshly cooked and served hot in order to prevent any food-borne illnesses.
Should I get vaccinations before traveling to Mexico?
Check with your doctor. Not all vaccinations are suitable while pregnant. Hence, you should consult your doctor on which ones to get.
Are prenatal services readily available in Mexico?
Yes, however, the quality of service can differ between urban and rural areas. Hence, make sure you plan ahead and check coverage in the areas you plan to visit before going.
Final Note and on Your Return From Mexico
Ultimately, it’s up to you and your doctor to determine if traveling to Mexico while pregnant is safe for you and your baby.
Taking the appropriate steps and knowing what to be aware of before traveling to Mexico will help you make your trip as safe as can be.
But you should also speak to your healthcare provider and create a proper travel plan before you head off to Mexico.
Make sure to schedule a test with your doctor after your trip to ensure you are Zika-free.
I would love to help you with any other concerns you may have. Feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you in time.