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Pregnant (or planning) and travelling? Here's what you should consider

Sydney Morning Herald logoSydney Morning Herald 6/10/2018 Mary Ward
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is not pregnant, according to The Sun. © AP Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is not pregnant, according to The Sun.

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, is not pregnant, according to The Sun.

The UK tabloid reported on Sunday that the former Suits star will not be trying for a child until April 2019.

How do they know? Have they interviewed one of her estranged family members? Had an "expert" analysed her stomach region in over 100 paparazzi images? Contracted a fortune teller to map out the exact contents of Meghan's womb until early 2020?

No, they've just looked at her travel itinerary for the next few months.

Meghan, alongside husband Prince Harry, is embarking on a tour of the Pacific from next month, kicking off in Sydney on October 16.

The trip will see her travel through Fiji and Tonga, both countries where outbreaks of Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease which can cause birth defects, have occurred. If Meghan was pregnant, The Sun claims, she would not be taking the risk.

Dr Burton says there are a number of things for women to consider if planning to travel overseas when pregnant. © Getty Dr Burton says there are a number of things for women to consider if planning to travel overseas when pregnant. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smart Traveller website recommends pregnant women discuss travel plans to Fiji and Tonga with their doctor, deferring non-essential travel to affected areas and taking precautions against insect bites while travelling. Similar advice is given by UK authorities.

According to the chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' antenatal/postnatal care network, Dr Wendy Burton, the general medical advice for regions with Zika depends on how far along a woman is in her pregnancy. Precautions should also be followed by male partners who travel to Zika infected areas.

"Couples who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy are advised to wait six months after returning before having a male to female sex without a condom or before trying to conceive," she says.

Dr Burton says there are a number of things for women to consider if planning to travel overseas when pregnant.

Live vaccinations – such as mumps, measles, rubella and chickenpox – are not recommended for pregnant women, although many of the common vaccinations required to travel abroad are not harmful.

"Hep A, typhoid, whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines are safe to give," she says, adding that the influenza vaccine is recommended for pregnant women, even if they are not travelling.

Travelling to regions with Malaria can be complicated, as most anti-malaria medications are not safe for pregnant women. Pregnant women will also become sicker than others if they contract the disease, putting both themselves and their baby at risk, Dr Burton warns.

Of course, there are more general precautions for pregnant women to take when travelling, regardless of the destination.

"Make sure you are covered by your travel insurance for the pregnancy and birth, including pre-term birth, and consider what the medical facilities like where you will be travelling to," says Dr Burton. "If you are in active labour, it can be too dangerous to fly, so don’t assume you will be able to be flown home if something goes wrong."

While women travelling later in their pregnancy might want to consider their own comfort, with Dr Burton recommending paying for extra leg room and making sure you stand up regularly if attempting a long-haul flight while pregnant.

"The longer you sit and the further along in pregnancy you are the higher the risk of a blood clot forming, so long flights towards the end of pregnancy are best avoided both for medical but also for practical reasons."

Gallery: The best tips for travelling with children

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