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A pregnant woman is clearly not sick or disabled, but discomforts such as constipation and water retention do commonly occur during pregnancy. Travelling whilst pregnant need not however be problematic provided certain common sense precautions are taken. Before departure, be sure to check that:

  • Your travel insurance covers travelling when pregnant and will meet the cost of repatriation should that prove necessary.
  • There are adequate medical facilities at your destination to cope with complications during childbirth.
  • Scheduled obstetric checks can be carried out at your destination.
  • HIV and Hepatitis B tests have already been done (take your blood group card with you)
  • Food suitable for pregnant women is available during the journey and at the destination, such as pasteurized milk and bottled water.

The safest time to travel is during the second trimester, from the fourth to the sixth month of pregnancy. Most pregnant women feel at their fittest during this period and the risk of spontaneous abortion or premature birth is relatively low. While travelling, do be alert for conditions that deviate from normal discomforts. Contact a doctor immediately if you experience any bleeding (especially if this includes blood clots), abdominal cramps, swollen legs, headaches or problems affecting your vision.

When not to travel?

It is unwise to travel to a tropical country for the first time if you are pregnant. If it is not essential for you to make the trip (e.g. it is a holiday) then we advise choosing a different destination or postponing the trip until after the baby has been born. Business travellers should be aware that in some cultures women are treated very differently when pregnant, which can have a negative impact on the outcome of any business meeting.

Women with obstetric risk factors such as a previous miscarriage or pre-eclampsia are advised to avoid travelling. The same is generally true of women who have other increased health risks, for example of heart-valve failure or who suffer from severe anaemia. Travelling to areas where it is known there are potentially serious endemic health risks is also not recommended, such as destinations at high altitude or where severe forms of malaria are prevalent. Some vaccinations recommended for certain countries can be harmful to both the expectant mother and the unborn child. Pregnant women are also particularly susceptible to travellers' diarrhoea and air travel can also pose additional risks. In certain circumstances therefore a pregnant woman may simply be advised not to travel. Of course it is up to the individual whether or not to take this advice.

Specific advice if flying

  • You should always consult a doctor beforehand if you suffer from severe anaemia or any other serious illness.
  • As a precautionary measure and to avoid disputes, always carry documents with you showing how far the pregnancy has progressed.
  • Try to secure an aisle seat for more legroom and greater comfort.
  • Get up and walk around every half hour to prevent thrombosis.
  • Drink plenty of water because the air in a plane can be very dry.
  • Most airlines no longer welcome pregnant women after the 36th week of pregnancy because of the risk that they may go into labour whilst on the plane. Check before booking what the policy of your chosen airline is.