Travelling while pregnant

Travelling by most forms of transport is completely safe throughout pregnancy, but there are some specific regulations for air travel you should be aware of. If you're planning on travelling abroad, you should speak to your midwife or doctor first.

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 are travelling to Europe, make sure that you have a European Health Insurance Card (formerly known as E111), which entitles you to free 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 the pregnancy you should not fly if you have raised blood pressure or if you have an increased risk of premature labour.

Pregnant passengers flying

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.

Flying comfortably

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.

During the flight

There are a number of things you can do to make sure you are comfortable and safe.

Pregnant women are at higher risk from Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) - potentially fatal blood clots in veins, particularly in the leg area.

To minimise the risk, you can try the following:

  • wear special DVT socks - available to 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, 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 from DVT.

Follow the tips as suggested above for flying while pregnant.

Safety on the move

Road accidents are among the most common causes of injury in 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 over it.

Travelling by rail

There are currently no restrictions on pregnant women travelling abroad by rail.

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.

Travel insurance

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.

Insurance companies will have a similar set of rules and regulations to the travel companies.

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