SafeMotherhood
safe motherhood

LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF

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COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES
ALCOHOL, SMOKING, CAFFEINE AND CANNABIS
MEDICINES/VACCINATIONS
EXERCISING SAFELY
EATING SAFELY
ESSENTIAL VITAMINS AND MINERALS
WHAT TO EAT IN PREGNANCY
Giving up smoking
Safe exercises
Chickenpox (varicella)
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Exotic holidays: things to consider

Most holiday and travel insurance packages specifically exclude pregnancy, and emergency maternal and neonatal care elsewhere may be prohibitively expensive.

Travel vaccinations such as hepatitis A are considered safe, but treatment to protect against malaria could be harmful, for example, we do not know how safe malaria prophylaxis is during pregnancy. An attack of malaria may cause late miscarriage or preterm labour.

'Traveller's diarrhoea' may be more common during pregnancy and not all the drugs normally used to treat this condition are considered safe in pregnancy. Worries about food safety and hygiene may also overshadow your holiday.

While the decision is yours, the NCT wants you to be aware of these risks.

Air travel

Most airlines have an upper limit beyond which they refuse to carry a pregnant woman - generally 34-36 weeks. Earlier in the pregnancy - maybe 28 weeks onwards - airlines may ask you to supply a doctor's letter. These conditions vary considerably, so please check with your travel agent or the airline. Once in the air, the biggest risk to the pregnant traveller is thrombosis - the formation of a blood clot in a leg vein. Thrombosis is a rare, but very serious complication of any pregnancy. The risk of thrombosis is increased by immobility and dehydration. In order to reduce the risk of thrombosis you should:

• try to book a bulkhead or aisle seat to give you some extra leg room;

• drink plenty of non-alcoholic fluids before and during the flight;

• get up and walk about for a few minutes every hour or so;

Some obstetricians recommend taking aspirin before very long flights to reduce the risk of clotting, but don't do this without discussing it first with your doctor.

Car safety

Seven pregnant women died between 1997 and 1999 in road traffic accidents, and pregnant women are not exempt from seatbelt legislation. Three point seat belts should be worn throughout pregnancy, with the lap strap placed as low as possible beneath your bump, lying across your thighs. The shoulder belt should go over the shoulder, collar bone and down across the chest - between the breasts. Once correctly positioned the seatbelt should be adjusted to fit as snugly as possible.