Travelling While Pregnant

by Dr Rosalie Sant, Obs & Gyne Consultant

What if you have just found out that you are pregnant?

First of all, congratulations!!!  You have just entered a beautiful and exciting phase in your life. It is however unfortunately inadvisable to travel in the first trimester of pregnancy (you should have tried to time it better, sorry Smile).

There are various reasons for this and some of the more important ones are listed below.  As expected, although there is no evidence of a direct causative link, the risk of miscarriage at that stage in early pregnancy is quite high – not pleasant at the best of times but up in the air or in a foreign country it will most certainly be worse. 

Also, during the flight, you are exposing yourself to atmospheric cosmic radiation at a time when cell division and differentiation is going on at a phenomenal rate. This is a result of simply being higher up in the atmosphere. It is thought that a trans-Atlantic flight will expose you to as much radiation as a chest X-Ray, and none of us will go for an X-Ray during pregnancy will we? After organogenesis has taken place, i.e. after the 1st trimester has passed, then travelling may be safer so hold on if possible.

In addition, if you absolutely need to travel in early pregnancy, you should have an ultrasound that confirms that your pregnancy is in the uterus and not in the tube – an ectopic pregnancy – before you travel as this can lead to life-threatening internal haemorrhage and is quite scary if diagnosed late,  i.e. after 6 – 7 weeks.


What if you have known you are pregnant for a while?

Well I hope you are enjoying the company!  Travelling after the first trimester should be safe as long as you do not have a medical condition or a low lying placenta. In these cases you should get the go ahead from your doctor.

The risks are of blood clotting and thrombosis and excessive uterine contractions that may, in theory, lead to preterm delivery. So, be organized and do not arrive to the airport hassled. Use the easiest means of transportation around the airport. On the plane move your feet constantly so that you keep your circulation going. Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothes. Do not fall asleep in an awkward position – even if your very unruly 2 yr old has finally fallen asleep on you!! Make sure blood can flow freely from your limbs to your body.

And last but not least DRINK A LOT OF WATER!! That way you will need to get up and go to the bathroom on a regular basis – and that is a sure way of moving your feet.Also it will help relax your uterus and prevent contractions so you are hitting 2 birds with one stone-- Great eh? Just remember to do it!! And don’t worry about being thought of as a nuisance constantly requesting more water, it’s allowed Smile!!!

Have fun and enjoy a good break before the action starts!