The harrowing ordeals of a US woman who gave birth to twins three months early while holidaying in Portugal and another who gave birth at only 23 weeks while on a cruise, has once again ignited debate about travelling while pregnant. Is it time to rethink the increasingly popular babymoon?
Kim Kirzow Spratt and her husband Fred Spratt decided one final hurrah was in order, ahead of the birth of their twins earlier this year. The New Jersey couple travelled to Lisbon for a babymoon, but Kim went into labour 13 weeks early. Baby Hayden weighed a tiny one pound and seven ounces, while Hudson weighed just a little more. Tragically, Hudson died two weeks later, as his sister Hayden desperately fought for her life.
According to PEOPLE, because baby Hayden’s fragile condition meant she couldn’t travel, the couple had to rent an apartment in Portugal, and spent weeks trying to get money from their insurance company.
They finally succeeded, and earlier this month, the family was able to fly home.
“This has been an unimaginable situation. It’s been the biggest test of our lives,” Kim tells PEOPLE.
The Spratts’ terrible ordeal came only a few months after an Australian couple endured their own babymoon nightmare in Bali, and just before Emily Morgan gave birth on a cruise ship, at just 23 weeks pregnant.
As Babyology reported earlier this week, Emily went into labour on their second day at sea, with the ship’s medical staff warning they weren’t equipped to deal with such a premature baby.
“I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t really comprehend how wrong. I didn’t think about what the possibilities were. All I knew was I was going to have a baby,” Emily recalls.
What the experts say
Babymoons are a booming business, with many couples opting to take time out ahead of the birth of their children. But experts warn there are several things to consider before jet-setting while expecting.
Associate Professor Steve Robson, vice-president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, tells Babyology that each pregnancy is different, as is each destination, so weigh up your risks.
“It depends on where the woman is planning to travel to, with whom she is planning to travel, and how the pregnancy is going. For women who have no particular complications and who are travelling to a developed country with good access to health services, then there are few problems,” he says.
“Women with pregnancy complications, or who are travelling to areas with limited medical support or with concerning health risks (for example, malaria), a very careful analysis should be done by the woman and her obstetrician or midwife.”
Flying, in particular carries its own concerns, “One of the potential risks is developing a thrombosis on a long-haul flight, and this can be dealt with be moving around a lot, drinking plenty of water, using compression stockings, and possibly taking low-dose aspirin”.
Women are also encouraged to thoroughly research their destination, both for potential health concerns and the level of care available.
Associate Professor Robson says, “I think this is a critical part of planning. Will I be placing myself at risk of problems – cholera, hepatitis A, malaria, violence, etc – if I travel somewhere, and what are the facilities like if I do have a complication?”
And here is Associate Professor Robson’s most critical advice for travelling mums-to-be:
“Make sure all of the above have been covered when planning a trip, have a comprehensive copy of all medical and pregnancy records, and have travel insurance appropriate for pregnancy. I can’t stress the importance of insurance enough.”
Airline rules for flying when pregnant
Each airline has different rules for flying during pregnancy, here’s what Australia’s most popular advise their customers.
- If you are more than 28 weeks pregnant, you must carry a letter from a registered medical practitioner or midwife that states your estimated due date, whether you’re pregnant with multiples and if your pregnancy is routine and without complications.
- If you do have pregnancy complications, you’ll need medical clearance.
- If the flight is four hours or more, and your pregnancy is routine, you can travel up to the end of your 36th week for single pregnancies, and the end of the 32nd week for multiples.
- If the flight is less than four hours, and your pregnancy is routine, you can travel up to the 40th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 36th week for multiples.
- Women who are pregnant must complete their journey by the end of their 34th week of pregnancy.
- If you are between 30 and 34 weeks pregnant, you must have a medical certificate from a doctor to confirm you are fit to travel. This must include your estimated due date, confirmation that there are no complications, a confirmation that you are fit to fly for the length of the flight booked, and must be dated no more than 14 days prior to travel, as long as the travel date doesn’t take you past 34 weeks.
- Tigerair does not allow pregnant women to fly from the beginning of the 35th week onwards.
- If you are 28 weeks pregnant or more, you need to carry a letter from a registered doctor or midwife, that carries a date no more than 10 days prior to departure stating your estimated due date, whether it’s a multiple pregnancy, and that there are no complications.
- If you have had complications or are pregnant with multiples, the airline recommends speaking to your doctor prior to book as you’ll need medical clearance to travel.
(Images courtesy Kim Kirzow Spratt)