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.
The most important decision you need to make when travelling during pregnancy is the destination. Depending on how far into the pregnancy you are, it may be more comfortable for you to book a holiday that involves a short-haul journey that doesn’t involve a long transfer from the airport to the hotel. It is also important to consider vaccinations, health care facilities and travel insurance.
When to Travel During Pregnancy
Most women prefer to travel during the second trimester (between 4-6 months) and not during the first 12 weeks. Throughout the early stages of pregnancy nausea and vomiting can make travelling incredibly uncomfortable, and the risk of miscarriage is also higher in the first three months of pregnancy.
If you are experiencing a pregnancy with no complications it is perfectly safe for you to travel and enjoy some time relaxing before the baby arrives.
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Travel Insurance for Pregnancy
Going on holiday without travel insurance is just not worth the risk, especially when you have a little one to think about. With this in mind what pregnancy cover should you be looking for when buying travel insurance?
The majority of travel insurers do not class pregnancy as a medical condition, therefore you will not be asked to declare that you are pregnant when buying travel insurance. For peace of mind, you can always let the insurer know but it is not a legal requirement.
Cover-wise, most travel insurers will offer to cover pregnancy-related medical expenses (excluding check-ups) between weeks 0 and 28. From week 29 your travel insurance policy will not cover any medical costs relating to the pregnancy or childbirth, unless a complication arises and emergency medical treatment is needed. Expenses following a premature, but otherwise normal birth will not be covered.
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.
Flying when pregnant
Flying abroad during is perfectly safe for you and your baby, however many airlines will not allow you to fly if you are more than 36 weeks pregnant or 32 weeks if you are having more than one baby.
The airline may ask for a letter from your midwife or doctor confirming your due date and that you are fit to fly.
Regardless of how far gone you are in your pregnancy it is always worth having a letter from your midwife or doctor when travelling, as airline staff reserve the right to refuse boarding if they believe it is not safe for you to travel due to you looking further into your pregnancy than you are.
When passing through airport security rest assured that the metal detectors and full-body scanners are not harmful to your baby. If you are required to take part in a more thorough security search, alert the staff of your pregnancy so they do not make you feel uncomfortable.
Depending on the length of your flight you may find the journey a little uncomfortable but it is important to ensure you keep the blood circulating by moving as much as possible. Small exercises such as wiggling toes and circling the feet – or even standing up and walking down the aisle and back will help with circulation.
It is also worth investing in a pair of flight socks as these will reduce swelling of the feet and ankles and help to prevent blood clots or varicose veins.
If you are still unsure about flying when pregnant, we have advice for travelling by car and boat below.
Travelling by car during pregnancy
If you are concerned about travelling abroad during your pregnancy, it is worth considering staying in the UK. The UK is home to some incredible locations that have beaches to rival the Mediterranean, but there are some considerations that you will need to take if you are travelling by car when pregnant.
Whether you are the driver or the passenger always ensure you have plenty of water and snacks for the journey and take regular breaks (every hour and a half is recommended).
Sitting still for long periods of time can slow your circulation putting you are risk of a blood clot or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) so a pair of flight socks and regular small exercises (such as wiggling your toes or rotating your ankles) are advised.
If you are suffering from nausea during pregnancy make the journey more comfortable by having the window open slightly and keep the air circulating. It is best to avoid reading or looking at your phone too much as this can induce travel sickness.
A seat belt is a must when travelling in a car, regardless of whether you are pregnant or not. The NHS recommends pregnant women wear the seat belt strap between the breasts and the lap belt across their thighs under the bump.
Travelling by boat during pregnancy
Sea travel is perfectly safe during pregnancy, however you should be aware that cruise, ferry and sailing companies will have their own restrictions for carrying pregnant passengers.
If you are travelling on a boat, bear in mind that most companies will not allow you to travel if you are more than 32 weeks pregnant so be sure to check this when booking your holiday.
When booking a cruise always inquire about the medical help available and whether the ship has the on-board facilities required to handle a birth.
It is important to note that if you are refused boarding due to not having the right travel or medical documents and cannot make your trip as planned your travel insurance will not cover loss of expenses.
Are vaccinations safe during pregnancy?
When choosing your destination bear in mind that some vaccinations are not safe to have during pregnancy. Live bacteria or viruses could cause the unborn baby harm; however, the vaccination may be considered if the risk of infection is higher than the risk to the baby. Anti-malaria tablets may also not be suitable to take during pregnancy.
With this in mind, it is best to avoid countries that require you to have vaccinations or countries that are known for carrying diseases such as Zika Virus and Malaria.
Zika Virus is a mosquito-borne infection 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 that is known for outbreaks or requires you to have a vaccination it is best to speak to your midwife or GP and check that they are happy for you to travel.
Bug repellent is essential if you are going abroad during pregnancy and it is recommended you buy one that contains DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide). DEET repellents are safe to use during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding in concentrations of up to 50%, but always check with the pharmacist or your midwife before purchasing.
Giving birth abroad
If you do give birth abroad, your baby will automatically be covered under your travel insurance policy. It is important to note if your baby is born prematurely, they cannot be flown home until they have reached what would have been their full term. Your baby’s internal organs (specifically their heart and lungs) need to be fully formed to be able to withstand the air pressure at altitude. This could mean you and your baby need to remain abroad for a couple of months.
You will be able to speak with your travel insurers emergency medical team throughout this process, so be sure to save the number in your phone or pop it in your purse.
If you and your new-born need to stay abroad, cover for accommodation and alternative flights home will depend on the travel insurance policy you buy. We recommend that when you buy your travel insurance policy the cover available meets your needs and expectations, especially if you are travelling during your third trimester.
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 give 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.
Five Top Tips for travelling whilst pregnant
There are some steps you can take whilst travelling and during your holiday to keep you and your unborn baby safe. Here are our five top tips for travelling whilst pregnant.
- If travelling by air we recommend sticking to short-haul flights as long-haul flights can be taxing on the body. If you are going long-haul take all the necessary precautions for keeping you and your baby comfortable and safe,
- When travelling by air, or during long car journeys, it is a good idea to wear compression (or flight) socks. These can be purchased at most pharmacies and will prevent swelling as well as reducing the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT/blood clots). Small, regular exercises will also help improve circulation.
- When travelling by sea in particular, pregnancy can make you feel more nauseous. Although there are medications available, they may not be suitable to take during pregnancy, however there are anti-sickness bands which use acupressure to relieve symptoms of nausea and herbal remedies that you can buy 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 steer clear of market stalls, pre-washed foods and seafood vans.
- The same goes for tap water, if you are unsure about the cleanliness of the tap water it may be best to use bottled water for drinking and brushing your teeth. It is also advised that you do not eat pre-washed foods (salads and fruit that you cannot peel yourself) or have ice cubes in your drinks
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