Travelling while pregnant can be a great idea – and it can mean taking a much needed holiday before your new baby arrives! However, if you are planning any type of travel while pregnant, ensure you talk to your doctor first and keep these tips in mind.
High Risk Pregnancies
While most women can travel while pregnant without any problems, some are strongly advised against it. If you fall into any of the following categories, you should avoid unnecessary travel until after you’ve given birth (unless otherwise advised by your doctor):
- Women who are over 35 years of age and pregnant for the first time
- Women diagnosed with pre-eclampsia
- Women who have had a prior miscarriage
- Women with high blood pressure, diabetes or carrying multiple foetuses
- Women with cervical problems or vaginal bleeding
- Women who have previously delivered a premature baby
Timing Your Travel Right
If you are cleared to travel while pregnant, the best time to do so is during the second trimester. This is usually the safest time to travel. Morning sickness tends to be worst during the first trimester, and fatigue and a larger belly during the last trimester can make getting around difficult.
However, the pregnancy experience can be different for all women, so speak to your doctor if you feel you will be okay to travel.
Destinations at High Altitudes
Travelling to high elevations can lead to complications during pregnancy, particularly places more than 3,000 metres above sea level. If your travel destination lies between 3,000 and 4,000 metres above sea level limit your stay to less than 2 days, and avoid heights above 4,000 metres altogether.
Types of Travel
Travelling by Air:
- Different airlines have their own rules about flying while pregnant, so be sure to conduct your research before you book any flights
- For the vast majority of pregnant women air travel is totally safe, especially when flying in large pressurised aircraft
- When you do fly, take regular walks throughout the flight, drink plenty of water and wear compression stockings to help with circulation. Wearing your seatbelt low around your pelvic area can also assist with comfort
- While there is a slight increase in the risk of deep vein thrombosis when flying, less than 1 in every 1,000 pregnant women are affected; however, you should seek advice from your doctor about DVT before flying
- Try to avoid flying during your final 6 weeks, as this can result in premature labour
Travelling by Sea:
- The biggest danger of travelling by boat when pregnant is that it can make symptoms of morning sickness worse; otherwise it is generally a safe travelling option
- Before making any travel plans by boat, make sure you will have access to quality medical care while on board
- While travelling by sea, you should also take frequent walks, stay hydrated and stretch regularly
Travelling by Road:
- Travelling in a car, train or bus is safe while pregnant; however, if you are going on a long trip, ensure you take regular breaks and walk/stretch as much as you can
- Ensure your vehicle has air conditioning so that you don’t overheat, and staying hydrated is important too, especially in warmer weather
- If possible, put your seat back as far as possible to minimise any potential impact from air bags
- Don’t forget to wear your seatbelt, not matter what, and make sure it’s secured under your bump! Sudden jolts can be harmful to your pregnancy
- If you are involved in an accident, see your doctor immediately, even if the accident is not serious
If you plan on travelling anywhere that requires immunisation (e.g. Asia, Africa), seek advice from your doctor first, as some vaccines can be harmful to both you and your baby. In general, it is safest to travel to destinations that don’t require vaccinations and that can provide you with adequate healthcare if you experience an emergency.
Talking to Your Doctor
Remember, always discuss your travel and holiday plans with your doctor first, before you make any bookings. Your doctor will advise you if it is safe for you and your baby to travel and can also explain what you need to do while away to stay safe and what medications you may need to take with you.
Are you pregnant? Dr Matthew Wilson can advise you on whether or not travelling is safe for you. Contact our gynaecology clinic in Sydney on 02 9680 9669.