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Travel at 37 weeks - crazy?

(57 Posts)
Snowfalls108 Mon 19-Jan-09 16:40:02

So I'm in the early days of pregnancy, but thinking ahead. Obviously things could all go wrong, but touch wood!

My friend is getting married in the south of France when I'll be 37 weeks. I'm meant to be giving a reading, and she's hiring a villa for 12 of us (including DH) to stay in for the week before.

Am I crazy to be contemplating going? I would travel down by train (with a friend), DH would fly down the next day as he's got work, and we would ship all our bags seperately.

Plus points to me are chance to have a week in a villa in the south of France, bob around in the pool, be looked after by friends and the cook who they've got in.
Cons - will I want to move anywhere at that stage? What happens if I go into labour?

As you can tell it's my first time at all this and any advice would be appreciated.
I will obviously take doctors advice too, but would be nice to hear from those who have been there done that! grin

daisy5 Mon 19-Jan-09 16:51:03

My view...

...big shame to miss out unless you really aren't comfortable with the idea. btw you won't be feeling very comfortable at 37 weeks - heat may be annoying at times, sleeping may be hard at times etc.

Have insurance etc, so that you can cancel if you need to. In my antenatal group one girl came five weeks early and another had a planned ceasar at around 37 weeks, so something could happen. However saying that plenty of us go over our due date.

If you decide to go, work out the worst that could happen and plan what you would do if that happened. If you went into labour on the train, into labour on holiday. Have phone numbers of doctors, local maternity hospital etc. Do you speak French? Does anybody in your group?

Probably someone who lives in France can advise a little more.

3littlefrogs Mon 19-Jan-09 16:55:11

If you decide to go, make sure you drink plenty, wear strong support tights and walk up and down the train very frequently to keep the circulation in your legs moving.

If you have any family history of DVT, or if you have varicose veins, ask your consultant what your risk of DVT is, and if they would recommend anything to reduce it.

Snowfalls108 Mon 19-Jan-09 16:55:49

Hi Daisy,
Thanks for the reply.
Yup we'll have a couple of French speakers in the group - wonder how their medical translations are, and if they know the French for "get me some pain killers now!"

I love planning, so that side of it wouldn't be an issue.

Going into labour on the train does not sound fun!

mrsgboring Mon 19-Jan-09 16:56:13

I don't know but I doubt you'd get insurance to cover you that late. Check Eurostar's policy too since they may not carry you that late on.

I really think 37 weeks is just too late, sorry.

Marthasmama Mon 19-Jan-09 16:58:53

I think at 37 weeks I could just about manage roll myself out of bed to shuffle to the toilet. grin

cmotdibbler Mon 19-Jan-09 17:01:45

I really wouldn't. Thats a long train journey when you will want to wee every 5 minutes, possibly not fit into train seat with table, be grumpy as lack of sleep etc.

And having a baby in a different country would not be a great experience I'm guessing. My DS turned up at 35 weeks, after I'd spent several days away on business (in this country) and that was a scary enough prospect

Carrie06 Mon 19-Jan-09 17:06:25

Unlikely that any insurance company would cover you that late. Not sure if the E111 or the new card that replaces it covers childbirth (EHIC or something like that). Cx

Snowfalls108 Mon 19-Jan-09 17:14:51

EHIC covers and Eurostar have no limits.
I've heard good reports about France's maternity care!

magnummum Mon 19-Jan-09 17:20:04

Having been told by all and sundry that first babies are ususally always late - mine was born at 37 weeks (and very quickly). Shame to miss your friend's wedding but personally I wouldn't be leaving the country that close to your due date. Good luck with making a decision!

Astarte Mon 19-Jan-09 17:23:27

I'm 37 weeks pg and not planning to leave the house very frequently, never mind the country!

Snowfalls is this your first baby by any chance? grin

Astarte Mon 19-Jan-09 17:24:04

Ah reread, I see it is. Good luck!

Snowfalls108 Mon 19-Jan-09 17:28:20

oh dear. Am I being a bit silly!
It would be so sad not to go.

Why do people need to get married so far away?

iwantitnow Mon 19-Jan-09 18:03:52

I had excruciating rib pain from 16 weeks in my first pregnancy, this one I've got morning sickness still and I'm over 31 weeks. Long trip on Eurostar I would not be contemplating now and definitely not at 37 weeks. However, some people have very easy pregnancies.

37 weeks is considered full term for a baby have friends who gave birth to first babies then. Would you be coming back at 38 weeks?

If you do book - book very cheap flights for DH, but I would do Eurostar 1st class to get more leg/bump room. I wouldn't agree to doing the reading though in case you have to pull out.

Depends how much its going to cost you to cancel and weighing up the risk of going into labour on the train.

LoveActually Mon 19-Jan-09 18:10:10

Hi Snowfalls,
Morning sickness aside I reckon I've had an easy/comfortable pregnancy, and had been planning to go away and stay with friends(in the UK) at 37 weeks. Am so glad we did not. At 37 weeks all I wanted to do was nest, and I certainly didn't feel like going very far. As iwantitnow said 37 weeks is full term, I'd be surprised if you felt like going by then.

MustHaveaVeryShortMemory Mon 19-Jan-09 19:07:30

Have you read any of this thread? www.mumsnet.com/Talk/childbirth/674896-Am-I-insane-to-consider-a-drug-free-birth

It is about childbirth in France and begins:

- here in France, there is no pain relief other than epidural
- that epidural is not mobile and means there is only one way to give birth - on your back, with feet in stirrups

I had my first baby at 37 weeks.... Don't do it!!

daisy5 Mon 19-Jan-09 19:32:58

Hi again

Yes, Snowfalls - there are quite a few considerations and you would have to know what you are taking on, and would have to be able to easily cancel nearer the time if it didn't appear a good idea.

My cousin delivered in France, and wasn't that impressed with it compared to Australia - they seem to encourage epidurals and like you to stay in bed. So you may have to accept that it would be that way if you went into labour in France and maybe ask around for lots of good and bad experiences in the French system to get a feel for how things can go. But are you the sort of person that would then worry every day that you might go into labour, and therefore it wouldn't be much fun for you anyway. If you are, there is not much point going as you will be stressed.

I went away for a long (romantic - well, sort of) weekend at 36 weeks (4 hours by car) and was happy waddling around - we went out to dinner each night although I wasn't much after 11pm. I actually found it a nice distraction from sitting around at home, which I was getting quite bored with. The travel in the car was fine - I don't remember being uncomfortable at all.

On the train would be a unique birth experience, although first births usually aren't quick (naturally, a few are) so you would start to make plans if you started to get contractions.

If the trainfare is much cheaper now, might it be a good idea just to book it and take a view much nearer the time? Also, you will want your doctors advice then, and if you have a high risk pregnancy they will advise against anyway.

Good luck with whatever you choose. How annoying is the timing!

dinkystinky Mon 19-Jan-09 21:03:33

To be honest, wouldnt be really that keen on travelling that far at 37 weeks as at that stage of pregnancy you feel huge, v uncomfortable (particularly in the heat) and need the loo every 5 minutes (am now 36 weeks with no 2 so know where am coming from). However, if you're having a straight forward pregnancy, and insurance and EHIC will cover you at 37-38 weeks and Eurostar will take you, it is worth considering - though if I were you I'd look in advance into what you'd have to do re passport and getting baby back into the country (and registering its birth) if you do end up birthing in France...

daisy5 Mon 19-Jan-09 21:12:56

Oh yes, a friend of mine was considering birth in Switzerland early, but amongst other things didn't like the idea of all the paperwork. Another friend gave birth in Australia, and the paperwork was a bit slow to come back.

nkf Mon 19-Jan-09 21:14:45

I wouldn't go. Not at 37 weeks. Stick to the sofa.

mrsgboring Mon 19-Jan-09 21:16:44

Is EHIC really enough cover though? I have often read that it is not to be relied on alone (though I always do). You need to look very carefully at what sort of out of pocket expenses you could incur, not least having to stay in France for longer than you bargained if you or the baby are not fit to travel on the appointed return date. Remember you could go into labour on the train going home and end up recovering from a C-section for a week in Paris or something.

I think the type of "easy pregnancy" where you could actually contemplate doing something like this at 37 weeks is extremely rare (easy pregnancy means you don't actually want to jump off a bridge by 38 weeks IMO and IME)

Message withdrawn

Snowfalls108 Mon 19-Jan-09 21:58:55

Thanks for all your thoughts. My mum had both babies late, and easy pregnancies. I think I will probably book and then see how I'm feeling closer to the time. Just looked at insurance and because it's through dh's work it will cover me! Completely understand that I will be knackered, but hopefully it will work. If anyone has travelled this late it would be great to hear.

daisy5 Tue 20-Jan-09 09:38:24

At least that gives you options - booking now and deciding later.

If you go, you will end up with a big folder of paperwork: passport application, addresses and maps of all hospitals near the stops on your route down south (especially Ashford - first stop on UK soil), a page of two of french translations of common labour terms (I had a missed miscarriage in Spain and the hospital staff could speak no English - my partner spoke some Spanish but it was as good as useless when it came to medical terms), a number for any local doctors who speak English etc etc.

Good luck with it all.


FatController Tue 20-Jan-09 09:53:08

EHIC will cover you at 37 weeks. I went to Spain at 35 weeks but I flew (the airline would not carry me after 37 weeks).

I did get quite tired and could not walk too far, spent most of the time in the pool! However a lot of my antenatal class mates were very tired and didn't to go out much by this point, plus a few needed regular hospital checks for breech babies/blood pressure/diabetes etc which you would not be able to have if you were in France.

I would be concerned about the train journey TBH. You will probably be quite uncomfortable by 37 weeks and I'm not sure you would be able to lie down or move about easily on a train....and it's a long train journey to the south of France!

I used to live in France, not sure about actual birth but hospital care is great, you are encouraged to stay in for a while to rest and to learn how to look after baby. Fab! Would be a complete pain to get baby home though (used to work for an french airline and the French love their burocracy and paperwork!)

Personally i would not go cos I fould giving birth odd enough without having to do it in a foreign country! Plus I could not have handled the stress of getting home and the long journey.

Just a thought but most of my 'problems' have occurred at 35 wks plus - have been in for monitoring 4 times and once to have a suspected DVT checked out (it wasn't thank goodness!). I would not want to be in a foreign country worried about whether the baby was moving enough!

Travelled by air at 30 weeks (too late in my opinion having done it!)

Travelled 2 hours by car at 36 weeks - very uncomfortable.

On the ante-natal thread Im on quite a few have been early - I think about 7 out of 25 or so. Most 3-4 weeks!

Trouble is you are not going to know until you ARE 37 weeks what you feel like!

My fried went fine and went to the gym the night before she gave birth (at 37 1/2 wks!!)


cherrysunday Tue 20-Jan-09 10:25:00

37 - 40 weeks is considered full term, I wouldn't - sorry!

My first baby came at 38 weeks and my friends first baby came at 37 weeks. Argh... imagine coming back with a newborn on public transport, let alone your first! Sorry to be negative

IdrisTheDragon Tue 20-Jan-09 10:26:28

I was in and out of hospital from 35 weeks with DS with high blood pressure and suspected (eventually confirmed) pre-eclampsia. He was born at 38+3

With DD although I was big and fat and round and heavy, I think I would have been all right to travel some distance.

OneLieIn Tue 20-Jan-09 10:30:12

Do you need to book it now? If not, I would hold off until nearer the time so you can be sure of how you are feeling.

If you do go, make sure you have everything you need with you including a labour bag for the train. Make sure you know (and your companion) what you want to do in the case of going into labour. Be sure you would be happy to:
- have labour (maybe long, maybe short, maybe difficult) in France where you don't understand what the nurses and doctors are saying
- learn to BF and deal with a newborn in a french hospital
- travel back with a newborn - how are you going to do that - on the train? In a car? Car seat?
- travel back yourself if its all not gone to plan - CSection, a lot of pain etc?

the other thing is that you will be 38 weeks on your way back!

Personally, as great as it sounds, I would not do it because I am cautious and even though I speak French, I would not want to go through it all, especially the risk of having to travel with a newborn back.

tigermeow Tue 20-Jan-09 10:50:19

I moved countries when I was 30weeks pg- I needed a letter from my doctor that said I was fit to travel and that the baby wasn't imminent. I didn't think the airline would check the letter but they did, they really do want to be delivering babies mid-flight.

At 37 weeks I was looking 6months pg- I measured very very small for dates yet I still had to give up driving then as it was too uncomfortable.

Book 1st class if you are going to go to give you more room and pack a hospital bag to take with you, you never know when the baby will arrive.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 20-Jan-09 10:58:41

Sorry but agree with the majority of other posters - I wouldn't go.

Yes, it's a very close friend of yours but if she's that close then she will understand that yours and your baby's health, comfort and wellbeing have to take priority.

stacysmom Tue 20-Jan-09 11:00:00

I am at at 37+2 in my first pregnancy, which has been totally uneventful so far(touch wood) and am now in to the second week of maternity leave. There is no way I would contemplate going much further than an hour from home at the moment. DH is French and although his relatives are pretty close by (we're in Kent, they're in the north of Paris) I didn't want to travel at Christmas either. I get uncomfortable after too long in the car despite being able to adjust my seating position, and commuting was a nightmare towards the end but at least Eurostar have slightly more comfy (and spacious) seats than SouthEastern! So I think what I'm trying to say is that you probably won't know how you feel until much nearer the time, so it's probably best to sign up as a 'definitely maybe' and get the cheapest fare you can in case you have to cancel.

claricebean Tue 20-Jan-09 11:25:02

Snowfalls, I travelled to the south of France by train in the last month of my first pg. I think I was probably 36 weeks (it was 8 years ago so can't remember exactly). The journey was fine, although the train change in Paris was a bit exhausting. The week was lovely. I swam loads, the weather was lovely (mid June). I am not a laissez faire kinda gal, so would have been a bit nervous, but it was all fine. Of course, everyone's experiences are different, but just wanted to give you a positive one.

neolara Tue 20-Jan-09 12:36:52

You'd be completely insane IMHO. My first baby arrived at 37 + 3. You have absolutely no idea what will happen. Yours may turn up on your due date or later, but it might not.

neolara Tue 20-Jan-09 12:39:25

Also, my first labour was 4 1/2 hours from first twinge to dd being born. If I had been in your potential situation, I might have given birth on the train!

I think I would wait until you're at least 32-34 weeks before making a final decision... you'll see if you're going to be big or small (My bump was bigger at 12 weeks than my friend at 32 weeks blush Mind you she's tall, I'm shortish, her baby a 6lber mine is predicted to be 10lbish!

You will also start seeing the potential 'problems' cropping up, like higher blood pressure or what ever.

Also you mention you mum was late - what about MIL? Don't forget there's two sets of DNA in this baby!

...last thought from me - have you tried telling your friend? if it is a small do she might move it by a month so you are nearer 33 weeks - then much more manageable and you could fly etc...

EmmaPP Thu 22-Jan-09 12:23:26

I definately wouldnt go. Sorry to shed a downer, but at 37 weeks if you had the baby then, it wouldnt even be deemed premature - ie it is a possibility you could go into labour, and would you really want to be abroad if that happens? How remote is it where you are staying? If you still want to go, make sure you check out where the local hospital is - ie the route, and make sure someone will be sober each night to drive you (you cant drive yourself in labour). Do you speak french? If not, would you be ok going through the birth without being able to communicate with the dr's? I only say all this because we had flights booked to go abroad in the later stages of my pregnancy, and this is what my dr said to us, so we cancelled our flights.

theowlwhowasafraidofthedark Thu 22-Jan-09 12:29:01

I had an unplanned home birth at 37 weeks - it was not remotely funny. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

llareggub Thu 22-Jan-09 12:36:34

I wouldn't do it.

My first pregnancy was pretty trouble free, apart from tedious SPD from about 30 weeks. However, at 37 weeks I had odd pains in my tummy and was sent in for monitoring.

Turns out the baby's heart was racing and they decided to whip him out via c-section. DS had jaundice and was under a phototherapy lamp for 24 hours, and I had a post-op infection and an IV antibiotic drip.

The thought of being in a different country with all that and then having to travel home with stitches, bleeding, trying to establish breastfeeding etc would just send me over the edge.

Ask them to take a DVD of the ceremony and celebrate with them when they return.

Nekabu Thu 22-Jan-09 13:31:56

I so sympathise! I have a very good friend who's getting married a couple of weeks after my due date. Unfortunately it's a good couple of hours each way and dh has checked and apparently that is far too long in a car seat for a newborn. So if things go to plan and I hatch when I'm supposed to then I don't think I'll be able to make it. I'm dreading telling her and am gutted at the thought I'm going to miss it ...

I'm flying longhaul when I'm 23/25 and have had my mw asking me to make an appointment to be checked beforehand. I think you may be pushing it to take a long train journey when you're so far along but why don't you ask your mw and see what she thinks?

mrsgboring Thu 22-Jan-09 14:33:10

Nekabu, if you spend longer on the journey and stop to give your baby a rest/feed out of the carseat you will be okay to travel whatever distance you'd feel comfortable with. Actually the main problem with newborns and carseats is that they can reduce their airway if their head slumps forwards in the seat so I would recommend sitting in the back with the baby.

This is all assuming you and baby are otherwise well. If there's anything even slightly amiss you might want to bail out on the trip, but I don't think you need to tell your friend a definite no unless you want to.

mrsgboring Thu 22-Jan-09 14:34:01

And I wouldn't go if you haven't given birth, obviously (to nekabu again)

Nekabu Thu 22-Jan-09 15:05:09

mrsgboring, cool! You reckon that would be OK? How long (ish) do the breaks have to be? I don't mind taking longer over the journey, I just was worried as it'll be only a couple of weeks old and dh said the car seat instructions said no more than 30 mins. The reception's outdoors but as I should be in July it should be OK in a carrycot, shouldn't it? Though we'd only go for a little while to the reception and if it'd be any kind of issue, not at all. It's the wedding ceremony I'll really be upset to miss.

Gemzooks Thu 22-Jan-09 15:11:20

I would hold off deciding for a while.

I went long haul at 30 weeks, short holiday to Italy at 34 weeks and car trip over to Belgium at 37 weeks (gave birth in Belgium).

I have to say I think it's just that bit too late. At 37 weeks I felt fine, great, but could not do that much, everything is geared up for the birth, it is not a time to be making a journey, psychologically you really don't feel like moving far from home. I know it's a pity to miss it though. with a kid, it's a nightmare attending weddings as well! Don't decide yet but don't promise to do a reading..

I say go for it!!!!!!

I travelled to france for two weeks at 36 weeks pregnant in a van with exh 3 years ago it was absolutely fine, knackering but fine

I now live in France and gave birth to DD here in October. The care antenatal and postnatal is fantastic the birth was very medicalised imo (I was a midwife in uk)

I would say to make preparations just in case you do go into labour. make sure you know where the nearest hospital is, if possible get the number of a good translator (although trust me you wont need it in labour I dont speak much french but made myself understood), take the numbers of the nearest embassy very handy for advice etc and dont worry about it.Make sure you have your hospital notes and marriage certificate if you are married

The hospital registered the birth for me and the passport application was easy and very quick it was back within a week, although very expensive compared to the UK

anything else you want to know just pm me and I will help if I can where abouts are you staying?

glastocat Thu 22-Jan-09 22:05:46

I think you are utterly bonkers even thinking about it. Really, you have no idea how you will be feeling like then. One of my aunts has had all of her five babies at 35 weeks, that's normal for her. And 37 weeks is full term!

Snowfalls108 Fri 23-Jan-09 12:25:03

Hi Helenhismadwife

Thanks for all the advice. We'll be near Antibes - very close to hospitals etc.
If I think of anymore questions I will send them over.
Doing my dates again, I think I'll actually be 36 weeks so that might help!
Thanks everyone for the advice - I will take medical advice and see how I'm feeling closer to the time.

mrsgboring Fri 23-Jan-09 14:05:18

Nekabu, I'd go by how well rested you feel. The carseat instructions seem a bit bonkers to me, though. Usually they say no more than 2 hours at a time, then we'd have about 45 mins' break. If you are breastfeeding you'll want mealbreaks that freqently practically grin and no-one should drive more than 2 hours without a break anyway.

Baby will not be remotely bothered where it is provided it's warm/cool enough, dry, clean and fed and gets cuddles as needed, all eminently doable at a wedding, so long as you're all feeling well enough.

WorzselMummage Fri 23-Jan-09 14:08:54

Completly Crazy !

BabyBaby123 Fri 23-Jan-09 14:13:23

is this your first baby? i'm making assumptions only because i feel you really have no idea of how you will be feeling at that time until that time comes - chances are you will not feel remotely like going, you will be the size of a house, have piles (!) and only be interested in cleaning your house. I really wouldn't....

ThursdayNext Fri 23-Jan-09 14:14:06

I really wouldn't, sorry

I felt perfectly well at this stage of pregnancy, but then had my first baby at 37 weeks exactly, second at 36 weeks

Due date is just an estimate, 'normal' pregnancy lasts between 37 and 42 weeks, 6 - 10% of babies born before 37 weeks

Even if you do feel well, there is still a reasonable chance of you going into labour. I'm feeling a bit anxious imagining my waters breaking on Eurostar...

I really do think the main thing is how you feel, how tired you are, if you want to stay close to home and if everything is medically well etc every pregnancy is different with some of mine just getting out of bed in the last weeks was an effort with others including my last one right up to the day I went into labour I was fine

Its not like you are planning travelling somewhere remote miles away from medical care, you are coming to a country that provides medical care that is a very high standard, yes its a different laguage but most french speak some english.

As long as you make provisions in case you go into labour you will be fine,

daisy5 Sat 24-Jan-09 08:03:44

Just one observation from all this.

It seems that the people who have travelled late in pregnancy and the people who have given birth overseas (or have close friends and family who have) are mostly the ones saying 'if you want to go, plan well and thoroughly and get advice and checks nearer the time - if you have the baby there, it will probably be more challenging, but if your heart is set on the wedding, go'.

My cousin lives in France and I will be staying with her at 35 weeks. Maybe the French system is a little different than the English but it is still first class care compared to much of the world. Her gynacologist is 20mins away. If I have any heart rate issues or any twinges, I will be straight off to see him, just as in England I would be straight off to see my midwife. If all is not well, I would happily go into hospital there, much as I would go straight to one here. I was going to the loo on average every 2 hours at 37 weeks - hardly going to put her out too much.

It is France, our next door country, within the European Union, not Outer Mongolia.

OneLieIn Sat 24-Jan-09 08:13:57

Snowfalls, everyone on here is talking about the labour, but I really don't think that is your issue. Agree with others France is a first world country and medical care will be great.

My concerns are what happens after the birth? How are you going to get back with a brand new baby? Car? Train? What about a carseat / cot? What happens when you need to feed every 2 or 3 hours for upto an hour at a time? What about afterpains (trust me, they can really hurt)? What about the bleeding? And not to mention how sore you might be downstairs - trust me sitting is an art after you've given birth.

I am sure you can go through labour OK, I am sure the baby would be born OK. Think very carefully about how hard it would be afterwards. If its your first DC, I definitely would not. I don't know anyone who has managed to get dressed in the first few days at home, let alone travel many hundreds of miles.

I know you are sad not to be there- but honestly, make it easy on yourself.

TopsyTurtle Sat 27-Feb-10 00:22:01


We have a holiday booked in the south of France for May, I will be 36/37 weeks at this time too. I already have 1 son who was born on time. I have got my EH1C Card, which covers you for any treatment in the EU that you would get on the NHS. We are trying Ravenhall Insurance for extra travel cover, but you have to contact them by phone.
Just because you are having a baby does not mean that you cannot do these things. Just find a seat near the Loo and think about the nice time that you will have.... How dissapointed would you be to miss it?
My Husbands Cousin went to France specifically to have her 1st child born there, due to the excellent Maternity care they provide... Just find out how far the local maternity unit is from where you are staying. Good Luck and enjoy...

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