You don’t have to look very far to see pregnant women enjoying travel. Scroll through social media and you’re likely to find moms-to-be rocking their baby bumps in all kinds of destinations. Some expecting moms love to stay active and enjoy the great outdoors, some enjoy taking in culture on quick city breaks, and others are taking advantage of their final pre-baby months by relaxing on the beach.
Whichever category you happen to fall into, just know that being pregnant usually doesn’t mean you have to stop traveling. Communication with your doctor is key, but as long as you get the go-ahead, most of the world is your oyster.
I’m currently pregnant with our 4th child, and over the years I have experienced international travel, long road trips and staycations in a nearby city while expecting. For the most part, traveling during a normal pregnancy is no big deal. You just need to take a few extra precautions to make sure you’re healthy and comfortable during this exciting and exhausting time in your life.
Here are my top tips for enjoying all different kinds of travel during pregnancy.
From difficult pregnancy symptoms to medical care and Zika, moms-to-be have a lot to consider when choosing travel destinations.
In recent years, Zika outbreaks have been a major concern for pregnant women who want to travel. The best course of action is to check with the CDC for Zika travel information. Many areas that were off-limits due to reported Zika cases in recent years are currently in the clear, though you should still check with your doctor about risks and mosquito bite prevention if you plan to visit.
You may also want to limit your travel to destinations with excellent health care options, especially if you’re experiencing complications or difficult pregnancy symptoms. In addition, when traveling during your first or third trimester, the risk of medical emergencies is higher, so always check with your healthcare provider before taking off.
Flying during Pregnancy
Whether you’re traveling for business or relaxing on a babymoon or family vacation, chances are good that you’ll be participating in air travel during your pregnancy. For the most part, flying during pregnancy is no big deal, but there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure your flight is safe and comfortable.
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First, make sure you’re allowed to fly. Some airlines have restrictions on how far into a pregnancy a woman can fly. Often the cutoff is 36 weeks, but some airlines have stricter policies. To be safe, check with your doctor to be sure they don’t have any concerns, especially if you’re considered high risk. It can’t hurt to have a doctor’s note giving you the green light for air travel, too, when you’re traveling later in your pregnancy.
Another thing to be aware of is the potential for blood clots from sitting for long periods of time. Try bringing a pair of compression socks and don’t forget to stand up and walk around when the seatbelt sign is turned off to get your blood flowing. Drinking lots of water is a great way to reduce swelling and it also ensures that you’ll be getting up to use the restroom often.
Finally, keep comfort in mind, especially if you’re still dealing with nausea and fatigue. I’ve flown in both first and second trimester and both times I made sure to have granola bars, sandwiches, apple slices and other healthy and filling snacks on hand to keep hunger and nausea at bay. Other emergency staples in my carry-on included pregnancy-safe pain reliever for headaches, a refillable water bottle, a citrusy essential oil to smell for nausea, Sea-Bands, mints, ginger candies and an airsick bag.
Road Tripping during Pregnancy
A road trip can be a wonderful alternative to plane travel if you want to stay relatively close to home.
Make sure to wear your seatbelt to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of your unborn child, and keep the airbags on. Map out frequent stops to stretch your legs ahead of time. Riding in a car gets less comfortable the further you are into your pregnancy, so give yourself grace if you need to stop more often than you’re used to.
Bring lots of healthy snacks, since an empty stomach and motion sickness can exacerbate any nausea you may already be feeling. Drink plenty of water and have some sour or ginger candies to suck on in case of a queasy stomach.
Exploring while Pregnant
Not much has to change about your travel style when you’re expecting. Walking is a great way to stay active during pregnancy, so explore that new city, go hiking through a National Park or take long strolls on beautiful beaches.
Just keep in mind that you may not have the same stamina, so take frequent rests and stay hydrated. Comfortable walking shoes are a must when your feet swell up to twice their normal size, especially as you get closer to your due date. You might also have to pass on adventurous activities like zip-lining or certain water sports. Just do your research and talk to your doctor if you’re unsure.
You’ll also want to be more careful about what you’re eating and drinking to avoid viruses and bacteria that spread through food and water. Now might not be the time to try those questionable street tacos or risk drinking contaminated tap water.
The Positives of Travel during Pregnancy
I’ll admit that sometimes pregnancy travel tips can feel like one long list of things you can’t do. Don’t visit this destination, don’t eat those foods, don’t participate in exciting activities. It can feel frustrating and limiting for sure.
I try to reframe that mindset by thinking of pregnancy as a time in my life when I have full permission and encouragement to pamper myself and take it easy. I still make travel a priority, but it might look a little slower. Slow travel gives you a chance to savor the moments and notice things you wouldn’t if you were rushing to fit everything in.
During a time in your life that is so focused on the growing baby inside you, travel is a chance to remember who you are outside of being a mom and what inspires you. It’s a chance to think about something other than the uncomfortable pregnancy symptoms and celebrate your life as it is now, as well as all the joy the future holds for your family.