22nd January 2019
This past July I took my first trip overseas while pregnant, since then I counted that I have been on 17 different planes (including domestic and international)! Prior to my first flight I did a lot of research to see how I could travel safely and comfortably. I was very disappointed with the lack of information I could find and extremely disappointed at the suggestion that I simply should not travel overseas while pregnant. Well, for my job and as a personal preference, that just didn’t work. I must say that I did make the decision not to travel in my first trimester as I know that that stage is very delicate and the possibility of needing a doctor is much greater than after the 12 week mark (and I do not suggest travel overseas while in your first trimester). I went against the baby books, blogs and websites and decided to take a trip to Cambodia when I was 14 weeks pregnant. As a disclaimer – I’m not a health care professional, and don’t in any way claim to be. So my first suggestion if you are thinking about traveling overseas while pregnant is to discuss your travel plans with your doctor and see if your doctor says it’s safe to travel. If you’re doctor gives you the go-ahead – then here are a few of my personal suggestions to keep you happy and comfortable while you travel.
Air travel and travel in general can be dehydrating and your body requires a lot of extra fluid while you’re pregnant. Grab your favorite water bottle and make sure to keep it full at all times. I find keeping a large refillable water bottle at my side is a great reminder to drink water. If you’re traveling overseas, stalk up on bottled or safe drinking water and always bring an extra bottle with you. It may feel inconvenient to carry around so much water, but if you get dehydrated your body can react by having strong Braxton Hicks and it’s scary and uncomfortable. While I was in Ohio I was running around chasing my 4 year old son and I had neglected drinking enough water and my body reacted whith Braxton Hicks, trust me – you don’t want this to happen – just carry around that extra water bottle okay?
While in Cambodia I knew that finding my current craving of Fig Newtons wasn’t going to be easy and I also knew neglecting my pregnancy cravings would equate to me being a grumpy travel partner. Because of this I neglected my “pack less” rule and stocked my bag with a good travel box of Fig Newtons. I also threw in travel sized packs of trail mix (with chocolate, cause a girl needs chocolate), fruit roll ups and lolli pops. The travel packs are great because you can put them in your purse or back pack, and keep the extra in your bigger bag which is likely to be checked, or in the trunk or in your overhead compartment. For the long car rides through the middle of the Cambodian countryside, I was so happy to something to satisfy any craving easily accessible. I think Andrea appreciated having snacks in the car too : )
If you have the aisle seat you won’t feel as bad getting up all of the time (and you know you’re going to have to use the restroom every ten minutes anyways, because you’re staying hydrated ; ). Make a little track and walk up your aisle, down the opposite aisle and stretch in the extra space by the flight attendants working area. They won’t mind and you won’t feel silly doing ankle rolls right next to the people sitting opposite you. I like this set of stretches from wikihow.com : http://www.wikihow.com/Do-an-In-Flight-Fitness-Workout – If you’re a Glee fan you may refer to the video the principal made on airline stretches for pure entertainment.
Hopefully you won’t ever need this information, but you’ll feel better knowing you have someone to call if you need to. Also, make sure you have means of communication while you’re traveling. Bring a phone that works in the area which you are traveling, or if you have a guide with you during your trip ask them ahead of time to make sure they have a cell phone. You may also ask your guide to help you find a disposable cell phone for your use during the trip.
I’m all for style, especially during pregnancy when you may not feel your best anyways. However, when traveling you’ll like your trip a lot better if you pack shoes that you can walk in and waistbands that allow for stretching. Also, make sure you’re packing things that keep your temperature cool enough (or warm enough). Traveling in Cambodia in May would normally be a pregnant woman’s nightmare, but I packed clothes that were cool, breathable and I survived. Quick tip: Maxi Dresses are a pregnant woman’s best friend.
Cankles are not pretty nor comfortable and the best way to avoid the dreaded cankle is to keep your feet elevated whenever possible and to stay hydrated.
Hopefully you won’t need them while out, but just in case you do, I’m sure you won’t want to be trying to translate “is it safe to take while pregnant” to a local pharmacy.
This way, if you don’t feel well prior to travel or decide you’re not up for the trip you don’t have to make the tough decision to stay or leave with the whole financial issue making the decision that much more difficult. There are so many other great reasons to get travel insurance if you’re traveling while pregnant, but I know my ability to make decisions while pregnant is sorely lacking and I like anything that helps me make a decision easier. If booking with Journeys Within ask your tour consultant about their Travel Guard policy (it’s really extensive and offers great coverage for pregnancy)
You want to make sure that your hands are clean, because I’m sure you’ll be enjoying al those snacks you packed with you and you don’t want to transport grubby germs onto your food before you place it in your mouth. Also, keep an eye on what you’re putting into your mouth. Make sure the food you are eating is either packaged well or if prepared for you, cooked to full tempurature. If you’re a fruit lover, choose fruits that can be peeled. I had an obsession with fresh pineapple juice – it was amazing. And since they cut the peel off I could enjoy as much of it as I wanted!
Pregnant women are more susceptible to malaria and it is more dangerous for you if you contract it. There are ways to avoid it though. Do NOT take anti-malarials while pregnant – and discuss this with your doctor as I said before I’m not a health care professional. DEET bug spray is your best defense, but you want to use it very sparingly while pregnant. At dawn and dusk when malaria biters are out, wear long sleeve shirts and full length pants or skirts, then apply DEET OVER your clothing. This will deter the bugs and you won’t be putting the chemical onto your skin where it can be absorbed by baby. Also, request bug coils or candles wherever you are and if they’re too far away, insist they move them closer to your table.
This way if you have a thought or a question while you’re out you have a nice easily accessible reference. I downloaded pregnancy apps on my iPad. I like the What to Expect app and the Pampers app. I also have the Contraction Timer app. This was helpful when I had my scare with the Braxton Hicks contractions. When I called my doctor to ask her about the contractions I could tell her the exact spacing between them and she let me know everything was fine.
If having a kid has taught me anything, it’s to communicate my needs. Being polite and afraid to speak up will get you no where. If you’re hungry, ask to stop for food. If you need a restroom, ask to stop. If you need a break or need to cut the day short – there is nothing wrong with that!! Let your travel companions know what you need and I’m sure they’ll be compliant. If you say what you need your entire trip will be so much more comfortable – I promise.
Traveling is fun and an adventure and it doesn’t have to stop just because you’re pregnant or have children. If you plan ahead and prepare and discuss your travel plans with your doctor, the trip can be all you need right now. Being pregnant should be a highlight of your life and just think of how cute your pregnancy pictures are going to be when you have a beautiful overseas backdrop! Relax and enjoy the trip, you deserve it.
Here are a few pics of me prego while traveling (although, I’ll admit my tummy hadn’t quite popped yet in these!)