Can a pregnant woman travel?
If your pregnancy is progressing normally and you are not at risk of developing complications or giving birth prematurely, you can travel safely without worries. Obviously, it’s important to consult your physician or a health care professional before you leave to discuss all the details of your trip so you can assess whether what you are planning is safe and so you can receive recommendations based on your chosen destination.
Important! When you choose a trip, don’t forget to read the travel health insurance policy to know what coverage you are getting. Most policies don’t cover problems related to pregnancy or the fees required for hospitalization of premature babies.
Taking the plane
Flying is safe for a pregnant woman who has no medical or obstetric complications up to 36 weeks of pregnancy. The important thing is to make sure you are comfortable during the flight. Wear comfortable clothes and keep your seat belt under your belly. As pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to blood clots because of poor blood circulation, make sure you get up frequently and make small movements with your legs at a regular interval as well as staying well hydrated during the flight.
Airlines travel policies for pregnant women
Air Canada: A pregnant woman who presents no complications can travel up to her 36th week of pregnancy on all Air Canada and Jazz flights.
West Jet: A pregnant woman over 36 weeks must have a medical certificate from their doctor to travel.
Air Transat: No restrictions up to 35 weeks. Between 36 and 38 weeks, you need to have a medical certificate issued by your doctor at least 24 hours prior to departure. From 38 weeks, pregnant women are no longer allowed on flights.
Porter: Pregnant women between 36 to 38 weeks must obtain a medical certificate 24 hours prior to departure. From 38 weeks, pregnant women are no longer allowed on flights.
Sunwing: Pregnant women may travel until their 36th week of pregnancy.
Traveling by car
If you plan to go on an adventure on the road rather than by air, you can ensure your comfort by following the same recommendations given for air travel: install your seat belt comfortably under your belly, stay well hydrated and make regular stops to stretch your legs and promote good circulation.
If you are prone to motion sickness, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if you could use medicine to help you relieve the nausea and vomiting.
Travel precautions for pregnant women
Even if women can travel safely during pregnancy, there are still some basic rules to follow that can influence your choice of destination, and some precautions to take during your stay to ensure the odds are in your favor:
- Vaccines: During pregnancy, it’s advisable to avoid live vaccines (such as measles, mumps or rubella), but it is safe to receive inactive vaccines (like hepatitis B). Learn about the required vaccines in the destination of your choice and discuss the risks with your doctor to make an informed decision.
- Malaria: Malaria is contracted following an infection caused by the bite of mosquitoes. As Malaria can cause significant damage to the mother and foetus, pregnant women should avoid destinations where Malaria can be contracted.
- Altitude: It is not recommended for pregnant women to travel at high altitude (above 12 000 feet). Scuba diving should also be avoided.
- Food and water: As food borne illnesses can be dangerous for the fetus, it is important to take special precautions to avoid contamination: drink purified water and pasteurized dairy products, avoid meat that is raw or undercooked.
- Insect and animals: For optimum protection, avoid contact with animals during your trip, especially dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds and bats. Protect yourself against mosquito bites that can also lead to an infection.
- Your general condition: It’s important to see a doctor if you experience symptoms that indicate a problem with your pregnancy like bleeding, abdominal pain, losing your water or preeclamptic symptoms.
Travel checklist for the pregnant woman
- Medicare card
- All health insurance and travel documents
- Documents related to your pregnancy
- Contact numbers in case of an emergency
- Medicine for diarrhea
- Prenatal vitamins and supplements
- Insect repellent
Sources: Public Health Agency of Canada – Statement on the pregnant traveler, Government of Canada – Traveling pregnant.