Things you should know when travelling pregnant
It’s one of the best excuses for a holiday to emerge in recent years. You had a ‘honeymoon’ when you got married, now enjoy a ‘babymoon’ – a relaxing, romantic break before the birth of a baby.
Babymoons have been enjoyed by celebrities such as Kate Hudson and Mariah Carey and now Australians are embracing them too.
They’re proving popular with young professionals who want some quality, relaxing time together before their baby arrives.
But babymoons aside, there are several ways to ensure you are taking all of the right precautions to have a safe and secure trip when travelling while pregnant.
Of course it’s always advised that you consult with your doctor or obtain medical advice before taking flight.
Benefits of travelling while pregnant
Scientists agree that a holiday can have huge benefits on your health and wellbeing, and can create a better bond between couples.
Being intimate with your husband or partner releases ‘happy hormones’ such as serotonin and oxytocin, which have a positive effect on your wellbeing, help prevent illness, and improve blood flow.
HBF travel insurance spokesperson, Adam Windley says it doesn’t have to be a tropical extravaganza, it’s just about spending quality time together.
“A babymoon means you’re investing in your relationship before you’re tested with the new-found delights of parenthood,” Windley says.
“It’s a getaway before screaming kids and changing nappies.”
At what stage in your pregnancy is it safe to fly?
Doctors generally advise that you shouldn’t fly until you’re past the 12-week mark.
Most insurers will insure pregnancy up to and including 24 weeks, as long as no complications exist and the conception was not medically assisted.
It essentially means you have a 12-week window when you are safe to fly.
“There are specialist insurers who will provide cover beyond your 24th week up to your 30th week for an additional fee, or who will provide cover for pregnancies resulting from IVF. However, these policies are still dependent on whether there are complications or not.
“Look carefully at the product disclosure statement (PDS) and give the insurance companies a call to discuss all your options if this is something you want to do,” Windley says.
There are a few pregnancy stories that grab media headlines every year, such as the story surrounding baby Piper, who was born prematurely to Sydney couple John Kan and Rachel Evans.
They were left with a staggering $1 million debt after their daughter arrived at 26 weeks in a Canadian hospital.
So if you are pregnant and looking to travel, be sure to take out travel insurance that covers your pregnancy while you are away should a complication arise.
Aspects of your pregnancy that might be excluded from travel insurance
The majority of insurers generally exclude pregnancy if you are travelling against a doctor’s advice or if complications exist with your pregnancy at the time you take out insurance or book the trip.
Multiple pregnancies (if you are expecting to deliver more than one baby) are also generally excluded as it is deemed to be higher risk, or if you become pregnant through IVF or similar.
Most insurers also specifically exclude pregnancy as a reason to cancel your trip. So if you book a seven-night babymoon trip to Bali and pay for your flights and hotel but then decide you don’t really want to go, you wouldn’t be able to claim on your travel insurance.
If you do have a normal pregnancy, however, and need to cancel due to pregnancy complications, then you may be covered (and any medical expenses you need during your trip may also be covered).
How far should you travel?
The decision of how far to venture from home is entirely up to you, but for peace of mind and comfort, the ideal flight journey should be short and sweet – ideally no more than five or six hours.
Windley says: “Doctors generally recommend that if you are travelling after 20 weeks, try to keep it somewhere closer to home where you want to give birth”.
“Also consider how long you want to spend on a plane cooped up in a tiny economy class seat unless you are fortunate enough to splash out on a business class seat.
“Being pregnant is usually not the most comfortable stage in a woman’s life, and being forced to sit still for hours on end doesn’t bode well for the rest of the holiday.”
There are some destinations that should be avoided when pregnant because of the risk of the Zika Virus, which is a mosquito borne infection that can cause severe birth defects. These include Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.
How can you make travelling more tolerable if you’re pregnant?
Watching the clouds go by from a window seat sounds appealing, but if you’re expecting a baby, an aisle seat is far better. It means you can get to the toilet easier.
At check-in, ask if there’s any chance of an upgrade or even a row of empty seats to make your flight more comfortable. Sometimes bulkhead seats offer more room.
Whilst in the air, pregnant travellers should drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Wear loose, plain clothing and slip on some compression socks, while they’re not particularly flattering, they’ll prevent swelling and leg cramps.
What to do when you need medical attention overseas
Your number one priority is to have your Australian medical notes with you everywhere you go, along with a contact number of your midwife in case of an emergency.
Pack medication that has been approved by your doctor to help with any nausea or discomfort and to avoid the risk of headaches, and antacids in case you get heart burn.
Always check where your local hospital is located once you arrive at your babymoon destination and work out a road route plan just in case it’s needed.
If a pregnancy is straightforward, flying shouldn’t be harmful to either the mother or baby, as long as you’re within the 12- to 24-week period.
This could be your last relaxing holiday before two becomes three, so make it a blissful babymoon before you enter the next stage of your life as a family.
This article is sponsored by HBF Travel Insurance. HBF Travel Insurance is issued by Insurance Australia Limited ABN 11 000 016 722 (IAL) trading as CGU Insurance.