Nine months is a long time so it’s no wonder expecting parents want nothing more than to head abroad and enjoy a week or so relaxing.
Some parents will be concerned about going on holiday during their pregnancy, therefore we have put together everything you need to know about travelling when pregnant.
One of the main things you should consider is the destination in which you will be travelling to. Generally speaking, most pregnant women will choose to either book a staycation or head to Europe – not only will the journey be less taxing it also means you will not have to have any vaccinations or be at risk of certain viruses.
When to Travel During Pregnancy
It is believed most women prefer to travel between the fourth and sixth month of pregnancy with many not wanting to travel sooner than 15 weeks due to the heightened risk of miscarriage.
It is also important to check that your airline is happy for you to travel; many will not allow pregnant women to fly if they are more than 36 weeks pregnant or 32 weeks if they are having twins or triplets. The airline may ask for a letter from your doctor or midwife confirming your due date and that you are fit to fly if you are flying during the third trimester (from week 28).
Travel Insurance for Pregnancy
Going on holiday without travel insurance is certainly not worth the risk, especially now you have a little one to think about, so with this in mind what pregnancy cover can you expect from your travel insurance?
The majority of travel insurers will state that pregnancy is not a medical condition and therefore does not need to be declared when you purchase a policy, however medical expenses related to the pregnancy or childbirth will only be offered between weeks 0-28. From week 29 your travel insurance policy will not cover any medical costs relating to normal childbirth, however will cover if an emergency or complication relating to pregnancy or childbirth arises.
Your travel insurance policy may also state it will not provide cover for loss of expenses if you are denied boarding by the airline and are not able to make your planned trip as this is something that should have been checked prior to booking the holiday. Most airlines will not allow you to travel after week 36 of your pregnancy, however this is around 32 weeks if you are having a multiple birth, but we do recommend you check directly with the airline you have chosen to travel with as they may have a different stipulation. We also recommend that you carry a letter from your GP confirming your due date, you don’t want to be denied boarding if the check-in staff think you look more than their maximum limit.
If you fall pregnant after you have purchased the policy and therefore do not want to travel, be aware, only a few policies will allow you to claim for cancellation.
Does travel insurance cover me for giving birth abroad?
If you give birth abroad your baby will be automatically covered under your travel insurance policy, however it is important to note that premature babies cannot be transported by air as they are at an extremely high risk of serious complications. Before allowing the baby to return to the UK, its lungs and heart need to be fully formed and able to withstand the air pressure at high altitude, and even a well-equipped air ambulance won’t be able to safely transport a premature baby.
This could mean you and your baby need to remain abroad for several months.
The cover that would be available for accommodation and additional flights would depend on your travel insurance policy so we recommend checking your policy wording carefully, particularly if you are planning to travel during the third trimester.
Tips for Travelling whilst pregnant
Whether this is your first child or your third, you should always check with your midwife or GP before you book your holiday to make sure they are happy for you to travel.
If travelling by air we recommend sticking to short-haul flights (2-3 hours) as long-haul flights can be taxing on the body, in addition a short haul flight to Europe will mean you can also use your EHIC to reduce the price of any emergency treatment.
Whilst on the plane it is a good idea to wear flight socks – these can be brought over the counter at a pharmacy – as they will help the circulation in your legs to prevent them from swelling and also reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis or a blood clot. You should also make sure you drink plenty of fluids and try to move about every half hour.
When travelling by sea, pregnancy can heighten the risk of feeling nauseous and although there are medications available they may not be suitable for pregnant women. There are anti-sickness bands that you can buy which use acupressure to relieve the symptoms of nausea so this may be something to try if you are going on a cruise or travelling by boat.
Food poisoning, infections and extreme heat are all known to bring on early labour. Although we want you to enjoy your trip and try as many new things as possible, it is a good idea to stick to foods you know have been prepared in hygienic conditions and perhaps steer clear of market stalls and seafood vans.
Keeping safe while travelling during pregnancy
Now, we’re not saying Europe is the only place you can travel to when you are pregnant but it is a good idea to steer clear of countries that require you to have vaccinations – this is because live vaccinations that contain the virus or bacteria can harm the baby, as can some vaccination medication.
It is also important to avoid any areas that are known for an outbreak of the Zika Virus. The mosquito-borne infection is known to have occurred in the Caribbean, Central and South America, Oceania and some parts of Asia and Africa.
The virus is known to cause microcephaly (abnormally small heads) which can lead to abnormal brain development and other serious birth defects in new-borns.
If you are travelling to a country which is known for the Zika Virus we recommend consulting your GP beforehand to check they are happy for you to travel, also it is a good idea to purchase a bug repellent that contacts DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) it is believed to be safe to use when pregnant and breast feeding in concentrations up to 50%, but always check with your GP or pharmacist before using.
How soon after pregnancy is it safe to travel?
Bringing a new life into the world is undoubtedly an unbelievable experience, however it can be tiring and new parents may want to head away for some relaxation with their little one.
Generally speaking, if you gave birth with few or no complications, and are recovering well, you can travel short-haul two weeks after a natural birth and three to four weeks after a c-section. Babies are able to fly at two days old, however most airlines will insist the baby is at least two weeks old, so be sure to check this before booking your holiday.
It is important to note a baby must have a passport to travel or a birth certificate if they are on a domestic flight.
When travelling by air, allow the baby to suckle during take-off and landing as this will prevent the pressure change causing ear pain. If you are concerned about this, it may be worth looking into alternative modes of transport that do not involve pressure change i.e. a cruise or rail travel.
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