Travelling while pregnant

Published by Alison Potter
Published on 18 February 2008

Unless you have a high-risk pregnancy there's no reason why holidays are out of the question, but bear in mind the restrictions your condition imposes on your travels when you go abroad.

Boots UK pharmacist Angela Chalmers has shared with us the things you need to know about travelling while pregnant. These top tips will help to ensure that you get the most of your holiday before the upcoming arrival of your little one.

"Travelling when pregnant is generally safe as long as you prepare and take reasonable precautions. But this all depends on your current health status and where you are travelling to - definitely check the NHS choices website for advice before you go," Angela says.

"Each airline will have its own policy on when you can and can't fly so consult with them before booking. Most airlines require a letter from your midwife or doctor to say you are safe to travel and free from complications if more than 28 weeks pregnant."

Before you set off

First of all inform your doctor of your plans and holiday destination, and listen carefully to his advice.

As well as packing beach towels and sunscreen, there are several essential items that you must take with you.

Angela recommends: "Carry your maternity notes with you as your midwife always reminds you not to leave home without your notes! This will prove at what stage in your pregnancy you are if they question whether you are safe to fly."

"If travelling in Europe remember to get E111 cards as this entitles you to essential medical care for free. Without this card you could be charged for seeing a doctor."

Also find out about nearby hospitals and access to medical care where you are staying.

Travelling while pregnant Angela says: "This is wise regardless of your trimester. You want to know where you need to go without delay to get the best maternity care possible."

Choose your destination with care

You can journey to faraway climes for the first few months, but it's ill-advised to do so fromthe seventh month onwards.

Try not to go anywhere where you'll be over-exposed to the sun, as most mums-to-be suffer in the heat.

"Pregnant women will be more likely to have swelling and water retention. Keep well hydrated and avoid extreme heat where possible," Angela explains.

"Follow the same safe sun rules as everyone else - avoid the strong midday sun between 11am and 3pm, wear adequate SPF and reapply liberally and often."

In terms of what kind of activities can you do and which should you avoid, Angela advises against doing anything too high-energy.

"Extreme sports and water sports can be dangerous so should naturally be avoided. A gentle walk or swim is safe," she says.

If you're travelling to exotic destinations, protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing long sleeves, covering up legs and using mosquito repellent.

"Ask your pharmacist about suitable insect repellents to use in pregnancy as this varies by brand," Angela advises.

Stick to the same pregnancy diet rules as dictated by your doctor, but also be wary of raw produce - peel your fruit and vegetables, always make sure meat is well cooked and only drink water from a sealed bottle.

Angela says: "Take precautions to avoid food poisoning and avoid the usual no-go food suspects."

As well as all this, it's sensible to go somewhere you don't need vaccinations for.

Travelling while pregnant "Avoidance is best but sometimes cannot be helped. You must speak to your doctor about the risk/benefits of vaccination in pregnancy, to help you come to an informed decision," Angela explains.

Travel in comfort
It's essential you travel in comfort, so as not to be at risk of miscarriage or premature birth.

When travelling by car, plane or train, Angela recommends getting up regularly.

"Every 30 minutes stretch your legs. That's sensible to help keep healthy circulation and help to avoid blood clots."

"If you have health concerns, speak to your GP. Especially about the risk of deep vein thrombosis and whether you need to purchase compression hosiery for your travels," she says.

Happy travels - make sure you take the opportunity to put your feet up and rest before everything changes and you become a parent!

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