Useful information on travel in the first trimester of pregnancy including information on possible risks and precautions you should take, health insurance, medical care and vaccinations.
While many women prefer not to travel during the first trimester because of the characteristic exhaustion, fatigue and nausea associated with this stage of pregnancy. If you feel that you're up to it and have ok-ed it with your health care provider there is no reason why you can't indulge in, and enjoy, a little pre-baby travel at this time.
The first trimester is a very sensitive stage as there is a risk of early miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy. For this reason it is vital that you check the quality and availability of pregnancy related medical care at your destination in case you do require emergency attention. You should also find out whether donation blood is routinely checked for HIV and other diseases in the country to which you are travelling. Additionally, keeping a copy of your medical records to hand will ensure that should you need treatment, the doctors at your destination will have all your relevant obstetric information to hand.
Before you travel you should take a visit to your doctor or midwife. This will enable you to discuss the suitability of your travel plans for someone in early pregnancy and also undergo a medical check up so that any potential problems are identified and treated before you leave.
Exposure to many of the live vaccinations used to immunise against dangerous diseases is not generally recommended during pregnancy as there is a theoretical risk that the live bacteria or virus contained in the vaccine could cross the placenta and harm the baby. Therefore, if possible, you should avoid traveling in countries where there is a high risk of disease against which you would require immunisation.
If you do decide to travel to a country where vaccination is required you should discuss your options with your doctor. They will help you weigh up the risk of vaccination against the likely outcome should you contract the disease. Often in these circumstances the vaccination will be preferable as the risk of maternal transmission is only theoretical whereas the consequences of contracting the disease in question could be potentially fatal for mother and baby.
Travel by car
It is common to suffer from fatigue and dizziness during the first trimester and for this reason it is advisable to drive only short distances at a time and to share the driving with a companion where possible. If you do feel tired or dizzy you should stop and take a break wherever you are - keeping hydrated and snacking on natural energy boosting foods (such as fruit and nuts) will help.
Try to keep plenty of fresh air circulating around the car - this will help you to feel more awake and reduce nausea. Also, strong smelling air fresheners tend to make nausea worse especially if you are travelling for a long time - taking these out before starting your journey can be a good idea.
You should always wear your seat belt as this will protect you and your baby in the event of a crash. The most effective way to position it during pregnancy is with the diagonal strap positioned between your breasts and the lap strap positioned low across the pelvis rather than the stomach. If you are involved in an accident or collision, however minor, you should visit a doctor or hospital to check that everything is ok.
Food and drink
When travelling outside the UK you should check whether it is safe to drink tap water at your destination. This is important as the majority of medicines usually used to treat stomach upsets and travellers diarrhea are not suitable for consumption during pregnancy so you should be cautious.
Avoid drinks cooled with ice unless you can be sure that it has been made from purified water and stay away from prepared salads and unpeeled fruit and vegetables. You should be especially careful of undercooked fish and meat and unpasteurised dairy products.
If you are suffering badly with sickness and nausea you should make sure that you drink plenty of bottled water so as to avoid dehydration, especially if you are travelling in a hot climate. Even though you may not feel like eating it is important for the health of your baby that you keep up your calorie intake. Plainer foods such as potato, rice or noodle based dishes can be easier to stomach if you are feeling unwell.
Before you embark on your travels make sure that you are covered by a comprehensive health insurance policy. It is important to check that your policy provides sufficient cover for pregnancy related treatment in case you fall ill while you are away. If you are unsure of what is covered by your policy, you should contact your insurance provider to check the details and arrange for an upgrade if necessary.
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