Travelling when pregnant

Whether you’re doing short journeys in the car or getting on a plane for a holiday abroad, it’s important to take extra care of yourself when you’re pregnant. Making a few small changes and planning ahead will help to make sure you have a comfortable and safe journey.

Wherever you’re going, it’s a good idea to take your maternity notes with you in case you need medical help.

In the car

Wearing a car seatbelt
Make sure the straps of your seat belt don’t go over your bump NHS Health Scotland

It’s fine to drive or be a passenger in a car while you’re pregnant.

It’s important to wear a seat belt as you normally would. Make sure the straps don’t go over your bump by:

  • placing the lap strap across your hips so it fits comfortably under your bump
  • placing the diagonal strap between your breasts and around your bump

Take regular breaks when driving and make sure you bring some water and snacks with you for the journey.

Going on holiday or abroad

If you’re planning a holiday, seek health advice as early as possible.

You should give some thought to where you want to go as:

  • the things you may normally love, like hot sunny weather, may not be a great idea if you’re uncomfortable or finding it hard to sleep
  • you shouldn’t travel to areas where there's malaria or the Zika virus if you can avoid it

You should also consider the quality of medical care in the country you plan to visit.

Fitfortravel has more advice for pregnant travellers

Staying safe on holiday

Activities like walking and swimming are fine while you’re pregnant, but it’s not a good idea to do any activity where you might fall.

Take care to avoid coming into contact with water or food that could cause tummy upsets. Some medicines for treating diarrhoea may not be suitable in pregnancy.

Talk to your midwife if you have questions.

Travel vaccinations

You’ll need vaccinations before you travel to certain countries.

There are some vaccinations you shouldn’t have when you’re pregnant, especially in the first 3 months, so always check before you book anything.

Find out which travel vaccinations you might need

Travel insurance

Before you travel, you’ll need special travel insurance that:

  • covers any medical costs
  • allows you to cancel for any problems with your pregnancy

If you don’t tell your insurer you’re pregnant before you travel, your insurance may not be valid.

If you’re travelling in Europe, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may allow you to use the health services in these countries.

Apply for a European Health Insurance Card

Flying while pregnant

Air travel is generally safe if you’re having an uncomplicated pregnancy.

If you have any pregnancy complications, check with your midwife or GP that there’s no medical reason to stop you flying, such as high blood pressure or a risk of deep vein thrombosis.

Most airlines won’t let you fly if you’re within about a month of your due date. Some will need a letter from your GP or midwife saying you’re fit to fly when you’re 7 months pregnant. Check with the airline before you book.

Having a comfortable flight

When travelling by plane:

  • drink plenty of water as you’re much more likely to get dehydration while flying.
  • take healthy snacks with you so you can follow your own eating plan
  • take whatever makes you more comfortable, such as an extra pillow or warm socks

Be aware it may take you a bit longer than before to recover from jet lag.

Deep vein thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a deep vein in your leg, calf or pelvis.

You're more likely to get DVT if:

  • you sit for long periods of time
  • do very little activity

If you’re travelling on a long-distance flight or sitting for 4 hours or more, take extra care and follow your midwife or doctor’s advice.

More about deep vein thrombosis