April 6, 2017

Pregnant Fliers' Checklist


Tick off these boxes before taking your bump abroad Photo: AdobeStock

1. Get your doctor’s go-ahead
Start by having an ultrasound to confirm you’re having a normal (low-risk) pregnancy – if you haven’t done this already – and get your doctor’s go-ahead, advises Dr Peter Vincent, Medical Advisor to Netcare Travel Clinics.

Importantly, if you’re in the third trimester many airlines will require a doctor’s letter confirming you’re fit to fly, even if you’re having a normal pregnancy. Vincent recommends taking a doctor’s letter with you in the first and second trimester too, only as a precaution.

2. Check in with the airline
Ask your Sure Travel consultant about the various airlines’ policies for flying during pregnancy, as some have different cut-off dates for travel. As a general rule, though, in normal pregnancies there is usually no restriction on domestic or international air travel from 23 to 36 weeks.

After the 36 week cut-off date, air travel is discouraged – or even disallowed, depending on the airline,” says Vincent.

And that’s for one baby on board; if you’re carrying multiples, the cut-off is 32 weeks.

3. Calculate your travel dates
“An airline’s cut-off date for flying while pregnant generally includes the return date of travel,” notes a Sure Travel spokesperson. “So you need to calculate how many weeks pregnant you will be when you fly back and make sure you fall within the cut-off date.”

4. Check your travel insurance
Having a good travel insurance policy is essential, especially if you’re travelling out of South Africa.

A travel insurance policy will give you peace of mind should you go into early labour and need hospitalisation and/or repatriation, or experience any other unforeseen complication as a result of your pregnancy,” explains Simmy Micheli, sales and marketing manager for Travel Insurance Consultants.

Bear in mind that the standard, free travel insurance that comes with your credit card is often not sufficient to cover these costs outside of South African borders and you may need to buy a top-up policy or a separate policy altogether.

Here’s the most important thing you need to know: even if an airline allows you to fly up to 36 weeks into your pregnancy, travel insurers will only insure you for pregnancy-related medical claims up to 15 weeks before your due date.

“Most travel insurance products in South Africa will only cover any unforeseen complications of a normal pregnancy up to the end of your 25th week of pregnancy,” confirms Micheli.

She emphasises “normal” because if your pregnancy is high risk in any way, most travel insurers will not pay pregnancy-related claims.

“If your doctor says you should not be flying, don’t,” warns Micheli. “Insurers will not pay claims if you have travelled against medical advice.”

5. Prepare for the flight
Deep vein thrombosis is a risk when flying while pregnant. “It is said to be five to 10 times higher than in non-pregnant women,” confirms Vincent.

He recommends taking preventative measures such as frequent stretching, walking and leg exercises, as well as wearing graduated compression stockings: “Keep compression stockings on and keep leg exercises up for at least 48 hours after a flight longer than eight hours.”

Blood thinners to ward off thrombosis are not recommended, he adds, unless prescribed by your gynae/obstetrician.

Other tips for staying comfortable when flying with a baby bump include: wearing loose clothing and comfortable shoes; booking an aisle seat close to the toilets; not drinking fizzy drinks before or during the flight (the gas will expand in the pressurised cabin); and avoiding all drinks with caffeine (including teas, coffees and sodas).

*Article originally published in Sure Travel Journey


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