Having your baby on holiday – what you need to know

26 August 2010 10:20

Samantha and David Cameron are currently celebrating the birth of their daughter in Cornwall.  The baby, born three weeks early, was delivered by caesarean section at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, many miles from the intended birth place in London.

The unexpected arrival of Baby Cameron meant that Samantha was taken into an unfamiliar hospital at very short notice.  As the Cameron’s were holidaying in the UK there would have been very few concerns about the level of treatment at the hospital.  However, what happens if you are on holiday abroad and your baby is born early?

The travel industry puts many strict restrictions on travelling when pregnant, for example, most airlines state you are not permitted to fly after 36 weeks.  And even before that time, some airlines will request a ‘fit to fly’ letter from a midwife or Doctor.

Travelling by sea also has restrictions; Brittany Ferries will not allow women to travel after 32 weeks, and 28 weeks if they want to use the high-speed service.  And P&O will not allow women to take the Western Channel routes after 28 weeks, although  the  Short Sea (Dover-Calais) and Irish Sea crossings are more accessible, still being available for women up to 38 weeks.

In all cases of travelling when pregnant it is best to check with the transport provider as they can, and will refuse travel if they consider it not to be safe.

There are no restrictions when it comes to travel by road or rail, so it is possible that some women may find themselves in a similar situation to Samantha Cameron, having opted for a last minute ‘babymoon’ holiday before the birth, only to find that junior has other plans and wants to join in with the holiday by making an early arrival.

Travel Insurance Specialists, World First Travel Insurance is advising women to consider their travel plans carefully and make sure they have adequate travel insurance cover as well as making sure they have considered the implications of giving birth abroad.

Managing Partner of World First, Martin Rothwell said: “Any woman considering taking a holiday while pregnant should make sure she has a suitable travel insurance policy and should consider taking out a specialist policy; pregnancy travel insurance.  At World First we provide insurance to cover the entire term of pregnancy so women can still take holidays right up until their baby is born, providing their carrier permits them to travel.

“It’s important for women to make sure they take out insurance as well as having a European Health Insurance Card.  Some people have made the mistake in the past in thinking that the EHIC will cover all of their medical needs, this is not the case, one vital difference is that the EHIC won’t help you to get back home if you require treatment back in the UK.  The only way to have true peace of mind is to take out travel insurance.”

When it comes to the travel insurance policy, women are advised to read the small print carefully as not all travel insurance policies are the same, and many will find a get out clause if there is a problem during pregnancy.  Most travel insurance policies exclude any claim if travelling at more than 32 weeks pregnant, or 24 for multiple births from the date of delivery.  But it’s worth noting, that as long as the airline or shipping company says it’s okay to travel, and there have been no complications in this or in previous pregnancies, World First will provide full cover under the medical and emergency expenses for both mother and newborn child.

Martin added: “Along with the practical side of things, it’s important that people get an idea of the type of health care available in the country they are visiting and also where they are staying, in relation to the closest hospital or medical facility.  It’s far better to be prepared, just in case.”

Another point to consider is that even if you are covered for pregnancy by your travel insurance, travel insurance providers can only pay for medical treatment that is readily available, so if the baby is born in a remote area, then you will end up in hospital in that area, and it might not be of the same standard as the hospital at home in the UK where you had planned to have the baby.

World First’s top tips for travelling when pregnant:

  • Check that you are able to travel  - both outward and return journeys
  • Get the right travel insurance policy – and read the small print
  • Do your research – find out how close health care and medical facilities are to the accommodation
  • Be prepared - take some essentials with you, just in case:  blanket, baby grow, bottle, nappies and wetwipes
  • If travelling in the latter stages of pregnancy take your hospital bag with everything the mid-wife suggested would be needed when having your baby in the UK. 
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