One of the most frequently asked questions we get from our obstetric patients is about travelling safely during pregnancy. Our experienced Midwife Rebecca Murphy, who works alongside Sydney Obstetrician Dr Sean Burnet, shares her insights below:
Buses and Trains
It can be crazy tackling the foot traffic in Town Hall Station during rush hour, but this and many other forms of travel are a reality in our busy modern lives.
When you’re pregnant, it’s important to remember, first and foremost, to listen to your body. As we approach the summer months, you may not tolerate the heat and humidity as well, so be sure to dink plenty of water. Eating small amounts of food more often can prevent your blood sugars from fluctuating too much and help your body regulate its temperature.
If you feel unwell on a bus or train, do not be afraid to alert someone. You may be more prone to dizzy spells or fainting while you’re pregnant, so it’s important to sit down. If you’re very unwell, transport staff can arrange medical assistance for you.
Eating breakfast will decrease your chances of feeling unwell on your morning commute, and it’s a good idea to avoid standing for long periods. Some women have taken to wearing “Baby in Belly” badges on public transport so that other passengers are more likely to offer a seat. They may seem cringe-worthy, but they help! If no one offers, it’s ok to ask. The seats at the front of the bus and closest to the train doors are reserved for people who need them, and that includes pregnant women!
We don’t advise very long and tiring car journeys when you’re pregnant as sitting for too long can be uncomfortable, and it could increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis, which is also known as blood clots in your legs.
If you do have to take a very long car journey, stop frequently to stretch your legs and walk around. Drink plenty of water and consider wearing compression stockings.
If it’s an exceptionally long journey, you may want to consider taking a flight instead.
There is a lot of confusion about flying while pregnant, and each airline has its own policy. You can contact the airline before booking to check what their policy is. Most airlines do not permit women to fly internationally after 32 weeks gestation, and many airlines restrict the length of domestic flights for women past 32 weeks gestation. Some airlines will also require a note from a doctor or Midwife confirming the due date and whether there are any potential complications.
Generally speaking, the safest time to fly is during the second trimester. Again, you should drink plenty of water, wear compression stockings and be sure to walk around the cabin frequently to reduce your risk of deep vein thrombosis. If you feel unwell or short of breathe, ask for assistance.
Here are a few other things to consider before booking a trip;
- Is the area safe to travel? Could there be health concerns such as malaria or the zika virus?
- Do I have adequate health insurance for travelling while pregnant and any associated possibilities?
- Will there be easy access to healthcare in the location I’m visiting?
- Am I fit to travel? Do I really need to go?
If you do decide to go overseas, avoid raw or undercooked foods, drink bottled water, wash all fruits and vegetables (or eat well-cooked fruits and vegetables), consult a doctor before going, and take your antenatal card with you.
It’s a lot to consider, so don’t forget to have fun – and if you have any more questions, let us know in the comments below!