It’s hard to give tips about anything to do with pregnancy because every woman is so different and everyone has a different experience.
So today I’m going to share what travelling while pregnant has been like for me and some tips that made it easier. This post may not apply to every pregnant woman. I’m really keen to champion travelling while pregnant and proving you don’t need to put your life on hold, but I’m well aware some women would argue the complete opposite.
I have a pregnancy app which gives daily tips and updates. One day it was all about travelling and it said, ‘You probably won’t want to travel while you’re pregnant or at least limit your trips.’
Aggh, I immediately panicked. I still want to travel! Does that make me a bad mother before my baby is even born? Is it really difficult to travel while you’re pregnant!?
My doctor did tell me to limit long-haul flights to 2 per month but then he told me to ask my midwife.
I asked my midwife and she looked at me with confusion.
“You can travel as much as you feel comfortable with,” she told me with that simple, matter-of-fact and stop-over-thinking it way that midwives do.
The truth is, if you feel happy, healthy and comfortable travelling while you’re pregnant then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.
Like I said in my previous post about pregnancy FAQs, I’ve travelled quite a lot over the past few months.
I’ve been to:
- Paris (twice)
Thankfully, I’ve had a happy and healthy pregnancy so far. The main thing to affect the way I’ve travelled has been tiredness.
I cannot even begin to explain how tiring pregnancy can be, particularly in the first trimester.
The only thing I can compare it to is that feeling after a 4-day festival. I’m well aware this probably isn’t the most suitable comparison but that’s honestly what I felt like.
Travelling while pregnant is similar to what it feels like when you’ve been partying for 4 days straight. You’ve been sleeping for about 5 hours each night, spending at least 12 hours on your feet and 6 of those dancing. You’ve been drinking like a fish and eating nothing but junk food. You’re so exhausted you could fall asleep standing up and you can think about nothing but having a long shower and going to bed. This is how I felt once the clock struck 10pm each night!
I didn’t feel like this all the time but it would hit me like a cannonball about an hour or two before I normally go to bed.
There was no point trying to fight it (trust me, I tried!) so I embraced it and after dinner I’d make my way back to my room and almost instantly fall asleep.
I’d be happy sightseeing and walking all day but felt like I needed to stop and have a drink more often than I normally would. I did my very best to stay hydrated and in hot climates I drank a ton of water.
This, of course, led to lots of toilet stops which can be difficult if you’re sightseeing in a city. One thing I hadn’t realised is that from the very beginning of pregnancy you need to pee more frequently. This was actually my first pregnancy symptom but because I didn’t know about it at the time it didn’t occur to me that the two things could be linked. Even when your baby is the size of a grain of rice, your uterus is growing and pushing against your bladder. Massive flaw in the human body if you ask me!
1. Let people know you’re preggers!
I didn’t start showing until I was about 20 weeks pregnant and even now I could easily hide my bump (23 weeks). This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing but it does mean that most strangers don’t realise I’m pregnant. I’m not expecting anyone to roll out the red carpet but people tend to be more cautious and patient when they realise.
At airport checkins you have more chance of getting an aisle seat (which you’ll need to get to the toilet every 5 minutes) and people are happier to help you with your bags.
Pregnant women often get ushered through the fast-lane in queues to save you standing in line for hours. Most people won’t need this but make the most of it if you feel tired and dizzy.
2. Pack light
For the times when there isn’t anyone to help you with your baggage, make sure you’ve packed light enough to manage your own bags.
3. Take as much water as you can possibly carry
Dehydration can be a serious problem for pregnant women. You’ll feel really crap and you need to be drinking more water while you’re pregnant anyway.
^Travelling solo in Paris
4. Double check what you’re allowed to do
Some activities that you’d normally do while travelling are off-limits while you’re pregnant. Scuba diving is one of them and obviously super high adrenaline activities. You can’t do things like hot-air ballooning too and a few random ones you would never have thought about so just double-check before you book anything.
5. Dress for comfort, not style…
…but stylish can be comfortable too!
The main thing that makes me uncomfortable at the minute is the fact that my organs are being squished up to make space for the baby. This can make sitting on the sofa a little uncomfortable, never mind sitting in a tiny plane seat.
Especially when you’re travelling while pregnant, do everything you can to make yourself as comfortable as possible. For me, this means lose clothing and a snuggily pillow or scarf to help me sleep.
6. Check the airline restrictions
Different airlines have different rules about travelling while pregnant. Most will allow you to fly until about 36 weeks but they will require a letter from your doctor (32 weeks with twins or multiples) once you’ve over 28 weeks to confirm you’re fit and well and won’t go into labour during the flight.
I don’t know how they’d known when you’re 28 weeks so I think it’s best to start carrying a letter when you’re noticeably pregnant.
7. Wear in-flight socks
OK, I’ve actually only worn these once but you’re meant to wear in-flight socks to help prevent DVT, something pregnant women are more prone to.
I know I should wear the socks but I prefer to get up and walk around and stretch out my legs. I actually get up and join the toilet queue when I can see it’s the longest because I know it will be a good 10-minute stand-up opportunity.
9. Vaccinations and medication
I’m not a health expert so I’m not going to comment on this one. All I will say is you should check with your doc or midwife if you need any specific medication for your destination.
Be sensible about where you’re travelling to too. I turned down one trip to an area with a high risk of malaria. I’m sure I could have found suitable anti-malarials but I didn’t want to take the risk.
I did travel to Egypt where there’s a high risk of food poisoning. I spoke to my midwife and she told me that dehydration is the main problem with food poisoning so I packed loads of rehydration salts. As long as you can stay hydrated while you’re ill, your baby won’t be affected. But if you’re suffering from food poisoning for more than 24 hours you should seek a doctor. Try not to take Immodium as this just keeps the bug inside you when your body is doing everything it can to get it out.
Avoid using DEET too as it’s filled with nasty chemicals. This summer I used non-DEET alternatives which are also really effective provided you reapply every hour or so.
10. Listen to your body
When you’re travelling while pregnant, you have a little bump to care for you automatically change your habits and take better care of yourself but just take it slow and listen to your body.
Before I became pregnant I was always guilty of skipping meals but this is something I never do while I’m pregnant. I was also bad for running late for flights or trains so I’d get in a massive stress and panic but I always give myself plenty of time now so I don’t have that feeling of having a heart attack while sitting in traffic half an hour before my plane departs!
If you’ve got any experience or advice about travelling while pregnant please do let us know!