Perhaps in a last ditch effort to take full advantage of the last few months of freedom, many expectant couples plan some sort of travel during pregnancy. With careful planning, traveling while pregnant can be just as enjoyable as before your baby was on its way.
Most pregnant women will find that their first trimester is no time for travel — unless you want your itinerary to include morning sickness and fatigue. And if you’re planning a beach trip, a bloated first trimester tummy isn’t nearly as cute as a second trimester baby bump. For most couples, the second trimester — from about 14 to 27 weeks — is the optimum time for travel during pregnancy. By your third trimester, you may feel too big and tired for traveling, and after 36 weeks, the majority of doctors will advise against travel, especially via airplane. Some airlines have strict policies about traveling while pregnant, particularly for women past 36 weeks.
Choosing a Destination
Although you may greet your second trimester with a renewed energy and exuberance, you will not be quite as fancy free as you were before pregnancy. You’ll need to take special care of your body, and recognize your limitations. It’s best to choose a relaxing vacation destination, one where you can take it easy and enjoy your time together as a couple. Beach destinations are always popular, as are spa retreats where you can get some pampering. If working on your tan in a tropical locale isn’t your idea of fun, then choose a destination where you can have a careful balance of sightseeing, activities and downtime. Keep in mind that when traveling while pregnant, you may not be able to keep up the pace you did before. Check with your doctor beforehand, particularly if you have any medical conditions that need to be monitored. Above all, avoid rigorous activities such as skiing, skydiving, horseback riding, etc.
Some travel agencies even offer a “babymoon” package for couples taking their last vacation before the baby arrives. These are specifically tailored to accommodate pregnant moms and expecting dads, allowing them to “relax, rejuvenate and reconnect.”
When selecting a destination, keep in mind that pregnancy can bring with it unexpected complications, so a remote island with no hospital may not be a smart idea. Plan ahead, and locate a doctor who you can call (and your insurance will pay for) if you have any complications or concerns. Locating the nearest hospital or medical clinic is also useful, just in case.
Check with your doctor about vaccinations, as some foreign destinations may require them. Some vaccinations are not safe to get when you’re pregnant, so keep this in mind when planning to travel during pregnancy. In some countries, the water supply isn’t safe for foreigners, so you may need to bring water, or purchase it once you arrive.
Comfort is the utmost priority when traveling while pregnant. Be sure to pack lightweight, comfortable clothes, as well as sensible shoes. There’s no harm in a couple of strappy sandals or heels for a night out, but pregnant feet are sensitive, prone to cramping, swelling and aches, so give yourself (and your feet!) a break by bringing comfy shoes. You may also want to bring support hose for the plane trip, and soft slippers for swelling feet.
For frequent pit stops, bring along some sanitizing wipes, toilet paper and antibacterial hand gel. Pregnant women are prone to colds and runny noses, so bring some purse sized tissue packs as well.
For the trip, pack some light, healthy snacks to keep your tummy happy, and plenty of water to stay hydrated. This will also help with swelling. Don’t forget your prenatal vitamins and any medications you require. Keep a list of emergency contacts with you, as well as your medical insurance and a copy of your prenatal chart, just in case you have to see a doctor.
If your destination is local, traveling by car may be the way to go, as long as you can plan for frequent stops. Since pregnant women are prone to swelling, cramping and blood clots, the number one rule for traveling while pregnant is to take plenty of breaks to stretch, move around and change positions every 30 minutes to 2 hours. If you plan to fly, plan a direct flight if possible, to avoid stressful connections. Book an aisle seat for quick access to the bathrooms. Sitting at the front of the plane will help in getting on and off of it quickly. It’s easy to get dehydrated on a plane, so drink tons of water — even if it means maneuvering that tiny airplane bathroom with a big belly several times!
Once you’re there, don’t forget to savor the freedom of traveling without kids for the last time! Take it easy, listen to your body, and enjoy your “babymoon!”