PLANE TRUTHS

Moth­ers-to-be need to plan their air travel with some ex­tra care, ad­vises As­lan Shand

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Family Holidays -

Fly­ing while preg­nant: The sec­ond trimester is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the best time to travel; none­the­less, it is im­por­tant to check with your doc­tor that there are no med­i­cal rea­sons not to fly be­fore book­ing your tick­ets. If you have ex­pe­ri­enced high blood pres­sure or bleed­ing, or if you are prone to swelling, such as in your an­kles, your doc­tor may rec­om­mend you don’t fly.

Most air­lines will al­low preg­nant women to fly in­ter­na­tion­ally un­til 35 or 36 weeks (check with in­di­vid­ual air­lines) for a nor­mal, healthy preg­nancy and un­til 32 weeks for a mul­ti­ple preg­nancy (twins or triplets). Car­ry­ing a med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate if you are more than 24 weeks preg­nant is rec­om­mended. Check in early, as you can re­quest a bulk­head seat, which may have more leg room, de­pend­ing on the air­line, or ask for an aisle seat so that it is eas­ier to get in and out.

Vac­ci­na­tions: Nor­mally, ty­phoid and hep­ati­tis A and B vac­ci­na­tions are rec­om­mended for Asia and Africa. How­ever, ty­phoid vac­ci­na­tion is not rec­om­mended for preg­nant women. Hep­ati­tis A and B shots can be given; there is no ev­i­dence of fe­tal dam­age, though there is lim­ited re­search on the fe­tal ef­fects of th­ese vac­ci­na­tions.

Trav­el­ling to ar­eas where there is a risk of con­tract­ing malaria is not rec­om­mended while preg­nant.

In Aus­tralia, ty­phoid and hep­ati­tis A vac­ci­na­tions aren’t ad­vised for chil­dren un­der six. The rec­om­men­da­tion for chil­dren is that they are up-to-date with their im­mu­ni­sa­tions.

Al­ways check with your doc­tor as to which vac­ci­na­tions are re­quired as they will vary de­pend­ing on your sit­u­a­tion and itin­er­ary.

Avoid­ing hep­ati­tis A and ty­phoid: Brush your teeth with, and drink, only bot­tled wa­ter. Check that ice for your drinks is made from dis­tilled wa­ter or don’t have it. Don’t eat raw veg­eta­bles, salad and fruit. Thick-skinned fruits such as mandarins, which you peel your­self, or ba­nanas are fine. Al­ways wash your hands with soap or an­tibac­te­rial hand wash be­fore eat­ing.

(Con­sider car­ry­ing a purse-sized bot­tle of an­tibac­te­rial gel; Purell hand sani­tiser, for ex­am­ple, air-dries in sec­onds, has a fresh aloe vera fra­grance and is avail­able from most chemists in a 60ml travel pack.)

Deep vein throm­bo­sis: Preg­nancy can in­crease the risk of de­vel­op­ing blood clots, which can cause deep vein throm­bo­sis. It’s highly rec­om­mended to wear thigh-high flight socks or tight stock­ings to aid blood cir­cu­la­tion and re­duce the chance of DVT. Flight socks can be pur­chased at most chemists.

While in flight do the rec­om­mended ex­er­cises de­scribed in the in-flight mag­a­zine; also walk around the plane reg­u­larly when the seat­belt signs are off.

Travel in­sur­ance: Most travel in­sur­ance cov­ers women up un­til 26 weeks of preg­nancy, though this ex­cludes child­birth or the health of a new­born child. You can still buy stan­dard travel in­sur­ance af­ter this point but it doesn’t cover any­thing re­lated to the preg­nancy.

Travel in­sur­ance that cov­ers you and the preg­nancy af­ter 26 weeks is avail­able from some in­sur­ers. It is as­sessed on a case-by­case ba­sis and ex­cludes cover for the birth of a baby. Stu­dent Travel Aus­tralia pro­vides cover, ex­clud­ing the birth, through QBE in­sur­ance; you will need to fill out a med­i­cal ap­praisal form to have your ap­pli­ca­tion as­sessed. www.sta­travel.com.au.

Il­lus­tra­tion: Tom Jel­lett

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