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Tips for travelling while pregnant

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Travelling while pregnant is often no different than travelling when you're not expecting. But there's a few considerations to keep in mind. In this guide, we'll cover what you need to know for a safe and enjoyable journey for you and your baby.  

Pregnant woman at the airport

Yes, the NHS doesn’t currently advise against travelling by plane while pregnant, so it should be safe for you to fly. But it’s wise to consult a healthcare professional beforehand. That way you know there’s no medical concerns that might stop you from flying.

During the first trimester, some women opt out of flying due to symptoms like fatigue and nausea, which might make flying uncomfortable. The second trimester is often the best time to fly. This is due to reduced risks of symptoms and medical emergencies. 

To make your flight more comfortable, you can do the following:

  • Wear loose fitting clothes
  • Avoid gassy foods and drinks before you fly
  • Keep your seatbelt fastened and secure it under your belly

Airlines often have restrictions on flying during later stages of pregnancy. If you want to fly after 28 weeks, you may need a letter from your doctor or midwife. This is to confirm your due date, and lack of complications. 

What safety risks should I consider when flying while pregnant?

You should consider whether flying is absolutely necessary during your third trimester. This is because the chance of you going into labour is going to be higher after 37 weeks. But if you're expecting twins, this can be as early as 32 weeks.

Flying also carries a risk of blood clots. There are a few ways that you can help to reduce the chances of developing them:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Take a break from your seat every hour
  • Stretch your calf muscles
  • Wear compression stockings

Yes, you can go on a cruise while pregnant. 

But, cruise companies can have stricter rules than airlines. They may refuse boarding earlier on in pregnancy, so before you book, check the cruise provider's rules. Cruise insurance can offer more tailored coverage against unforeseen pregnancy emergencies while you’re at sea, so it's worth looking into.

Find out if there’s any facilities onboard that can accommodate your pregnancy, such as a more spacious cabin. You should also check if there's medical services at the ports you’re docking at. Keep in mind that, due to the confined space, there could be a risk of illness spreading more rapidly while on board.

Ferry operators tend to allow travel up to 28 weeks, but doublecheck before you book. You might be able to request facilities onboard to increase your comfort, such as seating with extra legroom. Contact your ferry operator prior to sailing to see what's available to you. 

Travelling long distances while pregnant by car or coach are best avoided according to the NHS. But if you need to go on one, make frequent stops to stretch your legs, drink water and bring nourishing food for the trip.

Road accidents are typically one of the most common causes of injury to pregnant women. It's important to wear a seatbelt with the diagonal strap across your upper body, and the lap belt over your thighs. The straps should never lie directly across your belly.

If you find yourself going into labour while abroad:

  • Go to the nearest hospital or healthcare facility straight away
  • Notify the medical staff of your situation and follow their guidance

If you give birth abroad, you might not be able to come home right away. Most airlines need newborns to be at least 2 weeks old before flying. But for premature babies this period might be longer. So, consult with medical professionals for personalised guidance before making travel arrangements, as well as your airline.

Yes, you can take part in certain activities. Gentle exercise is considered to be safe for pregnant women. This means that you can enjoy activities while on holiday like swimming.

But current NHS advice states that if you're pregnant, you should avoid activities that could result in a fall or loss of balance. This includes winter sports like skiing.

Helpful hint: if you're unsure whether you can participate in certain activities, talk to a healthcare professional for advice.

Yes. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) provide coverage for necessary healthcare, including pregnancy. This could include check-ups, ultrasounds and emergency services.

If you have the EHIC this applies to countries in the European Union (EU) only. But the GHIC also includes certain countries outside of the EU.

Coverage can vary by country. For example, having an EHIC or GHIC typically means that you pay the same price for treatment as citizens of the country you’re in. But in certain countries, you might get it for free.

Referring to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is a good idea. The ABI can provide information on medical costs, which can help to ensure financial preparedness if you need treatment.

But, relying solely on a GHIC or EHIC might leave you vulnerable to unexpected costs or inadequate care. They aren’t a replacement for travel insurance, which is why it's a good idea to get appropriate cover for your trip.

Be cautious of unsafe food and drink to prevent food and water-borne illnesses. If you can, drink bottled water. If you need to drink tap water verify it's safety. Stay hydrated and eat nutritious foods for you and your baby's health.

You may need travel vaccinations for your protection. Inactivated vaccines, which contain the killed version of a germ, are generally safe to have. But live vaccines, which contain a weakened live germ, might pose risks to your baby.

Be aware of infectious diseases, too. Malaria is a disease that's caught primarily through mosquitoes. It poses a serious risk to you and your baby. Zika virus is also transmitted mainly through mosquitoes, and can cause health issues for you and your baby.

You can find information on vaccine recommendations and health risks for specific countries on the Travel Health Pro website. Check it before you travel and consult with a GP. They can give personalised advice on which travel vaccinations and preventative medication you may need.

Yes, travel insurance does cover pregnancy. Pregnancy isn’t a pre-existing medical condition, so you won’t need to declare it. This means that your travel insurance shouldn’t work differently while you're pregnant. Phew.

But, if you have a health issue caused by your pregnancy or a pre-existing medical condition, you need to make your provider aware of them.

 

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