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Travelling for two: Advice for pregnant holiday-makers

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Dragging bags through an airport and long car rides are not the most memorable aspects of anyone's holiday - and if you already happen to be carrying a little extra baggage because you're pregnant, those memories may be all you will remember unless you plan your trip well.

Experts say pregnant women need not be deterred from travelling. 

For those intending to fly, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) says if you have a straightforward pregnancy and are healthy, there is no evidence that the changes in air pressure or the decrease in humidity will have a harmful effect on you or your baby.

Also, although anyone who flies is exposed to a slight increase in radiation, occasional flights are not considered a risk either.

Experts at the RCOG say the safest time to fly is before 37 weeks if you are carrying 1 baby and before 32 weeks if you have an uncomplicated twin pregnancy.

Most airlines do not allow women to fly after 37 weeks and it may also be more difficult to get travel insurance from this time.

When travelling by boat, ferry companies have their own rules and may refuse women who are more than 32 weeks pregnant. Some companies require women to carry a doctor's certificate after 28 weeks.

It’s always best to seek medical advice if you are planning to travel, especially in the first trimester and after 28 weeks.

Pregnancy travel tips

Whether travelling by plane, boat or car, it’s advisable to avoid sitting for long periods. When travelling by car, stop regularly for a break and a quick walk to stretch your legs. When flying, keep your legs working at least once per hour and walk in the corridor of the plane. This becomes even more important as you get to the third trimester. On long-haul flights, compression stockings (flight socks) can help avoid the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

One tip for pregnant women travelling in the passenger seat of a car is to place a box on the floor so that you can elevate your feet slightly above the ground, and avoid compressing the backs of your legs.

However, comfort is not the only concern for pregnant women on the move. In the car, it’s still important to ensure you are safely belted in, with the cross strap across the breasts and the lap strap across the pelvis (under rather than across the stomach). Seat belts protect the unborn baby as well as the mother. The same goes for air bags. It’s best to position the car seat as far back as comfortable for driving and as a passenger. Pregnant women behind the wheel are also advised to adjust the wheel so that it is aimed at the chest, which is where the air bag will function best and means it will not deploy right over the abdomen.

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