Insights: Babymoon and parental leave holiday

We have gathered some good advice for pregnant travellers and families with very young children.

Babymoon and parental leave holiday

Most people are familiar with the concept of "honeymoon" - the love holiday many married couples embark on immediately after their wedding. "Babymoon", on the other hand, is a newer craze that many expecting parents follow - namely the couple's last journey as two before the baby's arrival.

Add to this the trend of going on parental leave holiday, which is typically the first trip the new family makes together after the baby is born.

Both are popular, and as far as babymoon is concerned, to many, it is a matter of enjoying their freedom before two becomes three. But there are many things travellers, insurance companies and assistance organisations should take into account.

What do the numbers show?

We have compiled some data in this connection and here we share our knowledge about travel and medical assistance as far as both pregnant and very young travellers are concerned.

  • Every year, SOS International's alarm centre receives more than 600 cases involving pregnant women travelling abroad.
  • Many of these cases concern complications such as bleeding, infections or falls, but there are also more serious cases such as ectopic pregnancies, spontaneous abortions and premature births.
  • Every year, SOS International's alarm centre registers an average of about 35 premature births.

BABYMOON

When you are pregnant

  • Bring your maternity records in case you need to contact a doctor while on holiday.
  • Remember that not all vaccinations are recommended for pregnant women.
  • Check the hospital conditions at your destination and what your travel insurance covers in case you need medical care or home transportation.
  • If there have been any complications during your pregnancy (bleeding, extraordinary scans, sick leaves or the like), you must undergo a medical pre-assessment prior to your travel.

In general, pregnant women should carefully consider - or completely avoid - travelling to countries or areas with increased incidence of exotic diseases. Countries in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan are considered safe.

However, if pregnant women choose to travel to exotic destinations, they should consult an infectious disease specialist before leaving.

Vaccines

Pregnant women should not receive vaccines containing live attenuated viruses. This applies to:

  • BCG (Tuberculosis)
  • Yellow fever
  • Measles
  • Rubella
  • Live polio vaccine
  • Live typhoid vaccine
  • For other vaccines, the risk of infection and illness must be weighed out against the risk of the vaccine.

Giving birth abroad

The most frequent pregnancy-related cases include bleeding and infections, which can cause fever, diarrhoea or vomiting. But we are also experiencing far more serious cases such as ectopic pregnancies, spontaneous abortions and premature births.

In these cases, it is crucial that both mother and child receive the right treatment quickly, which is why it is important to keep track of their travel insurance and to contact their insurance company's alarm centre as soon as possible.

Hospital standards can differ greatly, and not all places have childbirth facilities or facilities for care and treatment of preterm babies - especially if you travel to desolate locations. On top of that, moving a preterm baby can be quite risky.

Flights

Long flights involve a risk of blood clot formation. Pregnancy inherently increases the risk of blood clots. It is therefore particularly important for pregnant women to avoid them:

  • Be as active as possible during the flight.
  • It is recommended to walk around a bit every hour and to move your feet frequently while sitting down.
  • Drink plenty, but be careful with coffee and avoid alcohol.
  • Avoid taking sleeping pills.

According to IATA (International Air Transport Association) guidelines, pregnant women can travel by plane up to and including pregnancy week 35. In weeks 36 and 37, only flights of up to 4 hours without stopover are allowed. Flying is not allowed from week 38 on.

However, it is important to always check the rules that apply to each airline, as these can vary greatly, similarly to travel insurance coverage.

Examples of cases

Mexico: DKK +1,000,000
The traveller is 26 weeks pregnant and goes into labour. The baby is born in a local public hospital and weighs 1 kg at birth. The baby has to be transferred to a private hospital with neonatal specialists and then transported home by ambulance flight.

Expenses for hospital care, transfer to a new treatment facility and ambulance flight home to the Nordics amount to more than DKK 1,000,000.

Turkey: DKK +325,000 
The traveller is 23 weeks pregnant and her water breaks. There is 1,100 km to the nearest private hospital with neonatal specialists, which means 13 hours in ambulance as she is unable to fly. So she is admitted to a local public hospital, where she gives birth the next day. The mother and child must subsequently be transferred to a hospital in Istanbul and then transported home by ambulance flight to the Nordics.

Expenses for hospital care, transfer to a new treatment facility and ambulance flight home to the Nordics amount to more than DKK 325,000.

Remember to check your insurance coverage and if there have been any complications during your pregnancy (bleeding, extraordinary scans, sick leaves or the like), you must undergo a medical pre-assessment prior to your travel.

PARENTAL LEAVE HOLIDAY

When travelling with a baby

There are several things to be aware of when travelling with babies or very young children.

They cannot handle the same exposure to sun, they dehydrate faster and if they need help, the hospital standards where they are, might not always be adequate, just as the distance to hospitals with specialised paediatricians can be long when you are on a small island or far from large cities.

SOS International's paediatrician gives some good advice.

Sunburn

The sun is often stronger when travelling south and you often stay outside for a longer period, so it is important to apply sun protection to avoid sunburn.

  • Use an appropriate SPF throughout the day.
  • Be sure to stay in the shade between noon and 3 o’clock.
  • Infants should ideally avoid staying in direct sunlight, as they cannot change their position or place, or say if they feel too hot.
Pool and sea bathing

If you remain in the water very long, you might experience ear discomfort, which is especially true for children who get water in their ear canals.

  • Be sure to dry the ears well with a towel after bathing.
  • Remember to take breaks from bathing to give the ears a break from the water.
  • The last good advice and very important message is never to let your children out of sight near water. Always keep an eye on your child by the pool or on the beach, because things can go wrong very quickly. Luckily, we have only a few serious drowning accidents, and most people are rescued just in time, but it is a terrible experience for both the child and the parents.
Other good advice
  • Offer the kids plenty of bottled water. In relation to their size, children have a greater fluid need than adults, and they become dehydrated faster. You can assess whether a child has had enough to drink by ensuring that it has good urine output.
  • Take special care of infants and small children and the sun, keep them in the shade and put light cotton clothes on them as they can get burned very easily.
  • Another piece of advice is to remember mosquito protection. Dengue fever and other mosquito-borne virus and parasite infections, such as malaria, are found in many places in the tropics and sub-tropics.
Gastrointestinal infections and fever are getting more and more common and are rarely severe, but it can of course be frustrating and worrying for the parents, and not least for the baby. Ensure a good hygiene and especially good hand hygiene for your child.
- Paediatrician Kaare Lundstrøm

How do we best help the children?

The most common diseases among children are gastrointestinal infections (gastroenteritis).

It can be caused by viruses that are transmitted via the pool, for example, or by bacteria in the food.

The second most common diagnosis is fever, which can have many causes including flu, cold and cystitis. The fever is often caused by viral infections that could just as well affect the children at home.

When children are to be treated via the alarm centre, parents play an important role.

Children, especially 0-3 years of age, cannot always express in words what they feel and experience, even to their parents.

Therefore, the alarm centre needs the eyes of the parents to see with. Parents know their children and are best able to assess how their children are doing in a climate context different from the one at home.

Contact SOS International's alarm centre

Typical diseases for children

  • Gastrointestinal infections - gastroenteritis. This may be due to viruses or bacteria.
  • Fever - the causes can be many, for example flu, colds, cystitis. Viral infections often cause fever in children and can just as easily hit at home. The infection is often airborne.
  • Bronchitis and asthmatic bronchitis/respiratory infection.
  • Chickenpox - this is often something children bring from home as the incubation period is 2-3 weeks. There are strict rules for when to travel, and children often can feel good, but still not meet the criteria for getting on a plane.
  • Ear inflammation/middle ear inflammation - children are often infected in the swimming pool. There are rules for when to fly with middle ear inflammation and it can be very painful for the child if these rules are not followed.

Contact us

Are you travelling and in need of acute assistance?

Contact SOS International's alarm centre on +45 7010 5050.

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