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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?

Stateofplay Wed 03-Oct-12 18:42:33


sw11mumofone Wed 03-Oct-12 18:56:29

Wow, that's a really tough one. I have one DD who is now 2 and am pregnant with my second. I missed two really close friends' weddings as they were 3 days before my due date and 1 day after and both were abroad. One was in Greece, so a four hour flight wasn't an option at 40 weeks!!
I have to say my gut reaction to your situation would be to go. you have a lot of support and the flight is short. You are familiar with the UK (you're not flying to a third world country) and if the worst came to the worst you would give birth in the UK instead of where you currently live. It sounds like you have really thought it all through and have plans in place for all outcomes. I would definitely check out all hospitals en route home though.
Think of the two worst outcomes and what you would be more disappointed with. To miss your sister's wedding (a once in a lifetime event - I'm close to my sister so can imagine how you feel) or to give birth away from your current home and have to deal with getting back there. I've got to say i would go for it!!

panicnotanymore Wed 03-Oct-12 19:03:03

Personally I think you are insane to even consider it. Forgetting the flight, 7 hours in a car with at that stage would be horrendously uncomfortable. I had to do a 3 hour journey recently and felt sore, hot and sick. I wouldn't have been well enough to attend a wedding after 7 hours.

I'd do it for something like saying good bye to a dying relative, but not a wedding. Weddings are so full on most brides only get about 2 mins with each guest anyway.

apachepony Wed 03-Oct-12 19:10:15

I would be devastated to miss my dsis's wedding, so my instinct would be to say go for it - but I have never been 38 weeks pregnant so maybe not the best person to advise!

southeastlondonmum Wed 03-Oct-12 19:10:31

I would go. I was due on a very close friends wedding. It was in Chester, we live in London. DH and I had already decided to go, take all stuff,drive and check all hospitals on route, and leave DC1. Sadly I miscarried sad but then got preggie again v quickly grin so will be heavily preggie but not quite due. I think you are much more relaxed second time and I had a great first labour so although you can never rule out emcs or complications, it is less likely

greenbananas Wed 03-Oct-12 19:10:42

Yes, that is a really tough one!

Your reasons for wanting to go are positive - your sister will understand if you don't make it so nobody is holding you over a barrel over this. It's totally up to you... Maybe you would be crazy to go, I don't know, but you are certainly not crazy to consider it.

Personally, I wouldn't do it, because I am a disorganised, risk-averse, wimpish sort of person. However, you have clearly thought this through very carefully and planned for every eventuality and I reckon you should do it because you will probably always regret it if you don't. The risks to you and the baby are fairly small, I think (although a medical professional's opinion would be much more valuable than mine!)

I'm 35 weeks as well, and have spent the afternoon in hospital because I had an unexpected fall (everything is fine though). That experience has made me realise that all the best-laid plans can go to pot in an emergency. Still, so long as you can keep an open mind and be flexible, there's no harm in planning for this trip.

Hope you have a lovely time at the wedding if you do decide to go.

southeastlondonmum Wed 03-Oct-12 19:11:49

Leave dc1 with inlaws I mean. Not on her own

TeWiDoesTheHulaInHawaii Wed 03-Oct-12 19:16:24


My 2nd was due around Christmas so we were driving all over the place until I was 38/39ish weeks. At that stage we had to stop so I could walk aroyns and have a wee every hour or so.

I don't think a 2k journey would be feasible.

AlisonDB Wed 03-Oct-12 19:53:39

You really have thought out all likely situations,
Only you knows how your pregnancy is going and how you feel.
(With my 1st preg i felt i could have done any length of travel right upto my due date, this time round even the trip to the local hospital fills me with a level of dread!)

I think if i were you, i would fly there and drive back.
This way you are only dealing with one mamouth journey, and you will have time to rest before hubby joins you.

For the drive back I would try to plan in as many stops as you can both in the UK and France, so you can walk around (would assume that sitting for great lengths of time without being able to walk could potentially cause DVT) maybe wear support tights just to be safe, and make sure you have emergancy suppies in the car just in case, pillows, blankets, food, drink, etc...
I assume you will you be staying overnight in travel lodges and not driving through the night?

Maybe for the return journey, when you plan the route, locate the hospitals which have maternity wards availible along the route so if something happens you know where the nearest hospital will be.

Failing the above happening and you decide at the last minute you just cant handle the travel distance - would any of the guests at the wedding have an iphone/ipad? Do you have one that you could use?

On it there is a function called Facetime!
Someone at the venue contacts you as the service starts and you become a "Virtual Guest"
I did this at my friends wedding!
It wasnt quite the same as being there in person but at least i "saw" her getting married and able to Congratulate her as soon as the service finished! I was even able to join in the toasts!

Whatever you decide stay safe!

AlisonDB Wed 03-Oct-12 19:54:37

Gee wowzer, i didnt mean to reply by way of an essay! x

ladymia Wed 03-Oct-12 21:43:09

I have 2 friends that have given birth in the last month both 10 days before their due date.

I would not personally do it.

noblegiraffe Wed 03-Oct-12 22:26:38

I went to my brother's wedding 5 days before my due date, 150 miles away. By the time it came around the baby was very low down and I'd been unable to walk for more than ten minutes at a time for a few weeks due to pelvic pain.

There was no way I could have done it by car, I took the train, 3 hours and it was bloody awful. I was very uncomfortable the whole time and I'm convinced that it was on the journey that my previously well-positioned baby turned back to back.

I was delighted that I made the wedding, although I wouldn't have done it for anyone else. I then went a week overdue so it wasn't as close as it could have been.

However, when I did give birth, it was an EMCS and we had to stay in hospital for a week due to infection. If I'd given birth away from home it would have been a nightmare, and the journey home post CS would have been unbearable. Knowing this now, I'm not sure I would have risked it again. And you've got much further to go.

lindsell Wed 03-Oct-12 22:40:28

Tough one

Have you considered the train for getting back? Eg you travel back to your family on the first day after wedding (the 7hr journey) and then get train to London, Eurostar to Paris and train on to wherever you live. Depending on where you live that might be doable in 1 day, at most 2 and you would be able to move around on the train/go to the loo as necessary as would your dd. Your dh could then fly up to the wedding so he wouldn't be doing 2 x 2000km drives within a week. Of course the downside is you wouldn't have as much flexibility and your dh would have to carry all the luggage.

I really wouldn't want to miss my dsis' wedding but I personally wouldn't do the flight (big phobia) but I do travel on the train to France to visit my dm quite a lot and the trains are reasonably comfortable and fast so if I did it in your position I would probably do it that way.

Good luck whatever you decide smile

soapnuts Thu 04-Oct-12 01:31:34

sorry to throw a damper on things but.... I thought that BA's rule about flying until the end of your 36th week meant that you couldn't fly after 35+6 because by the time you actually hit 36 weeks, You're actually in your 37th week. Does that make sense? I have been looking at it too as I am likely to have to fly back to the UK to have my baby at the last minute and I decided that 35 weeks was my own personal cut off point. Also have a friend who flew back recently as late as possible and I know she was still 35+ but not quite 36 when she landed.... and she really planned it to be as late as she could! I'm sure a quick call to BA would clarify.

I've missed 4 weddings and two grandparents funerals because I've been pregnant (and this is only DC2!) It's a real bummer because you know its a once in a lifetime day for these people - especially for a sister! But only you can decide if it's worth the risk to get there earlier and possibly have to have the baby in Scotland.

Good luck.

Iheartpasties Thu 04-Oct-12 03:24:07

No way - i wouldnt do it (i'm 35 weeks with dc2)

tinyshinyanddon Thu 04-Oct-12 06:16:13

I would totally do it but I tend to be insanely confident of my abilities as a pregnant woman. One caveat: if you go plan on having the baby somewhere during the trip! Just bear in mind this is a real possibility and if it were to happen you would cope somehow. Good luck!

SoulTrain Thu 04-Oct-12 06:29:14

I would do it, no way would I miss my sisters wedding! As a previous poster said, you're not travelling to a third world country. I finished work at 36 weeks and the week before was driving three hours for work. I'd spread the journey over as long as possible, and personally I wouldn't fly but that's just me. Remember your notes and stuff for the baby! I'm quite, quite sure you'll be fine!

SeymoreInOz Thu 04-Oct-12 06:33:16

What tiny said, prepare to have the baby in transit! Second labours are usually quicker than the first too. I wouldn't do it, just because my first baby arrived at 38 weeks (second arrived at 40 weeks) and it was complicated because my waters broke and I had to be pumped full of antibiotics in hospital until the contractions got going 3 days later. Not sure how that would fit in with such a long journey....

PollyIndia Thu 04-Oct-12 07:05:51

Soap nuts is right. You would be in your 37th week.

I have had an easy pregnancy and still not the uncomfortable at 41 weeks but no way would I take on a 2000 mile journey.

But your sister's wedding... That is a tough one. I suppose if your son was 41 weeks, there is every chance this baby will come over 40 weeks too. Maybe fly a week earlier and as others have said, prepare for labour in the car. It probably won't happen. It is quite the undertaking!

What a lovely sister you are!!

Stateofplay Thu 04-Oct-12 08:28:14

Wow, I'm really touched by all of your thoughtful replies - I was a bit anxious about posting this dilemma (and hello to anyone who recognizes me from it!) but am glad I did. Lots and lots of comments here for me to think about, especially about medical/hospital risks, which are obviously my biggest worry; but I'll start with phoning BA today to clear up the final flying time...

- We could take the train, but I was then worried about the fact a train can only stop at certain points - stations - but in the car we can pull up anywhere, or stop for the night, etc. I thought it would be better to go into labour in a car than on a long-distance train... (we do have quite a big comfortable car at least, which helps a little).
- Yes, lots of driving for DH in just a few days as well - not ideal, but he's young, fit and healthy!
- I've also decided that DD can stay on after the wedding with her GPs, and fly back home with them a couple of days later and meet us there, to avoid her doing the long car journey with DH and I.

I'll see my obstetrician tomorrow for her absolute medical opinion (she's a sensible, balanced and worldly type so hopefully it won't be an outright no).

In a way, I wish someone else would make the decision for me, but that's not going to happen...

Graciescotland Thu 04-Oct-12 08:47:12

I'd probably go, I'll be travelling a similar distance with DS to New York from Toronto (where we live) to meet DH at 35 wks, like the others I think the cut off point for flying is 36 wks though.

If you do decide to go the overnight train from Scotland to London could be a viable option to save sitting up for a good part of the journey home. Train timetable here, connect onto Eurostar or have your DH drive the car to London and chunnel it from there.

FruitSaladIsNotPudding Thu 04-Oct-12 10:06:52

Honestly, I wouldn't do it. You will be beyond exhausted and at a time when you really need to be resting and getting ready for the birth.

Someone up the thread mentioned positioning as well, and it's a good point - sitting in a car for long periods is likely to encourage your baby to go back to back. Maybe that isn't a big deal to you, but it's something to consider.

Stateofplay Thu 04-Oct-12 15:30:04

Ok, so out of 18 replies, 10 say "no way would I do it" and 8 say "yes, I would go". A surprising split, quite even really.

I spoke to British Airways customer services, who confirmed they will let me fly until the end of my 36th week, ie 36+6. They'll also push me around the terminal in a wheelchair, free of charge. blush

Tomorrow I'll speak with my Obstetrician, and her opinion will help me make a final decision, I guess. Your views and personal accounts are really helping me decide though. Thanks for the links to the Caledonian Sleeper, GracieScotland, I hadn't considered that.

From the BA website: For uncomplicated single pregnancies, we restrict travel beyond the end of the 36th week, and for twins, triplets etc., beyond the end of the 32nd week. After your pregnancy has entered its 28th week, we ask that you carry with you a letter from your doctor or midwife, stating the pregnancy is uncomplicated and confirming the expected date of delivery. In this letter, your doctor should state that you are in good health, that they are happy for you to fly, and that (in their opinion) there is no reason why you cannot fly.

Stateofplay Thu 04-Oct-12 15:32:28

NB, yes, the back-to-back thing does worry me.

My DD was back-to-back, and although I had nothing to compare the labour pain to as she was my first, I was told that being back to back made it even more painful. FWIW I ended up labouring for 14 hours with her, then gave birth vaginally, with help of a bit of pethidine.

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