Pregnant Travellers

Advice and immunizations for travel when pregnant

Pregnant

Before You Travel When Pregnant

  • Pack comfortable, loose fitting clothes, including long sleeve shirts, pants, closed-toe walking shoes, sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, and insect repellent.
  • For areas with high risk of HIV infection or improper sterilization techniques, take a kit with sterile disposable syringes and needles. This kit must have a medical certificate signed by a doctor.
  • In case of an emergency, have an evacuation plan to a local medical facility with a safe blood supply.
  • If taking oral medication or insulin, pack enough supplies for the entire trip and keep them in your carry-on luggage. Carry all prescriptions with you.
  • Wear a medical alert bracelet if you have allergies, chronic disease, or other health concerns.
  • Talk to your doctor about taking antibiotics and anti-diarrhea medications with you.

Travel and Immunizations

If your immunization status is incomplete or unknown, be sure you have protection against Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, and Polio.

You may also need the following vaccines:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza
  • Rabies
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Meningococcal
  • Yellow Fever

Contact your doctor, travel clinic, or public health nurse for information on the risk of infection while travelling, versus the risk of immunization while being pregnant. It is best to postpone immunization until after the first three months of pregnancy.

You should not have the following vaccines during pregnancy: measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, oral typhoid, Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, or chickenpox vaccine.

Travel by Air

  • You will need a doctor’s written note and medical history in order to travel by air once you are 36 weeks pregnant.
  • Air travel is not recommended in the last month of pregnancy and for the first six days after delivery.
  • Drink lots of fluids on the airplane. Avoid salty foods and alcohol.
  • Try to get a seat next to the aisle and near the washroom.
  • Walk up and down the aisles to stretch and increase circulation.
  • Take frequent naps to prevent fatigue and jet lag.

Malaria Prevention

  • Malaria is a disease caused by mosquito bites and tiny parasites that get into the bloodstream.
  • The effects of malaria are more severe among pregnant women and developing babies, including a risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and death for a mother and infant. Pregnant women and infants should not take certain anti-malaria medications; therefore pregnant women and infants should avoid travel to areas where anti-malaria medications are required. If travel cannot be avoided, pregnant women and parents with infants should visit their doctor, or a travel clinic to find out if there is a safe medication. They should also be extra careful to avoid mosquito bites.
  • Mosquito bite precautions include, insect repellants and mosquito nets, covering all exposed skin, and limit outdoor activity from dusk to dawn.

Traveller’s Diarrhea

  • Pepto Bismol® should not be used to treat diarrhea in the last six weeks of pregnancy. Food and water precautions should be followed carefully. Sulpha drugs and Ciprofloxacin, which are used sometimes for traveller’s diarrhea, are not recommended for pregnant women.
  • Boil water. Do not use iodine drops to purify water. Exposure to iodine may cause goiter or enlarged thyroid gland in the baby.

Additional Information

  • Do wear a seat belt (shoulder or lap) when in a motor vehicle.
  • Do not scuba dive, water ski, or ride a motorcycle.
  • Swim only in the ocean or in chlorinated and clean swimming pools.
  • Avoid over-heating (hyperthermia) in hot climates. Do not use saunas or hot tubs.
  • Avoid low body temperature (hypothermia) in cold climates.
  • Avoid extreme physical activity at high altitudes.

    Additional Resources:

  • Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: Air Travel and Pregnancy