Pregnancy is an exciting period in a woman's life. Perhaps you're looking for some rest and relaxation before your bundle of joy is brought in to the world and a holiday is the perfect answer. Although when you're pregnant, it is important to remember that there may be exclusions or restrictions that will apply; prepare and do your research prior to travelling to make sure you don't encounter any hiccups along the way. Our pregnancy guide has all the answers to help you decide if travelling is right for you.
Travelling whilst you are pregnant can often leave you stressed out and exhausted, not to mention uncomfortable. Alpha Travel Insurance have developed these tips to help you be at your most relaxed and most comfortable, to ensure you have a great trip.
Choosing a Destination
When it comes to choosing a destination, a favourite place you went to before the pregnancy may not be ideal now you have a baby on the way. You need to think about what kind of trip will suit you during the pregnancy. Hot destinations may prove to be a nightmare as the excess heat may affect you both during the day and while sleeping if you're not used to it. Places that require lots of walking or hills may also take their toll; a beach or city break may be the answer. Make sure you do lots of research prior to choosing where to go.
Timing Your Trip
No one wants to travel when they can hardly keep breakfast down in their first trimester of pregnancy, and no one feels like sitting in economy class or the passenger seat of a car when they feel huge in their third, so that's why timing your trip whilst pregnant is essential for 'making it a good one'.
Some women can travel easily throughout all three trimesters, which can be kind of annoying for those who don't travel well throughout any of them. However, there are different factors to consider when planning your trip that may contribute towards you feeling better whilst moving around.
As your pregnancy progresses, your feelings towards travel may change. Pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and vomiting combined with aches and pains may mean that the trip you planned during the early stages may not be your cup of tea later on.
Your growing baby bump may mean that you get uncomfortable quickly or are kept awake at night, therefore potentially interfering with the overall enjoyment of your holiday. You may be happier having a UK staycation break which is closer to home instead of travelling abroad.
Some women choose to avoid travelling throughout the first trimester as they are usually really tired and the risk of miscarrying is a lot higher, so they would prefer to be closer to their own GP or consultant.
The second trimester (between 14 and 28 weeks) is usually the recommended time to travel for pregnant women as your energy levels are at their highest, there isn't the risk of miscarriage as in the first trimester and you don't feel like just one huge big belly as you might in your third. It can be great fun to explore new places and shop for maternity clothing or things for the baby in a new city, just as your body is beginning to demand more space.
The third, and last, trimester is usually the period where complications with your pregnancy mean you are restricted to bed-rest or need more frequent medical check-ups, so some women avoid scheduling in travelling time here so that they don't need to cancel.
Vaccinations and Medication
You may already have your heart set on a destination, but have you thought about vaccines and medication? When visiting certain destinations, a series of vaccinations and medication (such as anti-malaria tablets) needs to be arranged prior to travel. However, vaccinations are not recommended for pregnant women due to the virus and bacteria in the jab that could harm your growing baby. Certain medicines may also not be suitable.
However, if you really must travel to areas that require inoculation, then you should have your jabs. Catching an infectious tropical disease abroad will of course outweigh the risks of having vaccinations.
We recommend booking an appointment with your Doctor or Midwife in advance to discuss your travel options in more detail.
To avoid all confusion completely, and in the best possible situation a woman would be fully immunized against all of these diseases before she falls pregnant, but for the instances in which this isn't the case, Alpha have devised this easy to read table for those confused by pregnancy and travel vaccinations:
Unless you're travelling to Europe by train, most far-flung destinations will involve airline travel. Flying while pregnant is not harmful to either you or your baby.
Some airlines allow women to travel at any point in their pregnancy, whereas others are more strict allowing travel up to 36 weeks (32 if carrying more than one child). Some have cut-off dates as early as 24 weeks, whilst others go as late as 38. If you've had any previous pregnancy problems or operations, this may be reduced even further. Each individual airline imposes their own exclusions and regulations regarding flying while pregnant, so always check these with your airline provider.
Once you reach 27 weeks the majority of airlines will require you to provide a letter from your Doctor. This letter will need to state that you are fit to fly, as well as your due date and confirmation that you won't be likely to go in to labour early. Other carriers ask for nothing more than a doctor's note to say you are fit to fly, so make sure you visit your GP or consultant before you depart the UK. Your Doctor will be able to provide all the information that you need, but we recommend asking your airline first to confirm what is required.
Travel insurance providers don't class pregnancy as an "œillness" - far from it! Pregnancy is a natural and wonderful experience for a woman.
Taking out travel insurance before you go on a trip is essential as it's important to consider what you will do should an emergency medical situation involving you and your baby arises. You will not need to declare your pregnancy to your provider and Alpha Travel Insurance doesn't charge you extra just for being pregnant, although you will need to include any complications you have had or any related medical issues (such as high blood pressure). Not all insurance providers are the same and each one will have different rules and limits: for example, if you travel late in the stages of pregnancy your risk of complications are greater, therefore insurers may limit travel after a certain date.
Our policies include emergency medical expenses cover for pregnancy and childbirth from week 0 to week 28 whilst you are away. From the start of week 29 to week 40 of the pregnancy, there is no cover for claims relating to normal pregnancy and normal childbirth or cancellation, however, medical expenses and cancellation cover will be provided if any of the following complications arise: Toxaemia, Gestational hypertension, Ectopic pregnancy, Post-partum haemorrhage, Pre-eclampsia, Molar pregnancy or hydatidiform mole, Retained placenta membrane, Placental abruption,Hyperemesis gravidarum, Placenta praevia, Stillbirth, Miscarriage, Emergency Caesarean, A termination needed for medical reasons, Premature birth more than 12 weeks (or 16 weeks if you know you are having more than one baby) before the expected delivery date. Please note we will not cover denial of boarding by your carrier so you should check that you will be able to travel with the carrier/airline in advance as regulations vary from one carrier/airline to another.
Make sure you get a constant supply of fresh air (not air conditioned) and drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated throughout your journey. Have a stash of energy food with you, such as fruit and nuts, to keep your energy levels up as well as taking regular stop-off breaks to stretch and walk around.
Wearing a seatbelt can be uncomfortable for many pregnant woman, although they are a requirement by law. To make things easier wear the cross strap of the seatbelt between your breasts and the lap strap underneath your bump (not across). This will help to avoid any injury to the baby if the seatbelt is pulled tight. Road accidents are one of the most common causes of pregnancy related injury, therefor we strongly recommend sharing the driving with someone else and avoiding making long distance trips on your own.
Eating and Drinking Abroad
So you've arrived at your destination! Take caution when eating and drinking in foreign restaurants as stomach upsets and traveller's diarrhea are common in some countries. Check if tap water is safe to drink as well as things such as ice cubes; if in doubt, buy or order bottled water.
Hunger is probably a familiar friend now that you're pregnant, but missing meals even if you're busy can put you at risk of feeling awful or even fainting. Before you depart the UK, make sure you pack plenty of healthy snacks and unopened bottles of water into your hand luggage as this will enable you to stay refreshed and hydrated when those pangs of hunger or thirst begin to strike.
It's extremely important for pregnant women to avoid becoming dehydrated. Flying or travelling by airplane dehydrates you more than you might think, so make sure you consume extra fluids to make up to it - this stops you from getting swollen feet, too.
On holiday, your eating routine always inevitably gets disrupted. Try and minimise the amount that your usual routine is disrupted but by eating little but well and often. Keep eating regular, nutritious meals after you arrive at your destination - a well-balanced diet is extremely important for both you and your baby. If you're visiting a country where you are unable to get a daily amount of fresh fruit or vegetables, consider taking vitamin and mineral supplements.
Maximise Your Energy
If you're in the first few months of your pregnancy, chances are that travel is likely to make you feel exhausted very easily. Even if being a busy-body has always been a part of your daily routine, and whether you're used to climbing mountains and going on day-long hikes or tours throughout bustling foreign cities, now is the time you have to listen to your body and slow down.
After you've gone through the most stressful part -getting to your destination, make sure you schedule in daily 'quiet' times in between events in your itinerary. Even if it involves taking a bath, reading on a beach or spending a quiet evening in, you can become rested and feel energised enough to tackle the next day.
You could try and completely reduce any travel-related stress by staying at home for nine months, but that could be super boring. Preparing well in anticipation of your travel will go a long way in terms of reducing your stress levels (or not even having them raised in the first place) when it comes down to actually going.
Pack your sense of humour - whilst that couple on the plane with the incessant need to continuously touch each other might mean you are ready to scream or cry or scream again (hormones, ey?) but with a sense of humour you'll be able to make light of the situation and not let it stress you out. Take everything in your stride - relax, tune out and take things a step at a time.
Visit Your GP
Obviously not whilst you're abroad, as this would be impossible, but before you leave the UK it's a great idea to book in for a pre-travel check up with your doctor. Get his advice on the country you are visiting, any vaccinations you might need, get some tips on how to stay safe and comfortable throughout your pregnancy and get them to answer any other questions you might have. Your airline or cruise operator might ask you to have a fit to travel note signed by your doctor too, so make sure you grab this if necessary.
Choose Safe Activities
If you're lying in a beach in Thailand watching hundreds of others scuba-dive or about to set off exploring caves in a kayak, or riding elephants, it can be hard to sit there and just get into your book, but it is for the best. Whilst you're pregnant, it's recommended that you avoid any activity which puts you at any risk of overheating, falling or being under pressure (literally, like scuba-diving where air bubbles can form in your bloodstream as you surface). Any forceful landing or sudden acceleration could be potentially dangerous for you and your baby, causing problems either now or later on. Don't worry - there's still plenty you can do! Yoga, walking and swimming are all safe.
Take Enough Breaks
Not just toilet breaks either, despite you feeling that you need the toilet more often than you ever thought humanly possible. Our advice on this is whenever you find a clean, comfortable toilet, use it!
Sitting anywhere for long periods of time, such as in a car, on a bus or on a plane can make your feet, ankles and even legs swell or cramp, so make sure you take breaks and move around every 90 minutes at least for stretching and walking around. If there's an empty seat, put your feet up! Whilst you're sitting, make sure you rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes regularly.
Don't over-do it! Know when you feel tired, your body probably is tired, so take regular rest-breaks (an excuse to sample all of the local delicacies or go shopping for maternity stuff, or even stuff for baby). You can see everything you want to see without feeling knackered in the meantime.
Questions to ask your GP
It may seem that every single feature or article that you read about travelling whilst you're pregnant say you should check things through with your GP or consultant before you travel, but what exactly are you meant to be discussing with them?
Alpha Travel Insurance have developed this handy list of things you should ask your doctor about your pregnancy and how it effects you, before you go on your trip. You should ask your GP any questions you may have yourself, including:
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