Flying in pregnancy
Flying during pregnancy is generally safe for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies. However, there are some factors to consider:
- Timing: Most airlines will allow pregnant women to fly up until 36 weeks for domestic and 32 weeks for international travel. However, some airlines may have different policies, so checking before booking a flight is important.
- Length of flight: Longer flights (more than 4 hours) may increase the risk of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis or DVT) in the legs. Pregnant women should take frequent breaks to walk around, stretch, drink plenty of water, and do exercises to reduce the risk of DVT. Dr. Porter may suggest using compression stockings or even blood-thinning medications for some women.
- Seating: Consider choosing an aisle seat when flying. You are likely to need the bathroom more than usual, and you will find it easier to go for a walk.
- Medical conditions: Pregnant women with medical conditions like placenta previa or a history of premature labour may be advised not to fly or to limit air travel. Dr. Porter will assess your risk and give you an individualised plan in such cases.
- Radiation exposure: Flying exposes passengers to a small amount of radiation, but the risk to the foetus is considered very low.
- Fit-to-Fly certificate: Airlines usually require a note from your doctor if you are pregnant. If you are planning to fly, email Dr. Porter for a certificate.
Long drives in pregnancy
For car trips over 2 hours, it is recommended you stop and stretch your legs every 1-2 hours. This reduces the chance of developing blood clots in your legs/lungs. Always wear your seatbelt, and if you are involved in a collision, always seek medical advice.
Malaria is a life-threatening and serious disease, especially for pregnant women and their unborn child. An up-to-date analysis of the Malaria risk by geographical location can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/malaria/travelers/country_table/a.html
Below are some guidelines for preventing malaria in pregnancy:
- Prevention: The best way to prevent malaria during pregnancy is to avoid exposure to mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite. Pregnant women must use mosquito repellant, wear long–sleeved clothing, and sleep under mosquito nets when living or traveling to places where malaria is endemic. In some cases, it is recommended you take chemoprophylaxis (medications) to help prevent infection.
- Insect repellent: DEET is the recommended insect repellent in pregnancy. It is highly effective in preventing mosquito bites and is completely safe for unborn babies. In particular, DEET has not been shown to cause birth defects or impact your baby’s growth.
- Antimalarial medications: Pregnant women living in or traveling to areas with high malaria rates may be given preventive antimalarial medications (chemoprophylaxis) to reduce their risk of infection. The choice of medication and dosage depends on your individual health status and specific risk factors. Generally, Mefloquine is the drug of choice for pregnant women. Doxycycline and Primaquine are not recommended in pregnancy as they may harm the unborn baby.
Zika is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause serious complications during pregnancy, including microcephaly (a birth defect in which a baby’s head is smaller than expected) and other neurological abnormalities. It is generally advised to avoid traveling to regions with an active outbreak of the Zika Virus. Active outbreaks are updated on the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention website: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-information
Below is a list of suggestions to help reduce your likelihood of contracting Zika in your pregnancy:
- Prevention: The most effective way to prevent Zika virus infection during pregnancy is to avoid travel to areas with active Zika transmission. If travel is unavoidable, pregnant women should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites, such as wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, using insect repellent, and staying in air-conditioned or screened-in rooms.
- Breastfeeding: There is currently no evidence to suggest that the Zika virus is spread through breast milk, so women with Zika can continue breastfeeding their babies.