Going abroad when pregnant – what you need to know

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Thinking of going abroad when you’re pregnant? This is what you need to know.

pregnant-woman-on-a-plane

As long as your pregnancy is considered a low risk, you should be able to travel abroad up until a certain stage of your pregnancy. But before you travel, there are a few matters to check to help your trip run smoothly. 

Can pregnant women fly?

Yes, most of pregnant women are able to fly because it isn’t harmful to the baby.

According to the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the safest time for pregnant women to fly is before 37 weeks when they are carrying one baby or 32 weeks if they are carrying twins.

After this stage, there is a possibility that you could go into labour, which is why it is best to avoid going too far away from home. If you are still hoping to travel, it's important to speak to your doctor or midwife and check that it is safe. They may advise against it if you have had any complications with your pregnancy.

If you are over 28 weeks pregnant, your airline may ask to see a letter from your midwife or doctor. Some airlines have their own restrictions in place, however, so it is best to check first to avoid getting turned away at the airport. 

What happens if I go into labour abroad?

At the early signs of labour, you should try to stay calm and go to the nearest hospital as soon as possible. You may also need to let your insurance provider know that you have gone into labour, but this should be outlined on your policy documents. 

Be aware that lots of airlines won’t let you take your newborn baby on a flight until it is two weeks old, or even longer for premature babies, so it is best to make sure you have a plan in place should you need to stay away a bit longer than expected. You can ask your airline when you’ll be able to fly home.

If you are planning to have your baby abroad, you’ll need to speak to your doctor in the UK first. You will also need to apply for a Maternity S2 to cover the costs of your care because most travel insurances don’t cover planned overseas births.

Things to check before travelling while pregnant

The most important question to ask before going abroad is whether it’s safe for you to travel, and the best person to speak to is your doctor. Ideally, you should check before you book and then as close to the day you’re travelling as possible. 

When you speak to your doctor, you also should find out if you need any vaccinations for where you’re travelling to. Anti-malarial tablets and some vaccinations that use live bacteria can be harmful to you and your baby, so if you would need these, you might prefer to postpone your trip. 

You might like to investigate what the healthcare facilities are like in the region you’re travelling to because this could sway your decision. 
If you’re worried about getting ill while you’re on holiday, speak to your doctor about the medicines you can take while you’re pregnant so it is easier to find treatments should you need them. 

On a more practical note, if you booked your trip through an agency or you’re going on an organised trip or cruise, check with the company that you are able to travel while pregnant. They typically have tighter restrictions in place than airlines. If you have booked a trip and later find you are pregnant, the company may reimburse you if it won’t let you travel.

Will my travel insurance cover me when I’m pregnant?

Depending on the insurance policy and level of cover you choose, the costs of the medical care you need may be covered well into the late stages of your pregnancy. Often policies won’t cover you after a certain stage when it is more likely that you could have a normal birth, which isn’t considered a medical emergency. What stage this is and the medical care that’s covered varies from policy to policy, so do check this thoroughly before taking out your insurance.  

Whether you have to declare your pregnancy also depends on your insurer’s guidelines, but you should always let them know if you have any medical conditions associated with your pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and a number of others.

Things to consider when travelling while pregnant

First and foremost, always keep medical emergency contact details for the place you’re travelling to handy should you go into labour or need urgent care. You should also take your maternity medical records with you, should the doctors need to know anything about you and your pregnancy. 

Try to get up and move around at least once every half hour when you're in the air. This will reduce your chances of developing a blood clot. Always drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially when you’re travelling somewhere hot, because your kidneys have to work exceptionally hard when you’re pregnant. In general, it’s best to stick to bottled water to avoid getting ill. 

If you’re in the early stages of pregnancy, you might feel quite unwell, so bear this in mind before you book a trip to avoid feeling too uncomfortable. 

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