1 // Fly high
You can generally fly until you’re 36 weeks gone (32 if carrying twins) but check with your airline. You may also need a doctor’s note and your medical records beyond 28 weeks. Be prepared for morning sickness, tiredness and sinus problems to be aggravated by flying (especially in the first trimester). General advice applies when flying: wear flat shoes and loose clothing and try some light in-flight yoga. Upgrade or pre-book aisle or bulkhead seats for more space, or seats over the wings for a smoother journey.
2 // Pack with hacks
Use wheelable, light luggage, and pack a travel pillow or neck support, a refillable water bottle, heartburn tablets (as this can be made worse when cramped) and a bump band for back support.
3 // Take to rail, road or water
These options can be less arduous than flying but still mean sitting still for long periods, so stroll or take a break if possible, wear compression socks and do foot and leg exercises. Some ferry and cruise companies won’t carry heavily pregnant women (or even those beyond 32 weeks), so check before you book. If you’re taking a cruise, ask about medical facilities on board and at ports.
4 // Avoid no-go zones
Pregnant women should avoid travel to areas with a high risk of Zika, or have unprotected sex with someone who’s lived in or travelled to an area with the mosquito-borne virus, which can cause serious birth defects. For details of areas with a high risk, see cdc.gov.
5 // Be protected
Jabs are essential — the risk of catching an infectious disease far outweighs any potential risk from vaccination. Book in with your GP at least eight weeks before travel. Your doctor or nurse can let you know about any vaccines that aren’t recommended due to live bacteria. Ideally, avoid travelling to places with malaria while pregnant. If you do go, seek advice well before your departure date. Your GP can prescribe antimalarials that are safe to take during pregnancy.
6 // Get covered
Take your medical notes (or copies) wherever you travel. At the time of writing, it was unclear how Brexit will affect the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) giving health cover in the EU (see nhs.uk for updates). Nonetheless, it’s important to cover all bases with an additional private travel insurance policy. Check it covers you for pregnancy (including transport and hospitalisation) and also covers the baby if you give birth during your trip.
7 // Eat and drink wisely
With tiredness and dizziness common in pregnancy, especially early on, however you travel, go armed with healthy natural snacks such as fruit and nuts, and keep hydrated. At your destination, check if tap water is safe — if it isn’t, stick to bottled water. If you do get sick when you’re travelling, check any medicines you intend to consume are suitable during pregnancy. If you’re ill, even if you’re not hungry, keep hydrated and eat plainer food when your appetite returns.
And if the little one’s already here, check out our top tips for travelling with a baby.
Published in the November 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)