Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling! Just follow these tips that I’ve gleaned from two pregnancies around the world, and voyage on.
Before any pregnant travel, of course, check with your doctor. Make sure you listen well to any specific cautions he or she gives you pertaining to where you’re going, any challenges pertaining to your specific pregnancy, and what you’ll be doing and eating. When I was planning for my solo trip to Dubai while five months pregnant, I was pleasantly surprised to see that my doctor was actually less worried about the trip than I was!
Next, keep in mind that each trimester of pregnancy brings very different traveling conditions.
The First Trimester
During your first trimester the main challenge is usually nausea. Bleh! Continually feeling sick or throwing up is debilitating, and waves of exhaustion can also hit at this point, so general wisdom is to aim to travel during the second trimester when symptoms ease. That said, I have certainly managed voyaging during those first 12 weeks, and what saved me were snacks. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, steadily eating small, bland portions of food like crackers usually settles the stomach of early pregnancy. Do not – I repeat, DO NOT – embark on your first trimester travels without ALWAYS having snacks on hand, whether you’re on a train across Asia, climbing the Eiffel Tower, or lying in bed. Yes, I learned this the hard way, multiple times. While on a pregnant hike in Watkins Glen, NY, for example, I got so nauseous during our snack-free walking that we had to turn back early and get emergency sustenance, thus missing out on some of the best waterfalls.
Napping is the other savior of early pregnancy. Don’t fight that sleep! Your body is doing a crazy and miraculous thing, so any travel itinerary should absolutely account for this and have both built-in rest periods and back-up plans for when you’re too exhausted to go on. While touring Montreal when I was pregnant with our second child, I got so pooped in the middle of one day’s itinerary that I grabbed my husband’s coat, lay it on the ground in a random park, and fell asleep right there. It probably would have been more comfortable to have a scheduled loop back to our hotel at that point, but perhaps it was worth it for me to make that mistake so you don’t have to!
The second trimester of pregnancy is usually the sweet spot of having a cute but manageability petite belly, plus diminished symptoms, so this is the ideal period during which to schedule travel. You could book a couple’s “Babymoon” (as my husband and I did in Hawaii when I was pregnant with our first child), or take the less traditional but still fabulous option of solo pregnant travel, as I did for 9 days alone in the United Arab Emirates during this most recent pregnancy.
While you still need to take the usual precautions for safe eating and activity (e.g. no unpasteurized cheese and no skydiving), this is the ideal time to milk the sympathy of the world for all it’s worth, because things will only get physically harder from here. On my flight to Dubai, for example, I was able to parlay my big belly into getting an entire row of seats all to myself to stretch out!
In your third trimester, things can get really difficult. In my second pregnancy especially, the last several weeks I had trouble even moving, let alone bending. At a certain point, depending on the state of your pregnancy, you won’t even be allowed to fly anymore! (Remember that at any visible level of pregnancy, you need a doctor’s letter.) You will likely be closer to home for any travel at this point, but for any third trimester voyages, remember that the main trick is to take it slow, and to enlist help. For strong, independent women like ourselves, it’s pretty crazy to have to ask your partner to help you put on your socks, for example, but such things may be necessary in that last, intense month of creating life!
There you have my main tips for successful travel during pregnancy. For further permutations of this, do check out my articles on travel with a baby, travel with a toddler, and juggling being pregnant AND having a toddler.
For those of you who are pregnant, what remaining questions do you have? For those who have been through this already, what tips would you add? Do share!