From choosing your destination to keeping comfortable on the plane, here are our top tips for flying abroad when you’re expecting a baby.
Time your trip well
If you’re feeling well and you’ve discussed your plans with your GP or midwife, it’s perfectly possible to fly during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. However, many women feel nauseous and exhausted during this period, so if that’s you, why not wait until you can really enjoy your holiday?
If you’ve experienced spotting, high blood pressure, severe morning sickness or a previous miscarriage, your doctor will probably advise you to avoid flying for now.
During the second trimester (14-27 weeks), nausea usually subsides and energy levels increase, giving you the perfect excuse to enjoy a trip abroad. Make the most of this opportunity, as you might find flying uncomfortable and tiring once you reach the third trimester. Most airlines won’t allow pregnant women to fly with them after 36 weeks, although this drops to 32 weeks for multiple pregnancies.
Choose your country carefully
Because vaccinations aren’t always safe for pregnant women, it’s best to choose a holiday destination where you won’t encounter any dangerous diseases. Malaria and yellow fever pose a particularly high risk, as some anti-malarial medication isn’t safe for mums-to-be and the yellow fever vaccine contains a small amount of potentially harmful live virus. If you really need to travel to an affected area, ask your GP for guidance.
You should also consider postponing your trip if you’re travelling to a country where the Zika virus is active. Talk to your GP and check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s website for detailed advice.
Travelling in the summer? Then you’ll want to avoid uncomfortably hot countries, particularly if you’ll be heavily pregnant when you travel. It’s also worth remembering that your risk of suffering from blood clots and varicose veins increases slightly on flights over five hours.
Wherever you decided to go, always check that your holiday insurance covers you after 28 weeks and that it includes medical care if you go into labour unexpectedly.
Carry key information
A copy of your maternity notes is essential hand luggage if you’re flying while pregnant. We also suggest noting down your blood type, any allergies to medications and your doctor’s contact details.
Once you’re 28 weeks pregnant, you’ll need to carry a letter or certificate from your doctor or midwife. This should confirm your due date, as well stating that you’re well enough to travel and that there are no complications. It’s worth asking your airline whether a prewritten letter is available, although your GP may still charge you for signing it.
Don’t forget to apply for an EHIC card, which entitles you to free or reduced cost emergency medical care while abroad. If you apply via the official website, the card won’t cost you a penny and you’ll be covered for five years.
Prepare for take-off
Frequent trips to the toilet are an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy, so why not reserve an aisle seat when you book your flight? You’ll be able to nip to the loo without disturbing your fellow passengers and it will be easier for you to move about, reducing your chance of developing varicose veins and blood clots.
Talking of blood clots, don’t forget to pop your compression stockings on before you fly, as these will improve your circulation and prevent swelling. Flexing your foot, rotating your ankles and wiggling your toes at regular intervals can also help, but you should always seek help if you notice any redness or tenderness in your legs.
To make sure that you feel relaxed throughout the flight, it’s best to wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes with adjustable straps. Position your seatbelt under your bump, make sure you have plenty of water with you to avoid dehydration and pack some energy boosting fresh or dried fruit.
Finally, don’t worry about going through airport scanners, as they use a low-frequency electromagnetic field and are safe for pregnant women.
Take our tips on board and you’ll find that your flight is the perfect opportunity to relax, enjoy a snooze and get lost in a good book. After all, once you’ve had your baby, flying will become a completely different experience!Rebecca Patterson