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Hopping on a plane to backpack around Europe isn’t the best idea when you’re expecting, but that doesn’t mean travelling is taboo. Pregnant women should just “exercise common sense” says Doctor Cheryl Kay from The Travel Doctor.

Travelling when pregnant is possible if you plan ahead.

en route

  • There are time limits to travelling when pregnant says Kay. Travel in the second trimester if possible. You’ll be busy getting scans and checkups in the first trimester and in the last four weeks you could go into labour.
  • If you’re flying, check with the airline about their pregnancy restrictions. Most airlines will not allow you to fly if you are more than 36 weeks pregnant. Book an aisle seat, preferably with extra leg room, so you can get out easily to walk around, stretch or use the toilet. Note that airlines won’t allow you to sit next to the emergency exits.
  • If you’re flying a long distance, take two shorter flights rather than one long one. When driving long distances, stop often for rests and stretches.
  • Get plenty of fluid says Kay, and keep some snacks on you in case of nausea.
  • When driving, don’t place the seatbelt across your belly. The lower strap should go under your belly and the upper strap should cross over your shoulder and above your belly.
  • If you want to go on a cruise, you’ll need to clear it with the cruise company and Kay recommends checking if there is a medical doctor on board.

medical matters

  • Before going away, get the all-clear from your gynaecologist, advises Kay.
  • If you have pregnancy complications, a chronic disorder such as asthma or hypertension, or you’re carrying twins, you shouldn’t travel unnecessarily.
  • Pregnant women are also more prone to urinary tract infections, so Kay recommends drinking plenty of water.
  • If you won’t have easy access to a doctor, think about taking along a dipstick test and a course of safe antibiotics.
  • Don’t travel to malaria areas as most malaria medication is unsafe. If you have to, speak to your doctor about when to go and what medication to take. Pregnant women also shouldn’t take any live vaccine, such as for yellow fever.
  • Take along necessary documents including: a recent scan, your vaccination records, travel insurance, your blood group in case you need a transfusion, and medication scripts if needed. Also make a note of your doctor’s number, the number of a doctor where you’re going and a nearby hospital’s number.
  • Keep any medication, vitamins or other essentials on you or in your hand luggage.

destination do’s and don’ts

  • Give adventure holidays a miss while you’re pregnant. However, Kay says you can still enjoy walking, easy-going hiking or swimming, which are all good activities for moms-to-be.
  • When in the sun use stronger sunscreen.
  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing and non-slip, supportive shoes.
  • Don’t start doing new activities when pregnant and avoid doing anything that could cause you to fall, such as riding a horse or bicycle.
  • Avoid using saunas and hot tubs, and check if spa treatments are safe.
  • Make sure you are well prepared for your holiday. Take a hand sanitiser with you and check out restaurants before booking a table.

Tamlyn Vincent