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Travelling While Pregnant – What You Need To Know

Congratulations to all you soon-to-be mums! It’s more
important than ever to pamper yourself when you’re expecting.
Taking a trip away now is the perfect way to get some well-deserved
‘me time’ before your new baby arrives. Whether
you’re planning a restful trip alone, a cheeky
‘babymoon’ with your partner, or a girly city break,
try to plan some time to get away from all the baby-proofing,
prenatal classes and planning while you still can!

But, of course, your priority will always be yours and your
baby’s health. Depending on how along you are and how healthy
you are generally, making long flights or travelling long distances
to unknown places could put a strain on your health. But it
doesn’t have to! For peace of mind, make sure you read our
guide on travelling while pregnant and travelling with small
children before you go so that you’re fully prepared for that
holiday away!

Important Questions

Always, the first questions you should be asking yourself
are:

  • Is it safe?
  • What are the risks?
  • Do I really need to travel?
  • Am I healthy enough to do this?

We wouldn’t recommend travelling if you’re in the
later stages of pregnancy or to areas that are at high risk of
malaria, hepatitis or other infectious diseases, but if you are
planning a trip while pregnant then we’ve got some handy tips
and suggestions to help you and your baby stay healthy when
you’re out there.

So, when is it safe for me to travel?

Most airlines will let you travel under 28 weeks of your
pregnancy without a letter from your GP or midwife if you’ve
had a problem-free pregnancy. After that, you’ll have to
provide a letter from your medical professional for the airline
stating your due date and that you’re fit to fly. In all
cases, after 36 weeks (or 32 if you’re expecting twins!) you
won’t be able to travel by air.

We’ve found that most women think that the best time to
travel while you’re pregnant is between four and six months.
The first 12 weeks of pregnancy can be tough on any new mum:
you’re more likely to be sleepy and nauseous which could make
travelling during this time pretty uncomfortable. The first three
months are also the most high risk of any pregnancy for things
going wrong, so we’d advise that you wait until after this
period to travel. Still if you’ve had a problem-free
pregnancy and you’re taking the right precautions,
there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a holiday
away!

Whenever and wherever you’re going, always go to see your
midwife to talk about the risks, and when the best time for you to
travel would be. There are certain points during your pregnancy
when travelling is safer than others.

REMEMBER: even if you’re within the week-limit for air travel, think about the risks and consequences of a premature labour. If you’re staying abroad and have your baby prematurely, you could be stuck there for months until your baby is well enough to be taken home to the UK. A good benchmark to remember is that premature babies will usually stay in hospital for about the same time as they would have been in the womb, had they not popped out early! So, if you’re delivering at 25 weeks then you could have an extra 15 weeks in that country.

Before You Go

We’ve come up with a checklist to follow before you go to
help you out. Here are the top things to remember before you go on
any trip while pregnant:

  1. Make sure you’re fully up-to-date and repatriated with
    some good travel health insurance and make sure the insurance
    company knows that you are pregnant! This might sound nit-picky,
    but otherwise you won’t be covered for anything that happens
    to you or your baby. Again, if anything were to happen or you were
    to have a premature birth, then you’ll need good healthcare
    when you’re out there and you’ll need to be covered for
    costs.
  2. Go to see your midwife and/or GP first! You’ll need to
    discuss your travel plans to begin with to check that they think
    it’s safe for you and your baby to go, but you’ll also
    need to get enough of all the prescriptions and medications
    you’re taking to last you for the trip. Make sure to bring
    photocopies of your prescriptions too, and spares of your
    medication in case you lose them.
  3. Always always always bring your pregnancy notes with you
    everywhere you go! All pregnant women should carry their hand-held
    record with all their scans and medical info so that you can get
    proper maternal or neonatal care if you need it.
  4. Bring a note of the numbers of your midwife, GP and the
    maternity unit at the hospital where your care is based so that, if
    you need to go to the doctors while you’re away, they can get
    in touch with the people who know your situation best.
  5. Check out where the nearest decent healthcare facilities are
    wherever you’re staying so that you know where to go if you
    ever need any help.
  6. We’d really advise that you think twice before heading
    somewhere where there’s a risk of malaria if you’re
    pregnant, but if you are going to a high-risk zone then make sure
    you go to speak to your GP or one of our friendly nurses at your
    local Superdrug Travel Clinic about which anti-malarial medication
    is safe for you to have. For all you hopefuls who are planning on
    getting pregnant, then you should know that there’s a period
    after you’ve stopped taking your anti-malarials when
    it’s not safe to conceive. You can ask the nurses about this
    too.
  7. Go wild, but not too wild! It’s really not the best idea
    to go anywhere where you know there will be poor sanitation and
    healthcare facilities. Avoid anywhere like this because
    you’ll be put at extra risk and it could be seriously
    dangerous for you and your baby. Make sure you’re extra
    vigilant about food and water hygiene (see our page on safe food
    and water precautions link). Some infections which are transmitted
    through dirty water can be much more dangerous in pregnant women
    than in others, such as diseases like Hepatitis E. Always seek
    immediate medical attention if you begin to feel even the slightest
    bit unwell while you’re away.

Top Tips For Pregnant Travellers

Our expert team of nurses and doctors have been come up with a
few handy hints to make travelling on the plane and travelling
while you’re out there a little easier for all you future
mums!

1.  Shout about it! Sometimes it’s hard for your air
hosts and hostesses to tell whether or not you’re expecting,
so make sure all the flight crew know so that they can look after
you in the style you deserve.

2.  Even if you can’t enjoy a tipple or two on the
plane, you’ll need to keep hydrated – make sure
you’re drinking water regularly at all times because
you’re at a much higher risk of dehydration when you’re
pregnant.

3.  It’s also important to drink plenty of water
because you’ll be at risk of getting a DVT (Deep Vein
Thrombosis) on flights, too. Make sure you stretch your legs as
much as you can manage, and wear some special travel socks from
Superdrug to prevent blood clots developing.

4.  Put your feet up! Rest as much as you can while
you’re making long journeys, because you’ll need to
keep your energy levels up! This goes for any long trip: if
you’re driving, why not let your partner take the reins while
you relax with a magazine?

5.  If you’re are out and about, then make sure
you’ve got some comfy shoes with you. This is extra important
because it’s common to get swollen ankles in the heat, and
you don’t want them rubbing!

6.  Steer clear of alcohol while you’re pregnant, and
eat light, healthy meals to avoid bloating and nausea.

7.  Have a chat with your midwife about what you’re
planning to do on your trip. We’re sure you aren’t
planning on any deep-sea diving or mountain climbing for this
holiday, but they’ll be able to advise you whether your
activities are safe for you and your baby.

8.  Again, make sure you’ve got all your important
documents and details with you! You’ll need a copy of your
current prescription (and a spare one, too!), your pregnancy notes,
and a list of contact details for your midwife, GP and the
maternity clinic you use. If you’re forgetful, then why not
scan these all in and email them to yourself too so that
you’ll always have access while you’re somewhere with a
signal?

9.  Watch what you eat! We’re not talking about
watching your figure, but you’ll need to be extra careful of
all the food and drinks you consume because you don’t want to
catch anything nasty while you’re pregnant. Take a look at
our page on safe food and drink precautions (link) and, if in
doubt, don’t eat it!

10. Be selfish! You’ll need to take some ‘me
time’ whether this is your first, second or umpteenth
pregnancy. Take at least half a day out from your agenda to have
some much-deserved pampering. It won’t be just you for very
much longer, so enjoy having the time to yourself while you
can!

So there are our ten top tips for travelling when pregnant. But
what about if you’ve already had your baby and are travelling
with young toddlers or babies? For more tips, read our article
about travelling with children.

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