With careful preparation, travelling while pregnant can be safe, but the necessary precautions should be taken. The decision to travel should be made in consultation with your health care provider or a travel health clinic to discuss the destination, planned activities, and pregnancy-related complications, among other things.
Standards of medical care are not the same in all countries. These differences should be considered before travel. Find out about the health risks before you leave so you are not caught unprepared. Also, make sure that you have proper travel health insurance and carefully review the coverage. Some policies do not automatically cover pregnancy-related conditions or hospital care for premature infants.
Where possible, when travelling to a destination that recommends vaccination, receiving the necessary vaccinations before becoming pregnant is preferred.
Generally speaking, it is advised that pregnant women avoid live vaccines. However, other types of vaccines can be safely administered. The decision to get vaccinated while pregnant should be evaluated with your health care provider, taking into consideration several factors such as the destination, the length of the trip and the risk of contracting the disease.
Malaria and Zika virus
While malaria can cause major health problems for a mother and her baby, Zika virus can cause severe birth defects (e.g., microcephaly). Pregnant women should avoid traveling to areas where these diseases are present. If travel cannot be postponed, strict mosquito bite prevention should be followed. For more on the measures that should be taken, speak to your health care provider.
The safest time to travel is between the 18th and the 24th week of pregnancy. In the absence of medical or obstetrical complications, women can safely fly up to 36 weeks. However, most airlines restrict travel in late pregnancy or require written confirmation from a physician. Check airline policies prior to booking your flight.
Pregnant women also have a higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). To lower the risk of DVT, get up and walk around, move and stretch your legs, wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes. The use of compression stockings may also be recommended.
Many water-borne diseases can be more severe during pregnancy and pose a risk to the unborn baby. Drink water only if it has been boiled or disinfected or if it is in a commercially sealed bottle. Avoid using iodine for water purification for an extended period of time as it could cause the fetus to develop thyroid problems.