Travel in Pregnancy

When is it good to travel?

The best time to travel is when you are between 20th  to 32nd weeks of your pregnancy.

travel-free-clipartAt this time of your pregnancy you should out the other end of all the initial pregnancy concerns with miscarriage, nausea, etc and have completed all the early pregnancy testing. Betweenthese weeks you are far enough away from term gestation that labour is unlikely and you are not so big that you will be too uncomfortable, have lots of swelling, excessive tiredness and possible pregnancy complications that are more common in advanced pregnancy.

Unexpected and unpredictable developments (including the onset of labour) can occur at any stage of your pregnancy. Because of the increasing risk of labour happening, it is generally considered that you should not be embarking on traveling any significant distance from home beyond 36 completed weeks gestation for a singleton pregnancy and beyond 32 completed weeks for a twin pregnancy. Consider what considerable adverse implications there will be if you go into labour while aboard a plane in the air or you if are driving on some remote outback road or somewhere remote form home!

Qantas and Singapore Airlines advise on their website you cannot board a plane for an international flight (and in Qantas case for any flight more than four hours duration) beyond 36 completed weeks gestation for a singleton pregnancy and beyond 32 completed weeks for a twin pregnancy.

Certificate to travel

In advanced pregnancy airlines may insist you have a medical certificate stating it is safe to travel in advanced pregnancy.

Check with the airline you are travelling with to make sure. Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines on their website state this is necessary after 28 completed weeks of pregnancy. We can provide you with this certificate.

Some airlines state it should be dated within 10 days of your first flight in excess of 28 completed weeks. If you are planning on staying away for an extended period check with the airline whether you will need to get a certificate form a doctor  at your destination while you are away for your return flight.

Qantas states on their website you can travel up to four hours (viz. most domestic flights) for routine pregnancies up to the end of the 40th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 36th week for multiple pregnancies. But Qantas still wants you to to have a certificate for travel after 28 completed weeks. Personally I consider plane travel beyond 36 completed weeks gestation for a singleton pregnancy and beyond 32 completed weeks for a twin pregnancy potentially too risky.

Before deciding on traveling what do I need to do?

  • Discuss with me whether there are any special pregnancy considerations in your case that means distance travel should not happen or should cease soon.
  • Consider the quality of medical facilities that are available where you are going and, if travel by car, on the way. That is in case they are needed.
  • Accept the possibility that because of a preterm delivery or other pregnancy developments you may be stuck at a remote place for some time.
  • Check that your travel insurance (if relevant) will cover you for any unexpected pregnancy developments.
  • Consider vaccinations that are relevant and safe.
  • Take other medications with you that you may need while away overseas. To seek medical support and medications in other countries may be more expensive, confusing and there may not be of the same high standard.
  • Consider whether you are well enough travel. Being excessively tired, feeling heavy, ongoing nausea, etc while not medication contraindications are the sort of things that will make you think twice re pregnancy travel. Usually, you don’t really have to go! You will enjoy your self more and it will be safer all round if your trip can be deferred until after you have your baby.

How can I make my travel more pleasant and safer?

  • Try to have someone accompany you.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing.
  • Consider wearing antithrombotic stockings in travel (less chance of leg swelling and blood clots (deep vein thrombosis).
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Exercise and stretch on the way. If travel by plane get up and walk up and down the aisle regularly. If by car stop, get out and have a stretch regularly.
  • Comfortable seating. When flying the aisle seat is easier especially to access the toilet and going for a walk.
  • Frist class, business class or premium economy class travel is the better option if possible.
  • Limit your luggage and have a four wheel pull-on bag if possible as it is less strain on your back.

At the other end?

  • Try to relax rather than be rushing around.
  • Be more aware of the risk of food poisoning and water contamination.
  • Drink bottles water rather than tap water.
  • Stay in comfortable and clean accommodation.
  • Call/email/Facebook message me if any problem. I want to know!

And after I have had my baby?

  • It is generally considered you are safe to travel with your baby after your six week postnatal visit.
  • ‘Breast is best!’ It is more convenient and there is less risk of infection if your baby is breast fed while traveling rather than bottle fed.
  • Put your baby on the breast/give bottle with take off and landing. This will help minimise pressure changes effecting your baby’s ears.
  • Arrange special seating on the plane with the baby basinet.
  • Think safely and cleanliness at the other end.
  • Check with your paediatrician re vaccinations for your baby as relevan.
  • Check with travel insurance re adequate cover.

See Vaccination for international travel  for Australian Government advise re vaccinations for international travel.

Posted by Dr Gary Sykes on -

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