Although it's generally safe to travel during your pregnancy, you may find that long journeys in the early and later stages of your pregnancy can be uncomfortable. Additionally, if you need to travel late in pregnancy or abroad, it may be advisable to check with your doctor or healthcare professional first. Remember, if you do intend to visit a foreign country, you should take all the necessary precautions to protect yourself against food-related and other potential hazards.
There are a few basic tips that may help to make your journey more comfortable:
- give yourself plenty of time for your journey
- try to break up your trip and/or get up and move around whenever possible to allow yourself to have a good stretch and keep your circulation going
- take some nutritious snacks and drink along with you for emergencies
- it is important to ensure adequate fluid intake during pregnancy, especially when travelling, when one can easily become dehydrated
- don't sit for long periods of time but get up and stretch your legs.
Air travel is usually fine during early pregnancy, although in late pregnancy it may not be advisable in case you go into labour while on the plane, or while away from home. You should also check with the airline you intend to use before booking your flight: some will not allow you to fly after a certain stage of pregnancy or will request a medical certificate, or you may need a letter from your doctor.
On most airlines, women who are over 34–36 weeks pregnant aren't allowed to fly because of the risk of thrombosis and early delivery.
If you do fly, make sure that you drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, and try to eat as lightly as possible as you may find that you are more susceptible to travel sickness. Earplugs and eye masks may also be useful if you need to sleep.
Travelling by car or driving can be quite tiring when you are pregnant, so it's best to avoid long trips at the early and later stages of pregnancy. If you do need to go on a long drive, try to have regular stop-offs.
Before you set out, make sure that your seatbelt is secured comfortably: the shoulder/diagonal strap should be placed between the breasts, above the baby, and the lower strap as low as possible under your bump, not across the baby. A cushion placed at the small of your back may also help to prevent backache.
If you're planning a trip abroad and need to be inoculated/vaccinated/immunised, let your doctor know as soon as possible. Some vaccinations are best avoided during pregnancy. The WHO (World Health Organisation) also advises pregnant women against travelling to countries where there are risks of serious infectious diseases such as cholera and malaria. You should always check with your doctor before you travel.