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Long-distance travel at end of pregnancy - opinions please.

(50 Posts)
Stateofplay Wed 03-Oct-12 15:17:06

Ok, here goes - all opinions, and especially from those who have given birth before, and even better, are medical professionals, very welcome. Am I Being Quite Mad? Or Am I Being Optimistic? What Would You Do? (etc etc etc).

I'm 35 weeks pregnant with 2nd baby and live in mid-France with DH and DD. Had uncomplicated birth with DD at 41 weeks, 14 hour-long labour.

My only sister is getting married (10 days before my due date) in Scotland. DD and I are actually supposed to be bridesmaids but what is really important is whether I can even attend or not. The wedding date was set before I became pregnant, and my sister couldn't postpone it - she knows there is a chance I can't go, and is being very kind, but obviously she and I would be extremely gutted for me not to be there, we're very close and it's a big quite traditional wedding, sounds like it'll be a beautiful day. I've held off making a final decision until the last minute, in order to see how my health was at the end of the pregnancy. I'm not high-risk and am doing fine, just usual end-of-pregnancy niggles, am working f/t and will go on mat. leave when 36 weeks and 5 days.

The following travel plan is the only way I can see me being able to go:

- When I finish work I will be 36 weeks and five days. British Airways will fly pregnant women until the end of their 36th week, so I could potentially fly to the UK then, before turning 37 weeks, with a doctor's note. I'd have to bring my 3-yr-old on the flight, but a friend would accompany us for the journey to take care of her.

- DD and I could stay with my parents in England, before being driven to wedding location where sister lives in Scotland (7 hours away) the following week, when I would be 38 weeks, to attend the wedding, staying in a hotel. I think I'd be able to see a local midwife for a check-up that week.

- DH would have to stay at home to keep working, then would drive to the wedding (2,000km), arriving the day before. We would go to the wedding (DD is also a bridesmaid) - have a great time - then the next day drive back home, hoping to do the 2,000km over 3 days, via the Chunnel. If all went well I'd arrive home the day I turn 39 weeks.

The most obvious risks I can see are that the journey and the activity of moving around, sends me into early labour, and I have to find a hospital en route to give birth in (if I get to one in time). Equally I could go into labour while staying in the UK and give birth in one of the local hospitals (I'm officially a UK resident and tax-payer so no problem me giving birth on the NHS). If I did have the baby in the UK, unplanned, I would not only have to sort out birth registration and its UK passport in order to get it home (I'd want to get back home to France asap in order to make the most of my short-ish maternity leave, get DD back into nursery, enjoy being in my own home with baby!), plus there could be difficulties if there are birth complications with the birth or the baby needed special care.

DH is being very supportive, will do whatever I want. If I can't go, he is prepared to fly there with DD, so she can be there as bridesmaid at least, they'll go for 3 days and leave me at home (hopefully I wouldn't go into labour while left behind either, I have good friends and support here, although no family).

Am I crazy to consider this?

panicnotanymore Thu 04-Oct-12 19:26:23

As a random aside, this is your sister's big day and it would be such a shame if she felt sidelined by your pregnancy. The journey will be a big worry for your parents, and that is going to take the focus of her somewhat. Even more so if you go into labour. I know you are doing this for her, but there is something a bit (unintentional) drama queen about it. I mean that nicely, I'm not criticising, just pointing out a potential unforunate flip side.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 04-Oct-12 19:34:16

Can you fly straight to Scotland and stay there for a week (holiday cottage maybe your parents could come too?) then you could scope out the local hospitals and things?

Will you be able to bring baby car seat, buggy, sling, clothes etc in case it does happen?

Runningblue Thu 04-Oct-12 22:07:48

Could you just plan to have the baby in the uk as part of your trip? As in, plan to come back by road but have an acceptable plan b that if it kicks off early/ you feel very unable to travel back on that long journey, you stay put until baby arrives?

SomethingSuitablyWitty Thu 04-Oct-12 22:27:23

Wow, I admire you for even contemplating this to be honest. I went to a wedding involving an over-night stay and a couple of hours drive at 36 weeks and found it very tough going indeed. I undoubtedly sent my blood pressure up fretting and worrying and was just so exhausted by it. To be fair, I had had a bit of scare with the cervix starting to shorten at 32 weeks and had been warned to take it easy so the worry wasn't complete invention on my part. TBH, I don't know if the stress was worth it in the end, though I had made the effort for close friends. I didn't really enjoy it and I even ended up going for monitoring the next day with pains. So, I think you'd need to be in an extremely positive and zen place in your own head to actually go through with this. You sound like you are though. And of course it is your dsis not just a friend.

I would also look into the high-speed train option. Three days driving sounds very hard at that stage of pregnancy.

And finally, my DD was born (with no problems at all in the end thank goodness!) at 38 weeks on the button. You can't count too much on the 41 weeks thing, though I can see why you are factoring it in.

Stateofplay Sat 06-Oct-12 08:34:21

Update: I saw my obstetrician yesterday (US/European, experienced) who told me she was probably the wrong person to ask, as she's pretty liberal about travel when pregnant, and that one of her patients flew a short flight on her due date recently, to see her dying father, and some european airlines do seem to let you get away with flying up to full term. She spent ages talking through every aspect of the trip with me: no, she doesn't think a long car or train journey could impact on the baby's position, ie. back to back, but would be uncomfortable for me stopping every 2 hours for pee and walk; about DVT risk; about getting plenty of time to relax; about potential time it could take from going into labour to getting to a hospital, and so on. Her opinion was that it's not really risky, as I'm not exactly going to the Congo - it's just the UK and northern France!

She gave me the appropriate letter to allow me to fly, then wished me luck and left the decision with me. She's can also give me the whooping cough vaccine before I go if I choose, seeing as women at the same stage of pregnancy in the UK are getting it now (as an aside, she said there are higher vaccination rates here for whooping cough so it's not such a problem, although tetanus increasingly is for newborns... not something I am adding to my worries today though!).

However - a significant however - for the first time yesterday I registered high-ish blood pressure. I've got a week left at work, and the doctor seemed to think it was down to stress. So that's a big thing for me to think about now, and I've obviously got to keep an eye on swelling etc. I'm in bed and staying here all weekend (which means trusting DH to take DD for her first proper haircut hmm).

I'm 36 weeks on Tuesday, and I need to decide soon as I'll fly to UK next weekend if I am going to do this.

PS, panicnotanymore, I really appreciate your point, I hadn't thought of it like that, but it's a good one and possibly could help make my decision easier. I need to speak with my sister, although I don't want to put her in a difficult position in terms of giving her opinion. However, given a few close friends and family members (grandparents) can't be at her wedding, I think it's important to her that I am if possible.

AlisonDB Sat 06-Oct-12 12:04:32

Wow you certainly have a lot to think about over the next few days,
Hope you are ok,
Did you think more about being a vertual guest, if you can't attend in person,
It really was a nice experience, and at least I felt like I'd seen my friend get married.
X

newtonupontheheath Sat 06-Oct-12 13:32:51

It's not the same at all but thought I'd share my experiences...

I went to a friends wedding, travelled 300 miles there on the thurs/fri, wedding on the sat and 300 miles back on the Sunday. I was 38 weeks on the Monday. I found the journey fine, I did get a bit headaches as I didn't drink as much fluid Thursday and Sunday to avoid numerous stops (own fault really)

DH did all the driving, I was perfectly comfortable in our car.

Scoped out local hospitals, had notes, numbers, directions in the car at all times as well as mine and baby's bags.

I'd say the "worst" thing was that it was all everybody asked me about all day- was I going into labour/about to give birth? I didn't know many of these people and got a bit sick of it... I know they meant well but I wanted to chat about how lovely my friends looked and what a amazing day it was. I'm sure it only took the shine off things for me, nobody else would have noticed but still.

Our ds is 2 so I also did lots of running round after him and still felt ok really.

I know you're planning to travel a lot further, but hope that helps a bit. Good luck!

Ps I'm now 40+5 and am still finding driving and car sitting reasonably comfortable.

5madthings Sat 06-Oct-12 13:42:12

I would do it. All.my five were late tho and i continued as normal past my due date rven going away to visit friends/relatives.

You sound like you have thought through all the possibilities and your dr is happy. As you say you are coming to the uk so will be able to access medical.help.if necessary.

Maybe make a note of hospitals that you could stop at uf you needed to ie at your parents, in scotland and on tbe return journey.

Rest up and hope all goes well. smile

Good luck, OP. I'd do it. I'm planning on attending a good friend's wedding at 39+1 this time around, or potentially with a newborn depending when she arrives!

soapnuts Sat 06-Oct-12 13:53:01

I'm really sorry to labour (ha ha!) my point but I don't think I'd trust the customer services person to be honest! Unless you have it in writing that they will let you fly at 36+6 they would actually be within their rights to stop you when you go to fly because you're already at the end of your 37th week - whatever the customer services says, what it says on their website is that you can't fly after the end of your 36th week (ie 35+6)

I'm actually going to have to call BA myself tomorrow cos I need to know what date I can fly until as well (though I have a bit more time to decide than you do!) - I'll let you know what they say to me!

.....having said that, I'd agree that the flight is not the problem and you might find another airline more lenient for such a short flight.

juneau Sat 06-Oct-12 14:27:33

I would definitely not want to sit in a car for 7 hours to get up there and then for three days straight to get back home again. I found sitting in a car for any length of time towards the end of pregnancy very uncomfortable. The flight and the wedding itself I have less issue with.

If it was me I wouldn't go as the way you want to do it is just too much travelling over too many days. And - just because your first baby was born at 41 weeks does not mean that this one will be.

Blu Sat 06-Oct-12 14:42:40

I wouldn't do it, but then I was pernickety about the right conditions for giving birth and wouldn't have wanted to pitch up at any old unfamiliar hospital half way to Scotland.

A 14 hour first labour is quite short - for a second baby you might take 2.5 hours start to finish, while your DH and DD have to stay in a Travelodge in Leeds for 5 days if the baby needed help, for example. In which case you'd miss the wedding anyway...

I probably wouldn't do it, but if you have the right personality you could go for it, and then it will most likely be completely trouble free and you'll be thinking 'what was I worrying about?'.

That doesn't help, does it? grin

Blu Sat 06-Oct-12 14:49:10

Double check your NHS eligibility if necessary - Eligibility rests on whether you actually live here or not:

"Anyone who is deemed to be ordinarily resident in the UK is entitled to free NHS hospital treatment in England. “Ordinarily resident” is a common law concept interpreted by the House of Lords in 1982 as someone who is living lawfully in the United Kingdom voluntarily and for settled purposes as part of the regular order of their life for the time being, with an identifiable purpose for their residence here which has a sufficient degree of continuity to be properly described as settled.

Anyone who is not ordinarily resident is subject to the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 2011. These regulations place a responsibility on NHS hospitals to establish whether a person is ordinarily resident; or exempt from charges under one of a number of exemption categories; or liable for charges.

What about British Nationals? I have paid taxes in the past.

Nationality or past or present payments of UK taxes and National Insurance contributions are not taken into consideration when establishing residence. The only thing relevant is whether you ordinarily live in the UK."

AlisonDB Sat 06-Oct-12 15:26:30

I have to disagree about the whole NHS thing,

i actually live in Holland, but am a UK citizen.
I have been talking to Liverpool Women's Hospital, due to some upset earlier in my pregnancy,
I was actually told by them that as a UK citizen, even though im non resident I have the right to have my baby in the UK.
(She is quite high up in her position there)
I am not going to do this but was glad that I still have the right.

I also have a number of friends who for various reasons now live outside the UK, they have also flown home to have their babies and have not had any problems!

It does not make you an NHS tourist.

Besides if like most Europeans you pay a private Health Insurance, just have those details with you and your French Health insurance will cover any costs.

Blu Sat 06-Oct-12 17:16:05

The section I quoted is from the Dept Health Website.

I have no view on this, but it may be something the OP wishes to re-assure herself of.

Stateofplay Sat 06-Oct-12 17:47:08

Hi, thanks for the further comments - I really appreciate everyone's advice, comments, warnings... ! Re eligibility for NHS, without getting into technicalities of our situation I am actually a UK domicile and my official address is a UK one, as for rest of my family (and we're all British). So I'm ok on that score, but it was definitely something to bear in mind.

I'll call BA again and speak to another advisor, to make absolutely certain I can fly up until 36 weeks and 6 days, before booking the flight, although the first person I spoke to sounded quite sure that was within regs. I also agree about a fast labour - I really don't want to give birth in the Channel Tunnel and be that 'And finally...' news story on the 10pm news! (Or end up naming the baby Chunnel or similar).

beancurd Sat 06-Oct-12 17:58:57

Bp allowing I would do it. I say that as a term pregnant woman, actually all that travel sounds quite restive in comparison to what is going on heresmile

Whatever you decide good luck and if you travel, happy journeying. I did an 8 hour car journey last week, did most of the driving too and it was fine. bit stiff and stopped at more places than usual but nothing too bad.

princesslina Sun 07-Oct-12 17:21:55

Cannot really add anything only that I really fee for you having such a tough decision to make. I just wanted to say that I live in SW France, currently 31wks with first preg and spoke to midwife the other day about the poss of going back to the UK to give birth ... thus travelling close to EDD, not being able to fly as would be past the deadline (I don't know about your hospital but here the hospital have actually set me EDD at 41 weeks, a week later than UK 'official'due date, so maybe check that out as it may affect flying. Anyhow I digressed, the midwife sais she would advise car over train as less vibrations and shorter journey and you can get up and move around as you like. I guess you could do Scotland to London and then London to France over two days ... and could your husband then not drive up he could fly to wedding and travel back with you and DD so a much less tiring trip for him also.

willitbe Sun 07-Oct-12 17:49:38

I would do it: One concern not mentioned yet, would be giving birth in England before the wedding, with the dh missing the birth! But on the other hand everything could go just to plan and really fairly easily, it could all go right.

I hope the bloodpressure goes down soon, and that the stress goes once you have made your decision. Hope it all goes well, whatever you decide.

soapnuts Mon 15-Oct-12 09:00:26

I want to know what happened now! did you fly?

Stateofplay Wed 17-Oct-12 10:27:39

Hello, I didn't want to do too much of an update until 'mission accomplished' in case I tempted fate (which I don't believe in), but yes, I flew here a couple of days ago and am now resting up at my parents' house in the UK. Flew with BA when I was 36+6; two short 1-hour flights, changing at Heathrow T5.

The flights were fine, the BA service was great, and incredibly ABSOLUTELY NOBODY even commented on the fact I am pregnant, nor even asked to see my doctor's letter.

Since I arrived the wonderful local midwife service have seen me every day to check my blood pressure and obs, started me some NHS notes and everyone is being very nice and reacting very politely to my sitution (lots of raised eyebrows behind my back I'm sure which is quite understandable!)

The wedding is in 8 days, and then DH and I will take the long drive home (unless I sneak onto a direct 2-hour flight back, when I'm 38+4... my obstetrician recommended I do that, as she said it's better than the drive, so I'll see...)

Still a long way to go, and I'm still prepared to give birth here if it happens - I'll update again in due course. Thanks again for all the advice and support!

AlisonDB Wed 17-Oct-12 10:46:44

YEY! I've been thinking of you and wondering what you decided!
Enjoy the wedding i bet your dis is thrilled!
Good luck with the rest of the journey, up to the wedding and back home again (yes I think I agree with your obs about sneaking on to a flight!) but I'm a bit of a rebel! ;-)
And yes please give us a full update once you are back on French soil! Lol
X

Goldrill Wed 17-Oct-12 11:36:37

Brilliant! Good for you!
Hope the wedding is wonderful and you make it back home before the other big day. (I'd be sneaking onto the plane too tbh!)

AlisonDB Fri 26-Oct-12 07:36:44

How did the wedding/travel back to France go?
Hope you are ok

soapnuts Fri 26-Oct-12 11:51:29

That is great! I'm so pleased it went well - and it's made me a little less nervous about my longhaul trip in 10 days (and counting!) Hope the trip back to France was as uneventful!

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