Pregnant women can travel extensively without problems, but it is not advised during very early or advanced pregnancy, when the risks of miscarriage, premature labour and other complications are highest.
When not to travel
The second trimester of travel – between the fourth and sixth months – is the safest time for travel, says Professor Margaretha Isaäcson, a tropical disease expert from the University of the Witwatersrand, in her book 'Know your travel health risks'.
Airlines usually do not accept passengers from about the 32nd to 36th week of pregnancy onward, even for domestic flights of only an hour or two.
There are certain conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and anaemia that make flying during pregnancy an absolute no-no, says Professor Isaäcson. It is also safer to wait until after the child is born before travelling in the case of any complications during the pregnancy or previous pregnancies.
Where not to travel
Travelling to a country where the quality of health care and maternity services may not be as good could be dangerous for both the pregnant mother and baby.
Different countries may have different rules for blood transfusions, for instance, and monitoring of donated blood for diseases may not be up to scratch.
Know your blood type and those of any travelling companions, who may be a source of safe blood in an emergency, Isaäcson says.
Travel insurance to is necessary to any potential cover medical expenses or an emergency birth.
Travel in malaria areas
Travelling to a malaria area is not advised for pregnant women, as the disease can be fatal for mother and child.
If travel into a malaria area is unavoidable, Isaäcson advises that preventative measures and medication be used.
Making your trip more comfortable
When travelling on a plane, wearing a seatbelt is still necessary, but Isaäcson advises pregnant women to fasten the belt below, not across, the abdomen.
Asking for an aisle seat or one next to an emergency exit will provide more room to move and stretch the legs, which will prevent bloating or swollen legs.
Isaäcson also recommends taking frequent walks in the aisle and drinking plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to prevent the chance of a blood clot forming. – (Health24)