We’re about to jet off again on a big trip and as I am 20 weeks pregnant it got me thinking about the precautions pregnant ladies need to take when travelling. I travelled throughout my first pregnancy without any complications and so far so good with my second pregnancy. If you are keen to travel while pregnant (and why not, it may be your last big hurrah before life with a new baby) here are some things you may wish to know:
Best time to travel
If you’re concerned about travelling while pregnant, the best time to book your holiday is in the 2nd trimester. There is a lower risk of miscarriage and low risk of going into labour. Plus, this is the trimester that is often the most comfortable as icky morning sickness is usually gone and your mobility is still relatively normal (no lumbering around yet!).
Travel insurance – don’t leave home without it
Travel insurance is available (and highly recommended) for pregnant women, though you may need to prove to your insurer that your pregnancy is straightforward. You will also need to check with your insurer how far into the pregnancy they cover. Many insurance companies won’t insure beyond 32 weeks because of the costs associated with an emergency landing due to a sudden need to deliver at 30,000 ft. However, if you research well, you may find an insurance company that will cover you in the late stages of your third trimester (though you will likely pay for this privilege). Also, if you travel on an annual insurance policy don’t forget to call your insurer and update them on your new circumstance.
Most airlines will allow pregnant women to fly up to the 36th week of pregnancy as long as the pregnancy is straightforward and without complication. Many airlines will ask you for a medical certificate after 28 weeks and also proof of travel insurance. It is best to check with your airline before you travel as policy can differ from airline to airline. Some precautions you need to take once on board are:
- Keep well hydrated, particularly on long haul flights
- Pregnant women are at greater risk of DVT due to the increased amount of blood cruising through their veins. To reduce this risk, wear compression stockings and get an aisle seat so that you can easily get up and move around every hour.
- Wear your seatbelt under your bump.
Vaccination are generally not recommended during pregnancy, mainly because there is little research done on the effects of vaccinations on unborn babies. If you’re travelling to an area that you know normally requires certain medication (such as anti-malaria drugs), always consult your doctor first before booking tickets and accommodation. Malaria is particularly dangerous to pregnant women and, although there are medications that can be taken while pregnant, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that pregnant women avoid locations with a high prevalence of malaria.
Be careful what you eat
Pregnant women are generally well versed in what they can and can’t eat. When travelling, especially to locations that do not have the creature comforts of home, it is wise to take even further precautions to avoid getting sick. I recently wrote a post on Safe Eating in Developing Nations, which has plenty of tips for avoiding the dreaded holiday stomach bug. Also WHO produces a great brochure on the subject – Guide on Safe Food When Travelling.
Use your common sense – sky diving is out
Extreme sports can pose a serious risk to a pregnant woman and her unborn baby. Some activities that you may need to put on hold include:
- Scuba Diving (hyperbaric pressure can harm an unborn baby)
- Hiking at high altitudes (can cause altitude sickness and oxygen depletion)
- Any sports that have a risk of impact
It is generally a good idea to see if your insurance covers you for any activities in which you wish to partake.