Between the rush to the airport and trying to remember if all the important items have been packed, flying abroad can be tough at the best of times, but travelling overseas while pregnant creates its own set of issues which a British woman who went into labour whilst on holiday in the UAE recently found out!
Research of 2,000 travellers from the consumer research awareness initiative travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk found that 4 in 5 (82%) of those questioned did not know that pregnant women are not recommended to fly 27 weeks into the pregnancy, despite the fact that two thirds (67%) of respondents with children under 5 years of age had, either themselves or their partner, flown abroad while pregnant. After 27 weeks into pregnancy, most airlines won’t allow a pregnant passenger to check into their flight without a doctor’s note confirming details such as their health status and delivery date. Holidaymakers should also check with a doctor about the danger of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) while flying, as the risk is increased for pregnant passengers.
If a baby is born prematurely while the mother is abroad on holiday, then the care of the premature baby, including medical bills, accommodation and other expenses, will generally be covered under the parents’ travel insurance policy. However it is not recommended for a premature baby to fly until the actual due date, which 77% of those surveyed were unaware of, placing the child at risk and the parents facing heavy bills for extending their stay abroad.
People travelling overseas without travel insurance could be left to foot a rather hefty bill to cover the birth of the baby as well as fees for the time spent abroad which includes accommodation, visas (depending on the country the parents may have to leave and re-enter the location to renew their visas which could mean a lengthy travel several times over the duration of the stay), medical fees as well as additional expenses for items the baby may require.
Expectant mothers planning to travel when pregnant should carefully plan which country to visit, as when they travel the NHS won’t travel with them! Different regions of the world have varying levels of healthcare. Also a developing country may have limited access to incubators, if one is available at all.
Premature births abroad can cost upwards of a whopping £100,000, with the cost of medical bills, accommodation and other expenses. While the UK has the benefits of the NHS, it’s easy to forget that even in a wealthy country like the USA, healthcare is not free and there is likely be an eye wateringly extortionate bill for the baby’s delivery. Stays at hospitals in the USA cost on average over £5,000 a day – not to mention the cost of a normal labour and delivery is over £10,000. A C-section costs $16,000 but, if medically necessary, will be covered under your travel insurance. However, if you travel after 27 weeks, and have a normal childbirth with no complications, the medical bills will be you or your partner’s responsibility.
Fiona Macrae from travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk advises that Travel insurance is a must have for any holiday.
“It covers you for personal possessions, medical cover and cancellation, but expectant parents travelling abroad will have several other important considerations when looking for a suitable travel insurance policy.
Should you give birth abroad, any treatment your baby needs will generally be covered under your travel insurance policy, which is especially important if the baby needs additional specialist medical care. However what our independent research shows is that very few people realise that a premature baby should not fly until after their due date, which can mean extending your holiday by a couple of months. And although we don’t want to think of the worst happening while on holiday, it’s always advisable to plan. So if you are travelling while pregnant look for a policy specific to your needs. For example a policy that would offer the extra cover to fly another family member out to support you and your partner or one that offers cover for the all-important new-born baby essentials.
It can be distressing being away from your familiar surroundings and family when you have your baby, particularly a premature baby, and buying the right travel insurance policy that would provide you with that extra support would give you added piece of mind.
Top five holiday tips for pregnant travellers:
- Plan the dates of your holiday carefully
- Know the estimated date of birth
- Consult with your doctor about health risks of the country that you planning on travelling to
- Think about the destination of your babymoon carefully, would there be suitable facilities to look after you and your baby should you go into early labour
- Carefully check the travel insurance policy does it provide the extra cover you require