During pregnancy women are more susceptible to infection, which is why travelling to areas in which malaria or yellow fever are prevalent is generally not recommended during pregnancy. Furthermore, during pregnancy the likelihood that you’ll need medical treatment is greater than it is if you are not pregnant. And given that the quality of medical facilities varies greatly between countries, you might also run the risk of not getting the best possible treatment when you are abroad.
Before booking your journey, you’d be wise to get information about the possible risks of travelling to your intended destination and the healthcare facilities that are available there. If you are well informed you can assess whether the importance of your journey outweighs the risks.
For optimum comfort and legroom, try to get an aisle seat. And to minimise the risk of thrombosis, walk around a little every 30 minutes or so. Drink plenty of water because the air in an aircraft is very dry. Most airlines won’t transport pregnant women after the 36th week because of the risk of the baby being born in the aircraft. Flying is not recommended until at least seven days after childbirth, among other things because of the increased risk of deep-vein thrombosis. Before booking your trip ask about the airline’s policy. If you are severely anaemic, or if you have suffered from thrombosis, discuss your travel plans with your midwife, family doctor or gynaecologist.
Infectious diseases and fever
During pregnancy, both you and your unborn child will be more vulnerable to infectious diseases. Every infection that’s accompanied by a high fever can induce labour. Not all antibiotics and medications can be used safely during pregnancy. Paracetamol is safe to use and is recommended in avoiding high fever. If you have a (high) fever do not hesitate to see a doctor.
Diarrhoea is very unpleasant and can lead to dehydration. You are also more susceptible to dehydration during pregnancy so take additional care to follow general recommendations on preventing diarrhoea and dehydration (see the General travellers leaflet and the one about diarrhoea). Above all, pregnancy complicates the treatment of prolonged or severe diarrhoea because many medicines cannot be used if you are pregnant. These include loperamide and some kinds of antibiotics.
Malaria and dengue
Malaria and dengue can be much more serious for pregnant women and malaria could even result in a miscarriage or premature birth. This is why travelling to a malaria area during pregnancy is not recommended. If, despite all this, you decide to travel to a malaria area, it is crucial that you take the recommended malaria tablets in the prescribed manner.
Pregnant women are sometimes apprehensive about the possible side effects of tablets and the potential risks to the unborn child. But bear in mind that malaria is a dangerous disease and that your travel advisor will recommend tablets that can, in your case, be safely used. However, anti-malaria treatments will never offer 100 per cent protection against malaria so always make sure you get adequate protection against mosquitoes. Use an impregnated mosquito net and mosquito ointment containing DEET on your exposed skin. If necessary, the use of DEET can be kept to a minimum by wearing as much protective clothing as possible and staying in a mosquito-free environment. Wash the ointment off as soon as you enter the mosquito-free environment. In the Malaria, Dengue and Japanese encephalitis leaflets you can read about additional measures you can take against mosquitoes.
If, during or after a stay in a malaria area, you develop fever or flu-like symptoms, you should get yourself tested for malaria as soon as possible. Malaria can quickly assume life-threatening forms, particularly in pregnant women.
To prevent dengue, it’s also very important to take daytime measures against mosquitoes in areas where dengue is prevalent. For more information about the measures you can take against mosquitoes refer to the Dengue leaflet.
Most vaccinations can be given safely during pregnancy. Here again, your travel advisor will take your condition into account while giving you personal advice.
Car accidents are commonplace. If you have an accident, you should consult a doctor afterwards, even if any injuries you might incur seem trivial, or if you don’t immediately notice any complaints. Also, avoid other potentially risky activities, such as water-skiing or scuba diving.
Pregnant women who stay at high altitudes (above 2,500 metres) are more likely to suffer from altitude sickness symptoms. However, medication against altitude sickness may not be used. This makes it particularly important that as a pregnant woman you should not ascend too quickly, and why you should take four to five days’ rest before you exert yourself. You should also avoid strenuous exercise.
Consult your travel advisor, doctor or pharmacist about which medication you can safely use when you are pregnant. During pregnancy some women have more trouble than others with vaginal infections and travelling to warm countries can increase the likelihood of these. Consult with your doctor about anti-fungal medication.
In the Netherlands, approximately 10 per cent of pregnancies end in a miscarriage. This can also happen if you are travelling or shortly after being vaccinated, without it having anything to do with your journey or the vaccination. Moreover, the quality of healthcare in other countries is not always as good as it is in the Netherlands. It’s therefore a good idea to take this into account when choosing your holiday destination, just in case you might need medical care during your stay abroad.
Refer also to: www.lcr.nl