Travelling When Pregnant: Everything You Need to Know
More and more people are choosing to embark on a ‘babymoon’, taking the opportunity to travel and take a holiday before their baby arrives. This can be a fantastic time to take a break and recharge or explore a new place and new experiences. However, you should take the time to plan your trip properly when you’re pregnant, to ensure both you and your baby stay safe. Below is everything you need to know when travelling when pregnant, including getting the right travel insurance and preparing correctly for a flight.
It’s always best to speak to your doctor or nurse about any matters that you are concerned about before you travel. They will be able to provide the best advice for your specific situation.
Flying when pregnant
Most airlines will not allow pregnant people to travel after 36 weeks, or after 32 weeks for twins or more. This is because you are more likely to go into labour after this time. Some airlines may require a certificate from a doctor to confirm your pregnancy has no complications if you wish to fly after 28 weeks.
For the first, second, and early third trimester, flying will usually be safe. You will likely feel more nauseous and tired during the first trimester, so this could be a barrier to flying. However, flying and the change in air pressure and humidity that occurs on a plane will not cause any harm to you or your baby. The safest time to fly is during the second trimester, where there’s less risk of complications.
Deep vein thrombosis when flying while pregnant
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a blood clot that occurs in a vein in your leg or pelvis. Flying for longer than four hours increases the risk of DVT because you will be sat down still for a long time. Pregnancy also increases the risk of DVT. You may be more at risk of DVT if you have a history of clots or a high BMI – you should speak to your doctor before flying to discuss your specific situation.
You can reduce the risk of DVT by wearing loose clothing and getting up for regular walks up and down the plane. You can also speak to your doctor about exercises you can do whilst seated to further minimise the risk. You should drink plenty of water and could try graduated compression stockings to help reduce swelling in your legs.
Staying safe when travelling while pregnant
You should take your maternity notes with you wherever you travel. Make sure they include information about your pregnancy, any possible complications, any medical conditions you have, and your blood type. You should consider the quality of medical care available in your destination before you travel.
Just like when you’re at home, you should be aware of your limitations when partaking in any activities. Pastimes that you would usually enjoy on holiday may not be suitable or comfortable when you’re pregnant, depending on which stage of pregnancy you’re at.
It’s best to avoid activities where there’s a risk you could fall, such as horse riding, climbing, or skiing. If you’re relaxing in a spa, it’s advised to not go into a hot tub, as overheating can harm you and the baby. You should also avoid scuba diving, as there is a risk that air bubbles can form in your bloodstream, which could be passed on to your baby – however, snorkeling is a safer alternative.
Vaccinations and travel medications
Many vaccines, such as those that contain inactive viruses, bacterial vaccines, or toxoids are safe to have when pregnant. You should avoid any vaccines that contain live viruses, such as yellow fever, as these have a risk of harming the baby in the womb. However, with some vaccines, the risk of contracting the disease outweighs the risk of the vaccination – you should speak to your doctor or nurse about the vaccines you are required to take for travel.
Some anti-malaria tablets are not safe to take when pregnant. The malaria tablets that are recommended for you will be based on where you are travelling to, the stage of your pregnancy, and any other medical conditions you have. Again, you should speak to your healthcare professional about what is the best course of action for you.
The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes in some parts of the world. It is usually mild for most people, but it can cause issues if you’re pregnant.
The Zika virus can be found in South and Central America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, Africa and Asia. It’s best to avoid these parts of the world if you are pregnant.
Food and drink
When travelling, you should take extra care to avoid food and drink that can cause an upset stomach and diarrhoea. There are some medications used to treat upset stomachs that aren’t suitable to take when you’re pregnant.
You should ensure tap water is safe to drink, or only stick to bottled water. If you get ill when travelling, be sure to stay hydrated and keep eating. This will help to support the baby’s health, even if you aren’t hungry yourself.
Travel insurance when pregnant
You should ensure you have the correct travel insurance when you travel. Your provider will need to know about your pregnancy as well as any other medical conditions to ensure you are properly covered whilst you are away. This should also give you the option to cancel your trip if any complication arises with your pregnancy that prevents you from travelling.