Before you travel
Before you travel, think about your destination. Could you get medical help if you needed it? Are any immunisations needed which might be harmful to the pregnancy?
If you’re travelling to Europe, make sure you that you have a European Health Insurance Card (formerly known as E111), which entitles you to free medical treatment while abroad.
You can apply online for an EHIC, which is free of charge.
Travelling by air
It is safe for women with uncomplicated pregnancies to travel by air. However, if you have excessive morning sickness or there is a threat of miscarriage, your doctor may recommend that you should not fly in the first three months of pregnancy.
During the last two months of pregnancy, you should not fly if you have raised blood pressure or if you have an increased risk of premature labour.
Always check with the airline or holiday company about their rules on pregnant passengers before you book. Some airlines will allow you to fly beyond the recommended period, but many airlines will need a letter from your midwife or doctor detailing when you are due to give birth.
As travelling by plane can be quite cramped, it is important to ask the airline about the options available to make your trip more comfortable.
These may include:
- booking an additional seat next to you so that you have more room
- asking for a seat with additional leg room
- asking to be upgraded to first/club/business class, some of which will have beds
- asking to be seated where you can easily get out of your seat and stretch, for example, near the rear of the plane or on the aisle
It is likely that some of these options will add to the cost of your flight and the price will vary from airline to airline, depending on the journey.
During the flight
There are a number of things you can do while flying to make sure you are as comfortable and safe as possible.
Pregnant women are at higher risk from Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), potentially fatal blood clots in veins, especially in the leg area.
To minimise the risk, you can try the following:
- wear special DVT socks, which you can buy in pharmacies and airport shops
- take a break from your seat every hour or so and walk around, performing some simple stretches
- avoid wearing tight clothing
- wear comfortable shoes, or no shoes at all, as your feet may swell up
- drink plenty of water and fruit juice –avoid food and drink that will dehydrate you (for example, tea and coffee)
Travelling by road
Travelling by road in a coach or by car is safe during pregnancy, but if the journey is long and you aren’t moving for long periods of time, then you are at risk of DVT.
Follow the tips suggested above for flying while pregnant to make travelling by road as safe and comfortable as possible.
Road accidents are among the most common causes of injury to pregnant women. To protect yourself and your baby, always wear your seatbelt with the diagonal strap across your body between your breasts and with the lap belt over your upper thighs. The straps should lie above and below your bump, not across it.
Travelling by boat
Many ferry operators have similar guidelines to airlines, so make sure you speak to them before you book. Ferries have plenty of room for you to walk around and stretch, and you can ask about booking reclining seats or a cabin for longer trips.
Travelling by rail
There are currently no restrictions on pregnant women travelling abroad by rail.
Make sure that you are fully covered on your insurance policy, not just for the flight, but for your whole holiday. Insurance companies will have a similar set of rules and regulations to the travel companies.