Travelling When Pregnant
How much can you travel when pregnant? And how far? Can you travel by airplane? Can you drive? Can you hike? Is travel the same in each trimester? What are those things that you especially need to pay attention to? Here comes my experience about travelling when pregnant.
Coming to the very end of my third trimester, sitting at home with a belly too big to let me do much, I’m putting together this guide to tell you about the past 9 months, particularly about my travels in the past 9 months.
Pregnancy changed a lot of things in my life (hah, and it’s just the start, because that little boy, who can arrive any day now, will bring a lot more change), but my passion for travel remained unchanged. Travel is such an important part of our lives, that it was not even a question that we continue travelling during my pregnancy – if we can do it without risking my and our baby’s health, of course.
Fortunately, I have an uncomplicated pregnancy, so there was no medical reason not to travel. With that said, I’m not a doctor or any other kind of health professional, and I am not necessarily recommending the same things I’ve done for anyone. If your health and fitness conditions are different, if there are any complications in your pregnancy, you should consult with your doctor or midwife, and follow their advice first and foremost.
This post is to share my experience about travelling when pregnant, and to give you some ideas to make things smoother and better when you’re on the road. Because we want things to be smoother during our pregnancy. This new state of our body and soul is complicated enough in itself. 😛
Listen to your body
While it’s always important to listen to our body, this is still the most useful advice I got as a pregnant woman. Since our body is changing, we can’t expect the same things from ourselves as we used to. A new life is growing inside us. It takes a lot of energy, and that energy is taken from our body. This is not the time to push ourselves to our limits. But that doesn’t mean we need to rest on the couch all day.
On the contrary, my experience is that light exercises – walking, hiking and yoga – actually made me feel better. I became a worse driver though. I couldn’t concentrate for so long as I used to, so I only drove shorter distances. (Luckily, Csaba could take the wheel then.) Flying was fine for me, but I didn’t take very long flights – the longest was about 5 hours. In my first trimester I went to bed at 8 pm, because I felt sooo tired. Yep, I fell asleep immediately. It hasn’t happened since I was a little child, maybe not even then…?
What does that mean to you? Nothing. 😀 What I wanted to say with these examples is that you’ll notice the difference if you pay attention to yourself. Only you can tell what too much or too tiring is for you. Maybe it means going to bed early. Maybe it means taking a sightseeing bus instead of walking. Or maybe you’re totally fine with long walks, long drives or long flights. We are all different, and being pregnant doesn’t make us the same.
Less is more
Not pushing ourselves to the limits means doing less. Especially that our limits change during pregnancy. So we better have flexible plans and not book too many activities for a day when we travel either.
Csaba and me tend to be quite active during our travels. We got up early and went to bed late. We hiked a lot. We had long sightseeing days with 20-25 kilometres walking on average. (Csaba likes tracking the total distance we cover on a sightseeing day, and it’s an incredible number sometimes.) We are not those people who sit in a restaurant, eating and people watching for long hours.
Well, it changed a bit during my pregnancy. We had more sleep and shorter days. We hiked shorter distances on easier terrain. The point is that I enjoyed our travels. And when I started not to enjoy them, we made those days even shorter and more relaxing. We travelled to places that are close to our home.
Then we reached the point when I couldn’t enjoy travelling anywhere anymore. So we stopped. It’s this past month, the last one. Honestly, everything feels hard to me now, not just travelling. You don’t necessarily feel the same way, but if you do, there’s no point forcing it. You don’t want to make a burden out of something you love so much – at least, I don’t.
Which trimester is the best to travel?
They say that the first and third trimesters are the hardest, and the second one is the best and easiest. In the first trimester, women usually feel weak and nauseated. In the third one, their heavy bellies make everything harder. The sweet spot is the second trimester when most women tend to be more energetic.
But again, it doesn’t mean it’ll be the same for everyone. Also, there are lots of differences in how weak, nauseated or energetic you actually feel. Just listen to your body, and do what feels good – to you.
As for me, we travelled in each trimester. We only stopped travelling completely at the end of my third trimester. But I didn’t feel the same throughout my pregnancy. My first trimester was the most tiring, however, I didn’t have morning sickness. The second was fine, then the third one got harder, too. I didn’t feel that vital energy in my second trimester though. It was okay, but my energy was not near the same as before my pregnancy.
All we needed to do to make our travels enjoyable is adapting to the weaker one, which was me in this case. Well, us – me and our little boy. 🙂
Flying during pregnancy
Flying is usually safe for an uncomplicated pregnancy. There are some things to consider though.
In the later phase of your pregnancy, most airlines will ask for a letter from your doctor that confirms your due date, and also that you aren’t at risk of complications. This policy differs for each airline. Some ask this letter from week 28, some from week 30. Some require a letter written no more than 5 days ago. Some won’t allow a woman over 35 weeks to fly at all. Be sure to check this policy before you buy your ticket.
Another thing you need to be aware of is deep vein thrombosis. Long flights (or even long periods of sitting in the car or bus) increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis. It can happen with anyone, not just pregnant women, but pregnant women are at a somewhat higher risk. In order to decrease the chance of this, it’s recommended to walk regularly, do frequent leg exercises and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
It’s good to drink plenty of water during pregnancy, anyway. And no, not just to make your trip to the bathroom more frequent. 😛 Though it will be, so try to get an aisle seat if you can.
Hiking during pregnancy
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you may already know that we hike a lot. If you don’t, then pregnancy is not the best time to start. But if you do, there’s no reason to stop it. Unless there is a reason, of course. So be sure to discuss it with your doctor or midwife first.
Whether you’re pregnant or not, hiking offers lots of advantages. It improves your health and mood, it helps you to relieve stress. I enjoyed hiking during my pregnancy, as well. But again, it’s not the time to step outside of your comfort zone. We did shorter and less steep hikes than what we used to. We also avoided dangerous trails where one needs to balance on narrow paths. We took breaks more often. The rule is the same: listen to your body.
And the concrete tips? There’s a lot. So I actually decided to write another long post about hiking during pregnancy. It’s coming soon…
Activities to avoid
You can’t do anything – whether you’re pregnant or not. But when you are, you should always consider if an activity can cause harm to you or your baby. In general, all the activities that put you at risk of falling are not recommended – like snowboarding, skiing, horse riding, waterskiing, windsurfing or climbing.
While hiking is fine, hiking at high-altitude is different. At heights over 2000-3000 metres, the oxygen level in the air is lower. It means your baby gets less oxygen, too. Pregnant women are also more vulnerable to developing altitude sickness.
Most doctors also don’t recommend saunas or hot tubs, because raising your body temperature can harm your baby.
Just use your common sense. If you’re unsure, consult with your doctor.
Destinations to avoid
You should be more cautious where you travel. It’s best to avoid travelling to areas where vaccinations are required. In case you really need to, consult with your doctor which vaccinations are safe for you while you’re pregnant.
You should absolutely avoid travelling to areas where there is a risk of catching malaria, dengue or zika. There is no vaccine to prevent them, and getting infected during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects.
Get the appropriate travel insurance
Getting travel insurance is always recommended. However, not every insurance plan covers pregnancy. Even if it does, it won’t cover regular medical checks. I guess that’s fine in most cases, because you do those at home. But it should cover the unexpected complications.
It’s also important how far you’re in your pregnancy. Some policy covers from the first week, some only from the second trimester, some only until the third trimester. I know that reading insurance policies is probably the most boring thing in the world, but you need to check these details to make sure you’re truly covered. Then let’s hope you won’t need it.
Consider your sensitivity
Being pregnant makes you more sensitive. By this, I don’t only mean the fact that you can burst out crying because of, well, basically anything. It’s not just our soul, but also our body that gets more sensitive. We get tired easier. We get an infection easier. Our skin is more sensitive to the sun. Our sense of balance gets worse. It’s harder for us to stay focused. We are more vulnerable in general.
It doesn’t mean we can’t travel safely and enjoy it. It means we should take care of ourselves – as usual and even more, because we need to take care of someone else, as well. We are better getting used to it from now on, anyway. 🙂
Do you have any experience travelling when pregnant? What advice would you give?