Travelling when pregnant
You should think carefully about travelling already when planning a pregnancy. For the most part, the same travel-related problems apply to pregnant women as to other people. However, an expectant mother’s underlying disease, which can become aggravated during a holiday, or a high-risk pregnancy (e.g. twins) increase the risks of travel.
If these conditions apply to you, you should discuss your travel plans with a physician. In addition, pregnant women should pay special attention to certain things when travelling abroad and should check the terms and conditions of their travel insurance policies.
You can enjoy a moderate amount of sun during pregnancy, but the use of sunscreen is recommended. Liver spots may appear on your skin during pregnancy, and sunlight can easily darken them. The recommendation is that pregnant women should select lotions intended for children, because they are likely to have been better tested and contain fewer chemicals.
Already when planning a trip, you should check which vaccinations you will need. Preferably, you should get these vaccinations before your pregnancy. If, however, this is no longer possible, you should get them well in advance before your trip. Vaccinations are always administered during pregnancy based on a risk analysis. Many vaccinations are safe and recommendable during pregnancy. Some do require special consideration, and the decision will always be made together with a healthcare professional. You should note that some of the vaccinations needed on your trip may not be given during pregnancy. For more information on vaccinations during pregnancy in Finnish, visit the website of the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
Read more: Naistalo (in Finnish)
Long flights are always associated with the risk of thrombosis. During pregnancy, the risk is higher. Therefore, you should avoid long flights, particularly during the last month of your pregnancy. The recommendation for pregnant passengers is to use compression stockings and get up from their seat for little walks as often as possible.
Some airlines require a medical certificate on how the pregnancy has progressed in order to allow the passenger on board. The rules regarding these certificates vary widely between companies, so check your airline’s policy well in advance. For example, Finnair requires a certificate from week 28 onwards, while SAS requires one from week 36 onwards. The maternity and child health clinic services do not include these certificates and you cannot book a doctor’s appointment to receive one. Instead, you must visit a private clinic.
Pregnant women should observe the same nutritional instructions abroad as they do in Finland. You should note, however, that even many of the harder cheese varieties produced abroad are not made from pasteurised milk and that ice cubes may not be made of completely clean or bottled water.
In addition, during pregnancy you should adhere to the general guidelines regarding food hygiene. Heated, fried or boiled dishes are safer than cold ones. Bottled water is the safest option of drinking water. Fruit and vegetables should be washed and peeled before eating.
Adequate hand hygiene is also an important part of safe eating. You should wash your hands before eating, if possible, and rub hand sanitiser on before every meal. You may want to take some hand sanitiser with you from home.
You can get a vaccination against hepatitis A, which is transmitted through food, and you should do this already before pregnancy, if possible, if you know you will be taking a trip during your pregnancy.
The infections spread by mosquitoes include the Zika virus, malaria, yellow fever and Japanese encephalitis. Travel to Zika-affected regions should be avoided. In order to avoid contracting diseases transmitted through insect bites, you should wear long sleeves, sleep under a mosquito net and refrain from visiting places particularly infested with mosquitoes. You should also note that getting pregnant immediately after having visited a Zika-affected region is not recommended. More details on this topic can be found at the website of European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and in Finnish at THL’s website.
To prevent diarrhoea, it is important to maintain good hand hygiene. Lactic acid bacteria can be used during pregnancy, and you can begin taking a probiotic containing them even before you leave for your trip. The main thing to remember when treating diarrhoea is to stay sufficiently hydrated. You should pack a diarrhoea drink with you, and you can check its suitability during pregnancy from HUS's Teratological information service. Self-treatment with over-the-counter medication from local pharmacies should be avoided. If you also get a high fever or the diarrhoea symptoms persist, contact a doctor.
If you plan to travel during pregnancy, you should take into account that changes in your pregnancy or well-being may occur during your trip. You can get treatment abroad during pregnancy, but you should note that different travel insurance policies cover different types of treatment. In addition, some insurance policies will cover the baby’s treatment and the mother’s and/or child’s transport back to their home country, whilst others will not. You should check these conditions, even during early pregnancy.
You should also check prior to your trip where the closest treatment facility or hospital for women who are pregnant or in labour is located and how to contact it.