Vacations and travel: which precautions for pregnant women?
During the pregnancy

Vacations and travel: which precautions for pregnant women?

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Country villa, beach hotel, mountain cottage… Are you planning a vacation and you are pregnant? Here are all our tips for a safe vacation and precautions for expectant mothers who want to have a perfect trip without risks.

Traveling during pregnancy is possible, but it is not without risk. According to two studies, “half of the pregnant women surveyed had traveled during pregnancy, especially between the fourth and fifth month, outside Europe and without insurance for the baby,” writes the Revue Médicale Suisse (Swiss Medical Journal). Pregnant women want to move around a lot, but they are more vulnerable, and the risks associated with pregnancy exist.

Can a pregnant woman travel?

Of course, but only if the pregnancy is not risky. But even in a normal pregnancy, a pregnant woman’s body is more vulnerable.

“Pregnancy brings with it many physiological changes that make it more vulnerable to fluid loss, hyperthermia, hypoglycemia, thromboembolic risks, infections, and digestive disorders,” states the Revue Médicale Suisse. To avoid the greatest risks and protect your baby’s health, many precautions should be taken.

Before choosing a destination, select a means of transportation and plan a comfortable trip for the mother-to-be. This means avoiding long trips by car or plane. In addition, some means of transportation should be preferred to others.

Why avoid cars during pregnancy?

The car can cause or increase the contractions because of the vibrations. If you have no choice but to drive, choose a safe and well-maintained road.

Stop frequently, at least every two hours. This is essential for your blood circulation: inactivity leads to phlebitis, but also to urinary infections.

If you are in a hurry, a long car journey is not ideal. Take advantage of each stop to empty your bladder.

Here are some tips for a safe and comfortable trip:

  • Recline your seat to relax your stomach (if you’re not driving!);
  • Make sure you have the belt under your stomach and across your chest;
  • Wear support stockings on long trips to improve blood circulation;
  • Remember to take anti-nausea and anti-vomiting medication with you, if you need it.

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Can I travel by plane if I am pregnant?

Yes, you can. However, check the airline’s rules in advance: each airline has its own specific rules for boarding pregnant women.

You will need a medical certificate from your doctor stating your gestational age so that you will not be over 36 weeks on your return flight. Some airlines do not allow boarding after the seventh month of pregnancy.

Here are some precautions you should take to ensure a safe and enjoyable flight:

  • Get up and walk frequently;
  • Choose an aisle seat, not a window seat, so you can move around easily;
  • Drink water regularly to avoid dehydration and the risk of thromboembolic diseases;
  • Eat regularly;
  • Wear support stockings to prevent venous return and leg swelling;
  • Do not carry heavy luggage: ask others for help.

Can I travel by train if I am pregnant?

For medium-length trips (three to four hours), the train is still the best option to get to your vacation destination. There is (usually) less shaking than in a car, you can walk more easily and regularly than in a car or a plane, the toilets are more accessible, there is no belt that can bother your stomach… And you don’t need a medical certificate to board!

Note: Regardless of the transport you use, it is advisable to consult your family doctor, gynecologist or obstetrician before going on vacation.

Here are some precautions to take to ensure a pleasant and safe train ride:

  • Choose a seat in the middle of the car, as the vibrations are less intense than above the wheels;
  • Get up and walk around every hour: you have to do so;
  • Ask for help to carry your luggage: pregnant women should not carry heavy loads.

Pregnant women in the summer sun: precautions

It’s hot! You should take certain precautions:

  • Drink water, tea, infusions regularly… to hydrate, renew amniotic fluid, and, of course, prevent urinary infections. Including drinks and meals, you should drink about 2 liters a day;
  • As far as food is concerned, limit raw vegetables, which are not easily digestible. Wash or peel fruits and vegetables first, especially if you are not immune to toxoplasmosis.

Pregnant women in the sun

The sun can be dangerous for pregnant women, so :

  • Protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and a hat to avoid the mask of pregnancy, which is caused by high levels of progesterone in the body and is difficult to erase, especially on dark skin;
  • Do not expose yourself throughout the day and especially between 11 am and 4 pm. There is an increased risk of dehydration and heatstroke, which can lead to premature labor. In addition, the heat and pregnancy hormones promote dilation of blood vessels and swelling of the legs;
  • Walk in the water, as it has a massaging effect. Take cold showers if necessary and wear support stockings during the day.

Pregnant women at the beach

Going swimming?

  • Don’t keep your wet swimsuit on you. Moisture, heat, and friction promote vaginal and yeast infections;
  • To reduce the risk of bacterial infections, visit the pool when it is open in the morning, not in the afternoon;
  • As long as your cervix is not open, you can swim;
  • Do you like hills? Take walks that are flat, but not uphill. When you are pregnant, your blood volume is one-third greater, which means your heart has to work harder. That means you’ll run out of air more quickly.

When should you stop traveling during pregnancy?

The best time to travel is during the second trimester of pregnancy, which runs from week 16 to week 28 (assuming normal pregnancies in healthy women).

The risks associated with pregnancy vary depending on the stage of pregnancy but are greatest in the first and third trimesters. There are two unstable periods in pregnancy:

  • First trimester with increased risk of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy;
  • Third trimester, risk of preterm labor, hemorrhage, premature rupture of membranes, hypertension.

In addition, the risk of miscarriage is higher in the first trimester of pregnancy. If you travel by plane, remember that some airlines deny access to the plane to pregnant women from the seventh month of pregnancy.

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Where to go on vacation during pregnancy: ideas of places and destinations

Avoid especially areas where malaria is prevalent (sub-Saharan Africa, temperate or warm subtropical areas of Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East). We do not recommend travel to areas where the Zika virus is endemic: Asia, Africa, and, more recently, Central and South America. Many vaccines are banned for pregnant women, so don’t risk it.

If you still need to go, protect yourself from mosquitoes: wear clothing that covers your skin, sleep under a mosquito net, use repellent (up to three times a day)…

Finally, choose a destination where you can receive quality medical care. In case of emergency hospitalization, consider choosing a residence close to a maternity ward or hospital.

Then, it all depends on your preferences! If you are at sea, observe the precautions mentioned above. However, you should know that altitude and mountain air provide your body with a better supply of oxygen and can produce more hemoglobin. In these cases, you should wear support stockings to avoid the risk of developing varicose or spider veins.

Besides the documents (identity card, European health insurance card if you are in Europe, a medical certificate from your doctor, etc.), do not forget to take out health insurance when traveling abroad.

Malaria and pregnancy

Avoiding malaria areas specifically is important because Anopheles mosquitoes, the vector of malaria, bite pregnant women more often. The consequences of infection include miscarriage, premature delivery, and low birth weight in the newborn.

Pregnant woman’s vacation checklist

Here is a list of things to put in your purse, backpack, or wallet:

  • Your medications and prescriptions;
  • Your most important documents (medical certificate, insurance, identity card…);
  • Sun protection;
  • UV protective clothing (wide-brimmed hat, pants, light-colored long-sleeved shirt, etc.);
  • Sunglasses with a high protection factor;
  • Water: always carry water with you to drink regularly;
  • Thermal water spray to refresh and moisturize your skin;
  • Moisturizing cream and after-sun lotion;
  • Support stockings

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