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Let’s face it, as exciting as it is bringing a baby into the world, our lives are about to get rocked! These next few months are probably the last time you will have some real alone time with your partner and while some people like to spend this time nesting and snuggling on the couch, others want to get out and have one last hurrah! AKA the babymoon!
There aren’t many things I love more than traveling, and my hubby and I try to get to at least one new US destination and one new international destination a year. When we found out we were pregnant, we were even more eager to get a couple more trips in before the little one’s arrival changes our lives forever!
Picking a spot was a little tricky. Finances are tight, and only going to get tighter. There are also some places I couldn’t imagine going and not being able to enjoy some of the local delicacies due to my pregnancy. AKA – France for cheese and Italy for wine to name a couple! We didn’t want to go somewhere TOO far away but still wanted to be a little adventurous.
We decided on Iceland! It was the perfect destination because it wouldn’t be too hot even though we were planning on traveling in July, the flight is only 5.5 hours from NYC, and while we were there we traveled everywhere by car so we were on our own schedule. I was also nicely situated at 28 weeks pregnant, so I wasn’t too too huge and uncomfortable yet or still dealing with any morning sickness.
During pregnancy, I also traveled to Salt Lake City at 8 weeks, San Diego at 18 weeks, and NYC at 30 weeks preggo! Just seeing that in print makes me exhausted and I definitely would have done some things differently in hindsight! My experiences on these flights have ranged from ‘this is a piece of cake’ to ‘I think I might be dying right now do you think the pilot can land the plane?!’
Here are some tips for traveling in pregnancy and things that I wish I had thought of ahead of time!
Think about the timing of your trip
All three trimesters of pregnancy aren’t created equal when it comes to travel. The first trimester brings fatigue and non-stop nausea, and the third trimester is full of discomfort and carrying that baby in your belly can wear you out fast! It is usually best to travel in the second trimester between 20-30 weeks. This is called the ‘honeymoon period’ of pregnancy for a reason! Go ahead and make it the babymoon period as well!
Try to avoid travel after 36-38 weeks. You never know when you little one might decide to make his debut! And before you travel always consult your doctor and make sure you have the green light. If you are carrying multiples or have a high-risk pregnancy you may have additional travel restrictions.
If you are scheduled to deliver within 30 days of take-off you may need a note from your doctor – check with your specific airline and see what their pregnancy travel requirements are ahead of time so you aren’t surprised. I had absolutely no idea about this!
Choose your location wisely!
If you are pregnant or considering getting pregnant, you are going to want to avoid traveling to areas where Zika outbreaks are ongoing. Zika is a mosquito borne illness that can cause serious birth defects. I got pregnant in Mexico (whoopsie!) but thankfully in an area with only one case of Zika. I did have all the testing done when I returned home and so did my hubby. Everything worked out okay, but it definitely added stress and hefty price tags for the testing that can be avoided!
Malaria is another mosquito-carried illness that is dangerous for pregnant woman and should be avoided. For a current list of places with Zika and malaria outbreaks, as well as other areas that may be risky for pregnant women, please visit wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/.
Traveler’s diarrhea is also something to consider when traveling internationally. Diarrhea is no fun when you are not pregnant but complicates things even further in pregnancy. To avoid this, drink bottled water, make sure milk and cheese is pasteurized, avoid fresh fruits and vegetables unless they can be cooked or peeled (like a banana or orange), and make sure all meats have been cooked thoroughly.
Altitudes over 12,000 feet should be avoided and you should consider the activities you would want to participate in at your chosen locale. Scuba diving is a no-no when pregnant so that bucket-list scuba trip to the Great Blue Hole in Belize needs to wait. Potentially dangerous sports such as skiing, skydiving and horseback riding should also be avoided. Take this time to relax on the beach or do some yoga! You deserve it!
Bring your Prenatal Records
You never know when you might find yourself in an emergency situation where you have to see a doctor who is unfamiliar with your medical history and pregnancy. It is important to have your prenatal records as well as any ultrasounds on hand for the doctor to review so you can be treated quickly and appropriately.
Make sure you have travel insurance or at least check your insurance policy to see if you are covered internationally. Get your vaccinations up to date and speak with your doctor about what vaccinations you may need for the babymoon location you chose.
You should also locate a doctor ahead of time – even if you are in perfect health! You never know what may happen. Check out the following websites and locate an OB where you will be before you head out on your vacay!
Travel by Car When Possible
Traveling by car allows you to take breaks to stretch or use the restroom when needed. You are in charge of your itinerary and you are closer to medical attention if needed. When using a seatbelt make sure the lap belt is low across your hips below the belly and the shoulder strap is across the center of your chest and to the side of your growing bump! You should move your seat as far back as possible in case you are in an accident and the airbag deploys. Ideally, you should sit at least 10 inches from your steering wheel.
Get an Aisle Seat
If you do travel by plane, get an aisle seat, which allows you to get up frequently. You should be staying hydrated which of course means frequent trips to the restroom!
Get up and walk up and down the aisle when you can to get your blood pumping and to help prevent blood clots. Pregnant women are at higher risk for blood clots and sitting still for long periods of time increases this risk. Stay hydrated, wear loose clothing, get up and move every hour, try not to cross your legs, and keep your legs elevated whenever possible.
I typically love the window seat on flights and I made the mistake of sitting in one during my last flight at 30 weeks pregnant. I happened to get stuck on the runway for FIVE HOURS on my way to NY and was so uncomfortable smushed there against the window the whole time, not able to get up. They also didn’t come around with any snacks so I recommend having healthy snacks and water on hand at all times just in case.
One the way home, I was also in the window seat, and I never ever get claustrophobic, but I had a man the size of a football player next to me and I felt dizzy and nauseous and honestly thought I was going to pass out. I had to get up twice just to get some breathing room and both times felt bad making everyone in my row get up for me. I would have been much happier and more comfortable had I been in the aisle seat.
Cruisin’ for a brusin’?
Cruises bring some special considerations. For one, you are on a boat that is rocking in the middle of the ocean. If you have any nausea, there is a good chance this will be worsened! Before you leave, check with your doctor to see what medications are safe to take for seasickness.
You should make sure there is a medical professional on board the ship and that there are modern medical facilities at any port you might be stopping at. Smaller ships, fewer than 100 people, are not required to have a physician or nurse on board. Also check and see what week of pregnancy your cruise line will let you travel until. I have seen restrictions anywhere from 24-27 weeks!
Cruise ships are notorious for having outbreaks of a group of viruses called Norovirus, which cause severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. You can catch it by eating foods or touching surfaces contaminated by the virus. Make sure you wash your hands frequently while on a cruise ship!
This is such a special time in your life! Savor every moment that you and your partner have together as a couple, and bond with that little life growing inside of you. You will soon be a family of 3 – (or 4, or 5!) and life is going to change dramatically! Relax, read some books, eat some delicious food and soak up this incredible world that we live in!