NAUSEA in the cabin, dodging malaria hot-spots and skipping flights over four hours – experts have revealed what pregnant women REALLY need to know before jetting off on their summer holidays.
It’s thought more than 10 million Brits will be taking advantage of the school vacation to enjoy their annual break abroad.
But experts says there’s still much confusion when it comes to the dos and don’ts of flying when it comes to pregnancy.
Dr Clare Tower, consultant obstetrician with leading UK fertility clinic Reproductive Health Group, wants to help those expecting a child to make the right choices.
And she says: “It’s one of the most common questions we get asked in the clinic – ‘If I’m pregnant, am I safe to fly?’
“The thought of having to get on a plane while carrying a child can be a daunting one, particularly if you’ve had a bumpy journey to get to this point.
“But I want to reassure families that it can be perfectly safe to fly while pregnant, providing you follow all the relevant advice.
“And considering a good dose of sunshine can really improve health and wellbeing, it should be actively encouraged, rather than something to be feared.”
Here Dr Tower reveals what you need to know:
Count the weeks:
“If a pregnancy is straightforward, flying should not be harmful to either the woman or her baby. And in 2015 the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists actually issued new guidance to try and reassure those worried. The College now say that it’s safe to fly up to 37 weeks (three weeks before your due date), providing you’ve had no complications, are fit and well and only carrying one baby. If you’re carrying more than one baby, the safest time to fly is before 32 weeks.
And while everyone who flies is exposed to a slight increase in radiation, there is no evidence to suggest it causes miscarriage, early labour or a woman’s waters to break. They’re all just common myths that need busting.”
Check your paperwork:
“An airline, quite rightly, will not want you going into labour during its flight. And so many of them ask that if you’re more than 28 weeks pregnant you need to supply medical notes and a GP’s letter confirming your due date, and that you’re in good health and enjoying a normal pregnancy. Make sure you check with your airline. Make sure that your insurance policy covers you for flying while pregnant – check that small print carefully. And pregnant women should also ensure that their insurance covers health related pregnancy issues whilst abroad, as well as for just the flight.”
Choose your destination wisely:
“Are you confident that the place you’re travelling to has a good healthcare infrastructure, should you encounter any problems while abroad? Do you trust that you’ll be properly looked after if hospitalised? If you’re not certain, think again.
You also need to assess the malaria risk. Exotic destinations like Dominican Republic, Mexico, Cape Verde and South Africa are becoming more and more popular with British travellers. But they carry a malarial threat, which can be extremely harmful for both the mother and baby. Meanwhile certain anti-malaria drugs, such as doxycycline, cannot be taken by pregnant women. Always discuss these things with your doctor or midwife.”
Deep Vein Thrombosis:
“When you’re pregnant, changes in hormone levels can affect blood composition and influence clotting. Meanwhile you might also experience reduced blood flow to the legs due to the weight of your baby pressing on veins. And all of this means that pregnant women are more susceptible to DVT. If your flight is longer than four hours, the risk of DVT increases. That’s worth bearing in mind, particularly as most flights from England to Tenerife are more than four hours – a destination not often considered ‘long haul’. Thankfully you can take steps to reduce the risk, such as staying hydrated, making sure you move around frequently and by wearing special flight socks. Some women have additional risks – for example if you are very overweight – and may need to be prescribed a blood thinning injection.”
“There’s no medical reason why you shouldn’t fly in the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. But there’s a reason why a lot of women choose to avoid it, and that’s to help with the nausea and tiredness that comes with that initial period. If you experience motion sickness, make sure you’ve got natural, energy-giving snacks such as fruit, nuts and crackers, to keep you going.”
“You don’t have to book business class to get extra leg room – by reserving your seat number in advance you should be able to request an aisle seat. And most airlines will allow pregnant women to sit in the emergency exit rows, which automatically come with more space, even though you must be able to perform certain duties in case of an emergency.”
“If you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t be sitting still on your flight. Get up as often as you can and make sure you perform calf exercises both in and out of your seat to ward off DVT.”
Private Maternity Care:
Did you know that at Reproductive Health Group we offer a comprehensive private maternity and obstetrics service, designed to help you have a healthy baby and a stress free pregnancy?
We not only offer help, support, scanning and all of the necessary tests, we also provide a unique, community based Midwifery package, designed to ensure you and your family have all the support you need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Learn more about our private maternity care.