The recent outbreak of the zika virus has led more women to take extra precautions when travelling. Mosquitoes can bring with them all sorts of illnesses besides zika including malaria, West Nile and dengue fever. Generally you will be safe from these diseases in Europe however you should always take precautions. When travelling to certain countries in south america, the Caribbean and South East Asia, be particularly vigilant. Please note also that there have been confirmed zika cases in Cape Verde and some South Pacific Islands. If you are pregnant, always talk to your doctor before making travel arrangements to these areas. For information on which countries are currently affected see the CDC website.

There are a number of ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites when pregnant:

Wear Light Colours

Dark colors tend to attract mosquitoes so wear light colours to avoid being bitten.

Cover Up

Choose lightweight knits and cotton garments that help you stay cool while covering your body. Light-colored clothing that covers as much of your body as possible provides good protection. Clothing should be loose-fitting, because mosquitoes can bite through tight-fitting clothing.

Avoid strong fragrances

Floral or fruity scents and perfumes attract mosquitoes. Choose unscented shampoo, soap, lotions, and oils. Or choose products with a scent that repels mosquitoes such as lavender, citronella, lemongrass, peppermint, or clove.

Use natural repellents

Most natural repellents are based on scents that repel mosquitoes such as citronella. There are a wide range of products on the market, from incense sticks to scented candles and essential oils, to help keep mosquitos at bay.

Use wire mesh and screens on doors and windows

To keep mosquitoes out of your house, install wire mesh or nylon screens on doors and windows and check for holes regularly. Make sure there are no gaps between the frames and walls.

Use Mosquito Nets

If mosquitoes still find their way inside despite your efforts to keep them out, mosquito nets for beds can very effective. Make sure there are no mosquitos inside the net before you go to sleep. If you are travelling with young children, consider buying a mosquito net for prams and strollers for when you are out and about, particularly at dusk when mosquitos are most active.

Use insect repellent

Even if you don’t normally get bitten, mosquitoes may be drawn to you during pregnancy. Keep them at bay by using insect repellent. Products containing the active ingredients DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 offer safe and longer-lasting protection. Natural products such as oil of lemon eucalyptus and citronella products are safe but don’t last as long. Read product labels carefully to see how often to apply and be sure not to reapply more often than recommended.

If you are breastfeeding, make sure not to apply the repellent anywhere near your nipple and ask your pharmacist for the best brand for breastfeeding mums. For more information, see Insect Protection.

Keep your home and surroundings clean

Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water and it takes seven to 10 days for their eggs to hatch.

If you are living in or staying in an area where there are mosquitos present be sure to change water in containers often. Add a few drops of kerosene oil to open drains, small ponds, and other places where stagnant water remains. Regular fumigation also stops mosquitoes from breeding.