Pregnant Jill Duggar's Vacation Sets Off Debate

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The reality star went on a trip just one week before her due date. Is that a good idea? (Photo: Instagram/Derick Dillard)

Pregnant 19 and Counting star Jill Duggar is taking it easy before she welcomes her baby boy, due March 24. She’s taking it so easy, she went on a getaway to Texas – 800-odd miles from their Arkansas home — a mere week before she’s expected to give birth. 

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"We had a great time with family on vacation,” Duggar’s husband Derick Dillard writes in the caption to an Instagram photo that he posted of the two of them chilling out by a shore on March 18. “But it doesn’t look like we’re going to have a Texas baby.” 

More than 54,000 people “liked” the post — but there were also critics who pounced on the 39-weeks-pregnant reality star for taking the trip. “Doesn’t anyone find it odd that she is traveling so close to her due date?” asked one in response to Us Weekly’s article about the vacation. “My OB told me no more than an hour away in the ninth month.” 

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The mom-to-be revealed in People that they were prepared to have the home birth she’s planning away from home if necessary. “We contacted midwives in Texas while we were there just to be safe,” she says. “There is a lot of support there, and we felt secure being there.” 

Still doctors tell Yahoo Parenting that the Duggar’s critics have a valid point. “The general rule is to stay closer to come during the last four weeks of pregnancy,” says Shari Brasner, an obstetrician at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “I wouldn’t advise going on vacation after 10 weeks to go.” In the last week of pregnancy, she adds, “Everything tends to hurt, you’re tired and can’t sit comfortably in an airline seat anyway so what on earth are you doing that to yourself for?” (It’s unclear if they drove or flew, but sitting for any length of time isn’t the most comfortable when that pregnant.)

The optimum window for air travel while expecting, according to the Mayo Clinic, is right in the middle of your pregnancy, between weeks 14 and 28. “This is when you’re likely to feel your best, writes Dr. Roger Harms, “and the risks of miscarriage and premature labor are the lowest.” 

And when it comes to flights or road trips, the shorter the better, says Jose Carugno, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “Prolonged immobilization, especially during long flights, increases the risk of venous thrombosis,” he says. “Pregnant patients with pre-existing venous disease or thrombosis are at higher risk of developing blood clots.” Exposure to the high-altitude environment in planes, in some special cases, he adds may require supplemental oxygen.

Even if the Duggars drove to the Lone Star state, they haven’t sidestepped all of the other issues that can complicate being away from home during the critical pre-delivery period. 

The last month is when patients come into the office weekly for check ups, which you can’t do if you’re M.I.A., says Brasner. “And patients often call with minor complaints during the last few weeks so we have them come in to be checked. It’s obviously impossible to do this if you’re far away.” 

Even if you arrange an exam right before you go, “quite frankly it doesn’t guarantee that something could change in a few hours or the next day,” says the obstetrician. 

And just because an expecting mom planning on a hospital birth may be willing to deliver in a new locale doesn’t mean the medical facility is prepared for her. “It’s just not optimal to show up as a complete stranger at a medical facility with care providers unknown to you and your medical records not immediately accessible,” says Brasner. “Unless your doctor has the ability to send your records from his or her home in the middle of the night electronically, you may have problem.” 

That’s not to say that pregnant women should be on house arrest. Just consider going somewhere before the end of your second trimester and discuss any plans with your doctor well ahead of time – especially if you have had pregnancy complications in the past or anything in your medical history to suggest a risk for pre-term delivery. “I get patients already 20 weeks along asking me about taking a trip,” says Brasner. “And I always tell them, ‘You may feel fine now but you don’t know how you’ll feel down the line. You just can’t predict.” 

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