Travelling During Pregnancy: Travel tips from Dr Ruth Handford
Taking a holiday can be a great idea during pregnancy, and can give you some valuable relaxation time before your baby is born.
When is it safe to travel?
- When considering whether to travel abroad, give some thought to how you might be feeling at different stages of pregnancy.
- In the early weeks, you may feel nauseated and very tired. Also, the risk of miscarriage is highest in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Travelling won't increase this risk, but you may want to think about the medical help available at your destination.
- The chance of going in to labour is highest after 37 weeks, and it is sensible to be near your chosen place of delivery after this point. If you have had premature labours in the past, you are at more risk of this happening again, and you may want to avoid travelling later in pregnancy.
Choosing your destination
- Consider whether you want to be in a hot climate later in pregnancy- you may find this uncomfortable.
- You will be more sensitive to the sun too- and will need to use regular sun protection of at least SPF 30.
- Pregnant women can be a bit prone to constipation, and to urine infections, both of which can be prevented by drinking plenty of clean bottled water.
Staying healthy on holiday
- Try to avoid developing an upset stomach whilst away, by drinking bottled water and avoiding ice cubes. Eat well cooked meat and avoid ice cream and soft cheese, which may not be pasteurised. If you do become unwell with diarrhoea or vomiting, it is vital to keep drinking lots of water. If your symptoms carry on for longer than 24 hours, it is sensible to see a doctor.
- Think about the healthcare provision in your chosen destination- going to a remote location is not advisable. Make sure you have a copy of your maternity notes with you in case you need to see a doctor whilst you are away.
- Some destinations require visitors to have vaccinations or malaria prevention tablets. These are not tested on pregnant women, so it is not known for sure how safe they are. Do check before you travel, and it may be better to avoid destinations that require you to have immunisations. If you really must go somewhere where these are advised, it is safer to have them than to risk developing infections that could seriously harm you or your baby. Talk to your GP about malaria prevention medication so you can choose the safest one.
Enjoying the journey!
- If you plan to fly during pregnancy, check with your airline before you book, as they have variable rules on when you can travel. Many airlines refuse to let you fly after 36 weeks, or earlier if you are carrying twins or triplets.
- Flying for longer than a few hours can be uncomfortable at the best of times, but it is important to make sure you walk about every half hour during long distance travel. This will help to reduce the chance of developing a blood clot in your legs- commonly known as a DVT. You will be at increased risk of this during pregnancy, and if you get any leg swelling or calf pain after a long journey, you must see a doctor. It can also help to wear compression socks during journeys of more than a couple of hours. These can be bought at most chemists, and can reduce your chance of developing a clot.
- Ferry companies and cruise ships will also have rules about when pregnant women can travel with them, and you must check with your chosen company before you book.
- Your travel company is likely to want a letter from your GP advising about your due date, and confirming that it is safe for you to travel on your planned dates.
Make sure your travel insurance company know you are pregnant and that your policy will cover any unexpected pregnancy related medical care including premature labour, as well as cancellation cover if you develop a complication after booking your trip and you are advised not to travel.
Always consult your own doctor or midwife before travelling
These travel tips are intended to provide general information for those travelling when pregnant and do not replace a visit to your doctor. If you are planning a holiday you should consult your doctor or midwife to ensure that you are fit to travel and discuss any specific health requirements you may have.
About Dr Ruth Handford
Dr Ruth Handford is a GP with over 10 years' experience of working in both hospital and primary care. She is particularly interested in caring for the elderly in the community, child health, and family planning. Ruth lives and works in a rural community, and is kept very busy by her job and young family.
Important Information: These travel tips are intended to provide general information for those travelling when pregnant and do not replace a visit to your doctor. If you are planning a holiday you should consult your doctor or midwife to ensure that you are fit to travel and discuss any specific health requirements you may have.
Travel Insurance for pregnancy
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommend that you have travel insurance in place every time you travel abroad. Goodtogoinsurance.com is proud to cover pregnancy as standard on all of our travel insurance policies.