Travel Tips: Travelling While Pregnant
Pregnancy is a joy, a miracle. It is a time of togetherness and the making of an unbreakable bond. Revel in it with a well-planned babycations or a babymoon, a time together to just relax, experience life’s smallest pleasures and rediscover each other as a couple before stepping into parenthood and sleepless nights.
Generally, sailing into the horizon is safe up to 24 weeks and flying is safe up to 32 weeks. However, each pregnancy for each woman is different and there are additional risks and challenges, often due to the changes in physiology of the woman and her unborn baby; hence, a doctor should be consulted prior to the travel.
- The safest time to travel is between 18 and 24 weeks in the second trimester; most common obstetric emergencies occur in the first and third trimesters.
- Make sure that you review your travel health insurance policy and the coverage it provides. Most policies do not automatically cover pregnancy-related conditions or hospital care for premature infants.
- Use seatbelts when commuting by car or travelling by plane or train to prevent bumps and related injuries. For more comfort, fasten your seatbelt at the pelvic area, below the abdomen.
- Check the pregnancy restrictions with your airlines. Most airlines restrict travel in late pregnancy or may require a written confirmation and a Fit – to – Fly certificate from a physician. Check with the airline regarding their requirements before booking your flight.
- Reduce the risk of developing blood clots known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) by frequently walking around the cabin, practising lower leg movement, keeping hydrated and wearing compression stockings. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing DVT.
- Certain medications used to treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can be effective in relieving motion sickness. If you think you might experience motion sickness during your trip, speak to your health care provider about the use of these medications.
- Avoid altitudes above 3,650 metres (12,000 feet) and in later stages, avoid altitudes above 2,500 metres (8,200 feet).
- If you have any pregnancy-related complications, avoid unnecessary high-altitude exposure.
- Immunity is low when you are pregnant, so extra care should be taken in maintaining and practicing hygiene, especially in food and water.
- Avoid eating from unhygienic places.
- Avoid drinking any water that has not been purified.
- Avoid using iodine for water purification for long periods because this could cause the foetus or newborn to develop thyroid problems.
- Avoid eating unpasteurized dairy products, raw or undercooked meat and certain types of fish.
- Consult a health care provider as soon as possible if you develop persistent travellers’ diarrhoea.
- Avoid using bismuth subsalicylate (e.g., Pepto Bismol®) to treat diarrhoea.
- Protect yourself from insect bites by wearing protective clothing and avoiding areas with a high density of mosquitoes and other pests.
- Avoid coming in contact with animals including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds and bats. When pregnant, you have a higher risk of contracting infection from them.
- Wash your hands often
- Practise proper cough and sneeze etiquette.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you develop symptoms while travelling such as vaginal bleeding, passing tissue or clots, abdominal pain or cramps, contractions, if your water breaks, excessive leg swelling or pain, headaches or visual problems.
- Avoid travel to countries where malaria or other mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent, as they can cause serious complications to the to-be-mother and her unborn child, if contracted.
- If travel cannot be avoided, take special care to protect yourself from mosquito bites and consult your doctor to determine which, if any, anti-malarial medication should be taken to prevent infection without harming the developing foetus.
- Seek medical attention immediately if you develop a fever and suspect it to be malaria
Checklist with doctor:
- Make your decision to travel in consultation with your obstetricians.
- Discuss the purpose of travel, destination, perceived risk, underlying medical and/or pregnancy-related complications and available medical care in other countries when making your decision to travel.
Consult your doctor for any vaccines you might need in concern with the country you are visiting. Several countries have vaccination requirements for entry and some of these vaccines may not be advisable during pregnancy. Consult your doctor while deciding your destination.