Taking time out to travel before giving birth is a great way to relax and unwind, but to make sure everything runs smoothly, it’s important to be prepared.
When is the best time to travel?
With the right information and preparation, most women can travel well into their pregnancy. Some women prefer not to travel during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy due to the higher likelihood of experiencing nausea and fatigue. As long as you aren’t experiencing any complications, the best time to travel is usually in your second trimester as this is the time most women experience less nausea, and there is a lower risk of miscarriage. Travelling in your third trimester can be challenging, as it is common to experience symptoms like fatigue, aches and pains and general discomfort.
If you are experiencing complications or are aged 35+ and are pregnant for the first time, you are advised not to travel at any time during your pregnancy.
Pregnancy and flying
Different airlines have different policies about pregnancy and flying, so it’s best to check with your chosen airline before departure. You’re more likely to go into labour after 37 weeks, so some airlines won’t let you fly towards the end of your pregnancy.
If you’re travelling after week 28 of your pregnancy, you may be required to provide a letter from your doctor or midwife which shows your due date and that you are not at risk of complications. If you’re travelling a long distance (more than 5 hours), there is a small risk of blood clots, so be sure to keep up your fluid intake and move regularly.
Pregnancy and car travel
Many pregnant women experience fatigue and dizziness, so if you’re travelling by car it’s important to make frequent stops, stay hydrated and stretch your legs. Always wear a seatbelt and make sure that the cross strap sits between your breasts and the lap strap is placed across your pelvis, under your bump. If you are involved in a car crash, no matter how minor, it is important to see a doctor.
Things to be aware of
Pregnant women are more at-risk of contracting food and water borne illnesses. This means that it’s important to be aware of what you eat if you’re travelling to locations where water borne illnesses are present. Check if tap water is safe and avoid ice, salads, uncooked fruit and vegetables.
Some sporting activities are dangerous, and therefore carry an increased risk to you and your unborn baby. It’s recommended that pregnant women avoid water-skiing, scuba diving to depths below 18 metres, horseback riding and high altitude activities such as mountain climbing.
It’s also important to make sure that you check that your travel insurance covers pregnancy and research the types of healthcare facilities at your destination.
Vaccinations such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis are safe for pregnant women and are recommended if you’re travelling to a place where you are at risk. But the majority of live-virus vaccines such as measles, mumps, rubella and chicken-pox are not recommended for pregnant women as they’re considered dangerous to unborn babies.
The exception is the influenza vaccine, which is safe for pregnant women and is strongly recommended. Pregnant women should try to avoid countries where immunisation is required, but if this is not possible discuss your options with a doctor. It is also important to avoid countries where there has been an outbreak of the Zika virus. Pregnant women are at higher risk of contracting malaria, so if you are travelling to a country where malaria is common, speak to your doctor about anti-malaria medications.
What to pack
Before you leave for your holiday, discuss your medical requirements with your doctor to ensure that you can be prepared. It is useful to travel with medications to treat common pregnancy conditions such as heartburn, thrush, constipation and hemorrhoids. Pregnant women should also consider bringing oral rehydration in case of travellers diarrhoea, pregnancy multivitamins and urine dipsticks to check glucose levels