5 top tips for travelling while pregnant
You’ve survived first-trimester morning sickness and now that you’re feeling more human, it’s occurred to you how wonderful it would be to get away before the baby arrives and you’re possibly housebound for a wee while until things settle down.
First-time parents especially are keen to take a babymoon, a portmanteau of “baby” and “honeymoon”, to have special time together as a couple before their lives are changed forever by the arrival of their little one. And families with children may want one last holiday before the baby comes, so head off to the bach or to an island for some R+R together before their brood expands.
Whatever your holiday plans, when you’re pregnant, there are a few extra things to consider before you hop into the car or on a plane.
- How far along are you? Many pregnant women travel in the second or early third trimester, as they feel better and can still get around without waddling (too much). But if you’re travelling after 26 weeks, many travel insurance companies won’t cover you on a “regular” travel insurance policy. Also, airlines have their own restrictions about how far along they’ll permit pregnant passengers to be, so check before you book plane tickets.
- Can you drive instead? It’s often easier and more comfortable to drive to your destination, as you can stop whenever you need to in order to stretch your legs, go to the toilet, and rest. Let’s face it: Economy Class is miserable at the best of times, so avoid it at all costs.
- Does your LMC think it’s okay for you to travel? Before you go anywhere, run it by your LMC to ensure there are no concerns which might limit your ability to travel. You may need to stay close to a hospital or medical centre, or you may have a medical condition which means you need to take special care. Also, it’s a good idea to get a letter from your LMC confirming your due date and stating that you are cleared to fly. Airlines may ask for this or even want to have proof of your due date when you’re checking in for your flight, so be prepared.
- Does your destination have the right medical care? If you should end up delivering your baby prematurely or unexpectedly while you’re on holiday, is the location you’re travelling to one which has modern medical technology available, just in case? Some of the islands in particular don’t have major hospitals, so keep this in mind. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Are you travelling to a developing country? You might need special immunisations (and there might be some which aren’t recommended during pregnancy), and there may be locations which aren’t safe for pregnant women (such as countries with confirmed cases of the Zika virus, or countries where safe food and water aren’t readily available). Check safetravel.govt.nz for advisories and info.
- Will you be able to be in contact with your LMC? It’s probably not the right time to plan an off-the-grid adventure holiday where you only have human contact via satellite phone every five days.
- When will you be home? It’s better to travel early, while there’s still plenty of time before your due date. Not only will you be more comfortable (as those late-pregnancy niggles like difficulty sleeping and swollen ankles will still be far off in the future), it’s also safer – so you’re not risking giving birth in a helicopter while you’re being airlifted off a tropical island.
Most importantly, if you do choose to travel while you’re pregnant, make the most of it! New babies bring with them all sorts of schedule changes and surprising things you need to adapt to (not least the amount of paraphernalia they require when you’re travelling with them), so enjoy the luxury of having only a few bags and ample time to eat a meal without interruptions while you still can.