Travelling in Pregnancy

Travelling in pregnancy is common whether it is for work or pleasure. In general terms it is very safe to travel.

It is important to discuss with me when in your pregnancy you are planning to travel, and where the destination is. Obviously not leaving the trip until too late in the pregnancy, and avoiding remote areas is sensible. I am asked many questions about travel; here are some answers to the common ones.

Is it safe to fly in the first 3 months of pregnancy?

The answer is yes. There is no relationship between travel and miscarriage (a common myth). Travel by road, or air is allowed. If you have had bleeding in early pregnancy, and are planning a trip please discuss this with me.

So how late in the pregnancy may I fly?

The general rule is Interstate: up to 36 completed weeks. Overseas: most airline carriers permit travel until 34 completed weeks. It is unwise to travel later than this. Some airlines may request a letter from your doctor to confirm you are fit enough to travel, check with your airline before you go if you need this.

Will I need travel insurance for pregnancy?

Definitely. You must ensure you have a travel insurance policy for overseas travel that covers unexpected pregnancy-related complications, even if you are low risk. Remember medicare does not cover overseas travel, except in a small number of countries where there are reciprocal rights. A pregnancy-related complication overseas can leave you with a crippling financial cost if you are uninsured.

What about preventing DVT (deep vein thrombosis) in my pregnancy?

During your pregnancy you are at increased risk of DVT due to the normal hormonal changes in your body. Postnatally the risk is even higher for a month after your birth. To reduce your risk on long haul flights of four hours or more please observe the following:

1. Increase fluid intake

2. Avoid alcohol completely on the flight (it is dehydrating).

3. Stretch your legs and move around the cabin regularly.

4. Take 150mg of low dose aspirin (half a tablet daily is 150mg) starting two days prior to the planned flight and finishing once you arrive at your destination. Low dose aspirin will have a gentle blood thinning effect, reducing DVT risk.

How about food hygiene while I am travelling during my pregnancy?

Travelling overseas carries an inherent risk of food or waterborne gastrointestinal upset. This can be minimised by drinking bottled or filtered water, and eating mostly freshly cooked hot food. Eating cold foods, salads etc. may put you at great risk of food poisoning.

What about the risk of malaria or disease?

If like many Australians you are travelling to Asia for work or holidays during your pregnancy it is best to stick to coastal areas and major cities. Please avoid travel into remote rural locations due to the risk of malaria. Not all anti-malarials are safe in pregnancy, and malaria is a very serious illness that is best avoided.

Will I need a letter for the airline for me to fly during my pregnancy?

Yes. Australian airlines in particular and overseas ones as well now request pregnant women carry a certificate with their due date and stating they are fit to fly from their medical practitioner. This is for interstate flights also.