Many women decide to take a break when pregnant as a 'final holiday before the birth', especially during the second trimester when airlines still allow pregnant women to fly and it is unlikely that anything will happen during their time away.
Unless you have developed a pregnancy complication or have a history of later pregnancy problems, it is true that this is an ideal time to go away. However, if you are in any doubt about the safety of this, speak to your GP or midwife.
Whether you are travelling by plane, train or coach, sit in an aisle seat: it will be easier for you to to move around and to make frequent trips to the toilet! In addition, take plenty of water and snacks to avoid having to queue for them.
Women are sometimes worried that reduced cabin pressure and decreased humidity, particularly on long-haul flights, could damage their baby, cause their waters to break or make them go into labour prematurely. There is no scientific evidence that this is the case: the fetus receives all the oxygen and nutrients it needs from you, irrespective of whether the oxygen supply to you is a little less than normal, and occasional flights do not present a risk of increased exposure to radiation to you or your baby.
If you have had a previous first trimester miscarriage, however, you may think about postponing any foreign trips until you have reached the second trimester, simply to avoid the upset of a possible miscarriage either during the flight or
while you are abroad. Should you wish to fly after 28 weeks, although there is not any specific risk to pregnancy, many airlines require a letter from your GP confirming your due date and that yours is a low-risk pregnancy. Every airline also has a cut-off date after which it will not allow you to fly (based on your return date, not your outgoing one), so check with your particular carrier before booking, as each will differ. If you have had a previous premature delivery, think about flying earlier than the airline's final date. This is to avoid the possibility that you might go into premature labour on your journey, not because the flight might actually cause you to go into labour.
Long periods spent sitting down increase the risk of blood clots, including deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If you are flying medium- or long-haul (longer than four hours):
- Get up and move around the aircraft at least hourly
- Rotate, extend and flex your feet 10 times every hour
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine (stay hydrated by drinking water at regular intervals throughout the flight)
- Wear 'flight socks' (special compression stockings). You may want to discuss things with your GP before flying. If you are at particular risk of VTE or DVT (eg because you are overweight), you may also be advised to take a dose of aspirin. If you are at risk of giving birth prematurely, consider having a pre-flight cervical length scan.Travelling by car, train and coachOther methods of transport, such as train, car and coach are safe during pregnancy, although you must always wear a seatbelt (under and above your bump), however large your abdomen becomes. As your pregnancy advances, you will need to make increasingly frequent stops to stretch your legs and use the toilet, so factor this in when travelling by car, and if you are taking the train or coach, find a seat close to the toilet.This is an edited extract from One Born Every Minute: Expecting a Baby? by Dr Penelope Law (Quadrille, £25).Text © 2013 Dr Penelope Law