1. Book Refundable Hotels and Flights When Possible and Try to Book Your Trip 3-6 Months in Advance
- Pregnancy can come when you least expect it, hence having the flexibility to change or cancel plans to avoid medical complications abroad or catching infectious illnesses is ideal.
- Avoid booking travel 9-12 months in advance, and instead keep your booking window a bit closer in. Aside from any unexpected medical issues, you should be pretty safe booking most trips that are set to happen within 3-6 months- even if you don’t know whether a baby will be on the way.
2. Purchase Travel Insurance that Covers Pregnancy
In the event that you want to book a trip while trying to get pregnant that is not refundable, and would no longer be safe if you were to become pregnant, then it would be recommended to purchase travel insurance that covers pregnancy. Make sure the travel insurance you purchase has pregnancy as a covered reason to cancel. For additional resources on travel insurance, see the Government of Canada website https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/documents/travel-insurance.
3. Exercise precautions with respect to mosquito borne illnesses:
What we know
Chikungunya, Dengue, Malaria, and Zika are some of the mosquito borne illnesses that can have consequences in pregnancy. No vaccines are currently available for the mosquito-borne illnesses mentioned above, but preventative measures including avoidance of mosquito bites and taking prophylaxis medicine for malaria (if needed) are the best measures we currently have to prevent transmission. Regarding Zika, it can also be sexually transmitted from an affected partner. Using appropriate barrier contraception like condoms can help reduce the risk of spread.
What’s the official travel advice for women trying to get pregnant?
Avoiding travel to affected areas is the safest approach, but don’t forget to talk to your doctor for travel advice and ensuring you take precautions against mosquitos is often sufficient.
With respect to Zika, if you are trying to get pregnant and have visited a country with an ongoing Zika outbreak, see below for recommendations from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
Table 1. Suggested timeframe to wait before getting pregnant after visiting an area with Zika or possible Zika exposure
Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites USE INSECT REPELLENT
Insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women, in particular look for ones with DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide).
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants
If you don’t have insect repellant or are trekking into mosquito heavy areas make sure to use long sleeved shirts and pants. You can also get clothing and gear treated with permethrin, which is safe in pregnancy to ward off insects.
Which countries are affected?
The following countries and territories have reported mosquito-borne illnesses that can affect pregnancy:
Zika affected regions
Shaded areas indicate countries and territories where mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus has been reported. It does not necessarily indicate that mosquito-borne transmission is occurring throughout the entire country or territory.
Malaria affected regions
Chikungunya affected regions:
Dengue affected regions:
And with that, bon voyage!
CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention)
Travel Health:Public Health Agency of Canada