A pregnant woman's guide to travelling

Everything you need to know before you depart for that much anticipated babymoon with your beloved.

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You and your hubby are ecstatic to receive thrilling news that you’re expecting! If you’ve always loved travelling, you might want to plan a babymoon.

Indeed, it’ll be the last holiday you’ll enjoy together as a couple before baby makes three.

But before you rush off to pack your bags, you might want to take note of a few things you’ll need to take note of and plan ahead for. Here’s our comprehensive guide.

Fit to travel

First up, get your gynaecologist’s blessing to ensure that you are medically fit to travel. The best time for your getaway is in the second trimester when morning sickness symptoms would have subsided, the pregnancy’s become more stable and your energy levels are higher. It is important to let your doctor know your travel plans, so that you’ll get relevant medical guidance as well as that letter that verifies that you’re fit to travel.

Check the fine print

* By air
Most airlines have a list of requirements for expectant travellers. In the case of Singapore Airlines, if you are between 29 and 36 weeks gone in an uncomplicated single pregnancy, you only have to produce a medical certificate indicating your fitness to travel, how many weeks you are pregnant and estimated date of delivery.

Do note that the airline will not let you fly if you are more than 36 weeks pregnant. It is 32 weeks if you are carrying twins and more.

The best time for your getaway is in the second trimester when morning sickness symptoms would have subsided, the pregnancy’s become more stable and your energy levels are higher.

* By sea
If you are planning to book a cruise instead, be aware that most international cruise lines will not accept passengers who have entered their 24th week of pregnancy at any point during the trip. You must also produce a doctor’s letter declaring that you’re fit to travel and your expected due date. However, different cruise lines have their own policies, so do check these details carefully before you book.

Buy travel insurance

Travel insurance is a must-buy before you go on holiday, and pregnancy is no exception. But the level of cover you get and the small-print exclusions will vary from insurer to insurer, so do read through the terms and conditions before buying any travel insurance policy. Don’t worry ― pregnancy is not an illness, which means that being pregnant will not make it harder for you to get coverage, nor will you be charged extra.

Pick your destination

Now that you’ve gotten the hard facts out of the way, the fun begins. Decide where you would like to go and the type of holiday you want. If your previous trips were adrenaline pumping and strenuous, you might want to change gears now that you have a baby bump to take care of. If you still need to stay active. Go for gentle exercises such as walking, swimming and yoga.

It also makes sense to avoid regions that often get travel warnings or those that have been flagged as posing a high risk of illness and disease.

If you prefer not to be confined in an airplane seat for long hours, opt for destinations closer to home (flights less than six hours are good) and which have similar standards of medical care.

Another point worth considering: pregnant women tend to have higher body temperatures and if you perspire easily, you are likely to suffer even more now. So, plan your holiday venue carefully if you prefer to stay cool.

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All set to go

While it’s good to be on the safe side, don’t over-pack. To avoid heavy lifting, pick a suitcase with wheels for easy movement or carry two lighter suitcases rather than one very heavy one.

On the plane:
* Opt for comfortable shoes and loose-fitting clothes, if possible.
* Avoid sitting for too long. Move around as much as possible, at least 15 minutes every hour or wriggle your toes often when seated. You can also wear compression stockings to prevent blood clots and leg swelling.
* As humidity in the cabins is kept at only 8 per cent, drink plenty of water to hydrate yourself. Avoid caffeinated or fizzy drinks.
* If you are still suffering from morning sickness, have some dry biscuits and ginger candy in your carry-on bag to quell the nausea.
* Ideally, reserve an aisle seat for yourself. This way, you won't have to climb over others to get to the toilet. You can also try to sit near the front of the plane as the ride is usually smoother there.

Consider the risk versus reward benefits before heading somewhere which requires extensive vaccinations as certain vaccines may not be safe during pregnancy.

Take care of your health

* Vaccinations Before heading to a destination that requires extensive immunisations, think about the risks versus the reward benefits as certain vaccines may not be safe during pregnancy. If you really must, it’s important to discuss with your doctor which ones are suitable. Also note that you may need to get vaccinated four to six weeks prior to departure.

* Medication
On the trip, pack your prenatal vitamins and other medication your doctor prescribes, in case pharmacies at your destination do not stock them.

The two most common conditions travellers tend to face while on holiday are motion sickness and diarrhoea. Singapore’s National Healthcare Group says while there are some travel sickness medications deemed safe for pregnant women, most anti-diarrhoeal drugs are not recommended.

You can also refer to NHG’s list of travel medicines, but do note the checklist is not a substitute for medical advice, so check first what is suitable for your condition.

When on holiday, should you experience any of the following danger signs, NHG advises you to seek medical help immediately:

* Bleeding from the vagina.

* Severe abdominal pain, even without bleeding.

* Increasing bouts of vomiting.

* Fluid accumulating under the skin, typically visible at the ankles (swollen feet) and hands/fingers.

* Severe and persistent headaches (perhaps with disturbed vision and vomiting).

* Severe gastric infections with numerous bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea.

* Watery discharge or spotting.

* Loss of foetal movements over a noticeably long period.

NHG recommends that you carry enough of your regular prescription medicines in their original containers. In addition, bring along a health card with details such as the contact number of your family doctor, blood group, vaccination records and drug allergies, if any.

With all these plans in place, you’re all set to jet off or sail away... Bon voyage!

Photos: iStock

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