Travel in Pregnancy
It is a good time to take a holiday while you are pregnant. Often it is the last time before the birth of the baby when you and your partner can get away alone and get some rest and relaxation before the arrival of the new member of the family. Fresh air, moderate exercise, healthy food and relaxing friends and family are pleasurable and good for you!
The best time to travel while you are pregnant is probably between the 14th and 28th week. At this time you will most likely be over any morning sickness problems and providing there are no complications with your pregnancy, you will be full of energy and not feeling too heavy and lethargic. This should be the most relaxed and trouble free time of your pregnancy!
Travel by plane
If your pregnancy is normal then there should be no problem travelling by plane provided you travel before the 27th or 28th week of pregnancy. After this the airline will normally need a letter from your doctor confirming that the pregnancy is normal with no complications and confirming your expected delivery date, so that the risk of early labour is minimised. Also travel insurers are reluctant to provide cover after this date. Always check with your travel agent or airline about travel as some airlines may well accept you for travel after the 28th week - but this does vary from airline to airline.
Most scheduled airlines will accept you for travel till the 34th week - but always check just in case! Sometimes if you are travelling on a "package" holiday you may not be aware of the airline you are travelling with until just before the holiday, so do get your agent to investigate thoroughly and find out the specific conditions for travel before the holiday is booked.
Again check with your travel insurers about their rules and whether you will be covered before you finalise any holiday booking. It is not advised that pregnant women travel in small aircraft that do not have pressurised cabins. Remember also to consider the length of the flight. Often aircraft have very cramped seating and it is easy to get uncomfortable and feet and ankles may swell. Follow the health advice for all air travellers and move around the cabin as much as you can to stimulate your circulation, and stretch your legs, arms and toes. Remember also to drink plenty of water to keep well hydrated.
It is a good idea to carefully consider the destination and the type of holiday you choose. You will not want to get too overheated or do too much walking or strenuous exercise.
Activities and sports to avoid during pregnancy
Often when people are on holiday or away from their normal environment they want to participate in activities and sports which perhaps they would not get the opportunity to do whilst at home. It is advised that it is best to avoid the following activities/sports while pregnant and to avoid falling or heavy impacts if you can:
Vaccinations and tropical disease prevention during Pregnancy
Vaccinations are best avoided in pregnancy if at all possible. If you intend to book a holiday in an exotic location then the best thing to is check to see what vaccinations are advised at the following website: www.masta.org.
It may be wisest to choose a destination with good, air conditioned accommodation, plenty of good water supplies and high quality bathing and toilet facilities. It will of course be much more risky to travel to out of the way rural locations where the chance of infection is much higher. Should you still decide to travel to a destination with a higher risk of disease then it is probably wisest to discuss the destination and the individual vaccinations with your GP.
If you are considering travelling to an area where malaria is a problem then again discuss this with your GP. The risk of contracting malaria is known to increase during pregnancy - this may be because of a reduced immune system or perhaps the mosquito being attracted to pregnant women which has been shown to be the case in one study undertaken! If you decide to travel then take precautions with the use of insect repellent, mosquito nets and wearing trousers and long sleeved clothes for more protection .
Coping with the heat
The following suggestions may help you cope with the heat of a holiday abroad. Remember that you may be more inclined to perhaps feel faint or uncomfortable if the weather is hot and humid.
Tips to avoid a tummy upset on holiday
These are much the same as normal but it is very wise to take special precautions during pregnancy:
Always wash your hands carefully before you eat and after using the toilet. It is probably wise to wash your hands regularly during the day especially if you are travelling in a hot and dusty environment
If you are unsure whether the water is safe then always drink bottled water. It may be worth making sure also that the water is a reputable brand and not just bottled local water.
Avoid having ice in your drinks. If you do have ice then ensure that it is made from bottled water or make your own ice cubes with bottled water. If you want cold drinks then have bottles with sealed tops and cans that have been kept in a fridge.
Avoid eating food that may have been left out for a while or if you do not know how long it has been on display and make sure that all food is well cooked and that meat is not pink inside. Shellfish are more likely to cause tummy upsets so it may be best avoided.
Skin care while on holiday
During the second trimester you may notice that your nipples become darker and you may develop on your skin a dark line running up your "bump" known as the linea nigra. There may also be darker patches of skin on your face. This is because your body develops more melanin during pregnancy and this affects the pigmentation of the skin. Exposure to strong sunlight can intensify the linea nigra and also the pigmentation on the face.
Make sure everyday that you cover all exposed skin with a good quality high factor sunscreen -SPF Factor 15 or more. Wear a hat if you can and relax in the shade so that you don't get hot and uncomfortable.
Important Information to take with you
Car Travel in Pregnancy
There is no reason to avoid car travel in pregnancy provided you make regular stops to stretch and have "toilet" breaks on long journeys. In late pregnancy it may be best to avoid driving if you can so that you are not too uncomfortable and close to the steering wheel
Remember to wear your safety belt and ensure that it is comfortable and not over the bump. The amniotic fluid surrounding the baby will provide a cushion and help keep the baby safe.
Airbags are safe in pregnancy provided that your safety belt is buckled securely and you sit well back from the dashboard and steering wheel. Readjust the steering wheel if possible or use a cushion to sit on to make driving more comfortable. Should there be any impact then the airbag should spread the force of it.
If you do have even a minor accident then it is best to get checked out by a doctor to make sure that everything is both ok with you and the baby.
If you are having morning sickness then long journeys by car may increase your nausea so make sure to have regular stops especially if you feel queasy
On long journeys your feet and legs may be inclined to swell especially in warm weather so just as with air travel, stretch and walk when you can to improve the circulation. Wriggle your toes and rotate your ankles and remember to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
If you are doing lots of driving especially if you are travelling alone it may be best to ensure that you are carrying a mobile phone just in case you feel unwell or the car breaks down. It may be a good time to become a member of a breakdown service such as the AA or RAC, or to ensure that your car insurance covers you for roadside assistance should you breakdown.