Travelling whilst pregnant is very common. However, there are a number of factors important for pregnant women to consider before they pack their bags or even by their tickets. Before you decide to travel:
Some destinations require vaccinations, particularly in the developing world. Some vaccines (hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) are safe and recommended for pregnant women who are travelling to places where they are at risk. However, the majority of live-virus vaccines (yellow fever, oral polio, oral typhoid) are not recommended for pregnant women as they are not considered safe for the unborn child. Pregnant women should discuss their travel destinations with their doctor to determine what vaccines might be suitable or consult a travel medicine specialist.
Airlines have restrictions for pregnant women, and you may need to provide some information to determine whether it is suitable for you to travel by plane. These may include:
A certificate or letter from a registered medical practitioner/midwife if you are 28 weeks or more pregnant. The certificate/letter confirms the estimated date of birth and that there are no complications or increased risk(coffee, tea, coke) with your pregnancy (multiple births, history of preterm labour).
Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) while flying. You can reduce your risk by using footrests if available, drinking plenty of water during the flight and doing in-flight exercises. Compression stockings may be recommended for longer trips.
Adequate travel insurance and health insurance is vital. You may need to shop around to ensure you have the most coverage to meet your needs as some policies consider pregnancy a pre-existing condition and will not provide cover for pregnancy-related complications. Others may only provide coverage up to a certain week of pregnancy. It is also wise to check that your policy covers your newborn and birthing costs should you give birth prematurely.
Generally, women who are experiencing the following circumstances are advised not to travel (this would be confirmed by your health care provider):
- History of premature labour/birth
- Cervical shortening
- Vaginal bleeding
- Pre-eclampsia (history of or present)
- Multiple pregnancies
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Abnormalities of the placenta (Placenta Previa, Vasa Previa)