Safe travelling while pregnant

Travelling in pregnancy by air, rail, road or sea is perfectly safe but make sure you're prepared

Travelling away for a romantic getaway before your baby arrives, or spending some quality holiday time with your family before your latest addition adds to the mayhem are great ideas and there’s no reason why you can’t find an escape to suit your needs when you’re pregnant. However, there are a few things to consider.

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The best time to travel

Depending on your pregnancy and whether you’re at any risk of conditions or problems, it’s likely that for the majority of your pregnancy you can travel as you wish. However, you’ll probably feel better as your 2nd trimester begins, when your hormones have calmed down and you may not want to travel too close to your due date (you’ll probably have lots of other things to be doing!). So the ideal time to travel is around 14 to 28 weeks into your pregnancy.

Seat belts

Traveling on a plane or in a car, it is important to wear your seat belt, as stopping suddenly without it causes a greater risk to you and your baby than not wearing it. However, try to wear your seatbelt below your bump, across your hips, if possible.
Don’t worry about airbags, these should not affect your bump and again, are safer to use than not use, unless you are of particularly small build.

Road and rail travel

Travelling in a cramped environment can worsen any leg cramps and aches you already have. Good leg room is important and make sure you can get up and walk around.
Bear in mind, if travelling by rail or coach/bus, that you may need to take more loo breaks once you are pregnant, and think about facilities on your route.
Even if you usually like to get in the car and keep driving, pregnancy does bring on circulation changes. Even on a journey from, say, London to Manchester, it is possible to get a DVT, so make sure you take breaks and get out of the car.
Make sure you take small snacks and water with you on journeys as your body now demands better sustainance throughout the day.

Air travel

If you turn up at check-in with a valid passport, a plane ticket and big bump, you may find yourself turned away. It is worth calling and asking about terms under which a specific airline will take a pregnant woman, before booking a trip.
Most airlines will carry pregnant women up to the 28th week of pregnancy. After this, they will probably carry you later (for example, Virgin will go up to 34 weeks, British Airways up to 36 weeks) if you can produce a letter from your doctor, consultant or midwife confirming that you are fit to travel and that there are no health concerns regarding you or your baby.
If you are pregnant with more than one baby, airlines may well prefer to have a lower cut-off point.

For example, British Airways won’t take a woman after 32 weeks if she is expecting more than one baby.

Although the radiation exposure of air travel has been shown to mark a slight increase in problems during pregnancy in women who work on airlines, the regular traveller has no worries in this area.
The risk of DVT may increase and it’s a good idea to drink lots of water, wear support socks designed for air travel, sit in an aisle seat where you can stretch your legs, and get up and walk around regularly.

For more, check out the website www.flighthealth.org.

Travel by water

Different travel providers may have different policies. Make sure you check these out before booking. For example, Brittany Ferries do not carry women who are pregnant after 32 weeks, or after 28 weeks on their high speed services.

If morning sickness has only just worn off, the idea of sea sickness will no doubt leave you very green around the gills. Sea sickness can be an issue when you are pregnant, probably more so than normally. Try to avoid using drugs to combat this if you can (or ask your GP or local chemist to recommend something, making sure they know you are pregnant). Instead, you could try wrist bands which help deal with motion sickness. Indeed, they can be used for regular morning sickness, too. 

Travel insurance

Travel insurance does cover pregnant women but make sure you read the small print. If you bought travel insurance before you found out about your pregnancy, it’s important to tell your insurer of the change. Even if you have to make a claim unrelated to your condition, they may say you did not disclose all details and refuse to compensate accordingly. Make sure you get any amendments to your schedule confirmed by them, in writing.
Even if an airline will take you after 28 weeks, you might find an insurer won’t, so don’t presume you are covered just because you could buy a ticket.

Take your notes with you

Even if you are not due for some time, it’s worth taking your pregnancy notes with you on a trip away from home, in case you need to seek local medical help of any kind.
If you are going to another European country, you should be able to access medical treatment as easily as you can at home. In the past, you needed to carry an E111 form with you, but this has been replaced by the EHIC – the European Health Insurance Card. For more information on it, you can visit the government’s Health advice for travellers web pages.

Enjoy the trip!

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