Whether your pregnancy was meticulously planned, medically coaxed, or happened by surprise, one thing is certain -- your life will never be the same.
The world today is a very small place. Be it for business or pleasure, travel plays a significant role in our lives. As with most other aspects of your life, the rules change slightly when you are pregnant – but don’t panic if you need to travel during this time. The days of pregnant women being confined to their homes are long gone, but before you pack your bags, make sure you know all the facts to ensure that you and baby stay healthy. Bear in mind that this advice applies particularly to pregnancies without complications. Always consult your doctor before embarking on any major journey – especially if you have already experienced problems or are considered ‘high-risk’.
It is wise to plan to travel predominantly in your second trimester. This is the time that you will be at your most comfortable physically; and the risks of miscarriage and preterm labour are at their lowest. Your destination must also be carefully considered – avoid countries that require you to have any vaccinations. Few vaccines have been adequately tested and most are considered harmful to unborn babies. Also, take into account the quality of the medical care in the country you are travelling to. Avoid malaria areas at all costs.
Always consult with your doctor before flying - he will asses any risks unique to your pregnancy. Generally speaking, women with gestational diabetes or multiple foetuses will be advised not to fly.
If your pregnancy has been uncomplicated, air travel should not be a problem up until the 36th week. Most airlines do not allow pregnant women to fly after this time (births at 30 000 ft are best left in the movies). Be sure to arrange that you stay as comfortable as possible:
- Book a seat with as much legroom as possible and always opt for an aisle seat. This will allow you to get up and walk around on long flights, thus avoiding swelling and blood clots in the veins of the legs. (Only walk around when the seat belt signs are off and steady yourself as you go.)
- Dress comfortably.
- Drink plenty of water, dehydration is a real possibility whilst flying and puts your baby in danger.
- Wear your seatbelt, trying to keep it low over the pelvis, under your belly.
- If you feel short of breath or light-headed, ask a flight attendant to administer oxygen.
- Keep a medical kit in your hand luggage – pack remedies that may come in handy for heartburn, constipation, haemorrhoids, oral dehydration, nausea etc.
Regardless of your chosen mode of travel, be sure to check the conditions of your travel insurance and read the small print.
Lastly, if you’re going on holiday, be sensible and make informed choices about the activities you participate in. Sports such as water skiing, scuba diving and mountain climbing place your baby at risk.