Travel during pregnancy
With the end of the Victorian era we saw movement away from the attitude of pregnancy being a time of confinement, a view of fragility and anticipation of unexpected outcomes around ever corner. While there remain some precautions during pregnancy, we now know that it is mostly very safe for a woman to carry on activities she would undertake outside of pregnancy without risk to her or her baby. While we’ve come a long way in recognising that is it ‘safe’ to be pregnant, there still remains some myths out there about what you can and can’t do.
One of these remaining myths is travelling. Much like Queen Victoria and Lady Charlotte shocked the post Georgian folk by attending the same royal ball while pregnant, many people appear astounded that a pregnant lady would continue to travel, whether it be for work or for a last attempt at one remaining chance for a quiet holiday.
Unless you have complications during your pregnancy, it is safe to travel by any mode of transport up to, and in some circumstances beyond, 36 weeks. The main concern with air travel other than short flights is risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and concerns with long exposure to low air pressure inside the cabin of the aircraft. In general you are more at risk of developing a DVT in pregnancy due to the physiological changes of pregnancy. However , without specific concerns for excessive risk of these things in your pregnancy, flying is a perfectly safe thing to do. It is best if you are planning flying, particularly a flight over 2 hours in length, that you discuss your plans with your Kindred midwife or obstetrician to ensure there aren’t any specific instructions they would recommended for you such as compression stockings or specific medication or vaccinations for the country in which you are travelling. Some airlines require a clearance letter for women over 32 weeks, so ensure you check when booking.
With new advances in security screening technology, concerns may be raised about scanning devices at major airports, however the Radiation Protection Standard applicable to millimetre-wave body scanners sets a maximum permissible exposure level for members of the public, including children. This standard does not set a separate exposure limit for pregnant women and therefore it is safe for pregnant women to undergo a body scan. Millimetre-waves are reflected off the surface of the skin and do not penetrate the body. There is no evidence to suggest a body scan will be harmful to either the mother or the child
When on holidays, enjoy activities that are relevant to what your body is comfortable with at that time during pregnancy. Avoid things which may increase your likelihood of falling such as advanced hiking, horse riding or skiing. It is also advisable to avoid activities that alter the way your body breaks down oxygen such as diving or activities at high altitude. Otherwise check with the obstetrician or midwife if you’re not sure if something you might be doing would not be advised, but you should be able to enjoy travelling while pregnant, as there is little that is deemed to be completely unsuitable. So if it is something that interests you; have a chat to your doctor, book a trip, enjoy some mocktails by the beach and come back feeling refreshed before your baby arrives.