Travelling whilst pregnant
Most of you will have seen Tom and I recently came back from a trip to Canada. And yes I was 6 months pregnant on the trip. Many people expressed their concern before we went that I would struggle with the flights, the heat and even the trip in general. I am pleased to report I had no problems what so ever. In fact I did more pregnant than I would not pregnant on some occasions. Partly because I am stubborn and want to prove that I still can but also because its 2018 and women have been having babies for hundreds of years! I am pregnant not disabled so all it takes it’s a bit of due care and attention.
Firstly we were travelling to a 1st world country that was perfectly safe and I have extensive travel insurance with the full support of my Midwife and doctor who greatly encouraged the trip. I was also travelling in my 2nd trimester so was out of the tired and sick phase of pregnancy. They often call the 2nd trimester the blooming or glow period because you start to feel a lot better as you get your energy back. Although I didn’t have a particularly bad 1st trimester I certainly noticed a difference once I got past 14 weeks.
Sure I had to adapt a few things to make sure I was comfortable and that meant being a little selfish about some things but Tom was equally as supportive. I am someone who is pretty well travelled and Tom and I have been on plenty of long haul trips together now so know how each other travels (Tom can get a bit whingy – typical man!). I love to travel and I think it’s one of the most important things we can learn from and this trip felt more important because it probably will be our last long haul trip for a couple of years. Also how amazing that we can look back at the photos and know I was carrying our little one– starting them young!
There were of course some things I couldn’t do and I had to make sensible decisions. Not that I am adrenaline junkie by any means much to Toms annoyance! But mountain biking in Whistler probably not a wise thing for me to take on as it would mean hitting the slopes and risk of falling off which I think would be guaranteed with me! So Tom hit the slopes with our friends and Katie and I instead did a lovely walk round one of the lakes, meaning Tom still got to blow off steam and enjoy himself and I could take it a bit steadier. I also couldn’t drink obviously and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it! Holiday is normally my chance to let my hair down and I think nothing of having a bottle of wine a night, or a few margaritas at lunch. The doctor has said throughout if I fancy a glass of wine in my pregnancy I can have one, but best to avoid spirits. Typically I am not missing wine or prosecco because I think they would give me heartburn but I am missing tequila and vodka. It was a little strange not having a single margarita on holiday and there were a few warm days where I would have done anything for one! We did go Wine tasting at a vineyard in Kelowna though, where I tried a few wines and I bought myself a very nice bottle of red home as a push present to myself!
My main tips for travelling whilst pregnant, that I did and helped:
* Stay hydrated – I generally am someone who drinks a lot of water anyway but I basically aimed to double it each day on holiday and I averaged about 3-4 litres of water a day. Flights make you dehydrate very quickly so every time the drinks came round I asked for water (no fizzy drinks at all) and I took 2 litres of my own water with me as well. Whilst Tom sat smugly enjoying his beer, I took his water too and stayed hydrated. I am also convinced that staying hydrated on flights helps reduce jet lag, because I never seem to get it!
* Always know where the nearest toilet is. This is kind of obvious following on from the above point, but the more you drink the more you pee and you pee so much more when pregnant anyways. The first few days were an adjustment for me as when pregnant you go from needing
a pee to in agony in seconds, there’s no holding it like we used to. I got in the habit of every time I saw a toilet I used it, even if I had just been! Tom quickly understood my need to pee every 20-30 minutes and we got into a good routine of every time we got to a new place or off a train or bus we would find a toilet.
* Flights socks – not something I have used previously but was a recommendation from my midwife. Main tip is put them on before you get on the plane! I made the mistake on the flights out of trying to put them on once on board and with my bump and the limited leg room it was a recipe for disaster and amusement for Tom!
* Take snacks – biscuits, nuts and dried fruit were my go to mainly. There are numerous occasions when travelling particularly in airports, where you are waiting and queuing and pregnancy hunger is no joke. Take comfort in the fact no one judges a pregnant woman when she is snacking at 10pm!
* Take a spare pillow. I was worried about leaving my pregnancy pillow at home as it has been a life saver, but it was too clearly too big to take. So I decided to take a normal pillow with me as backup which meant at night I could put this between my legs which still encouraged me to sleep on my side and stopped the chub rub! It hardly added to my weight in luggage and meant I still got a decent night’s sleep.
* Rest when you need to. It seems obvious but listen to your body and take it easy, as much as we can carry on as normal and do most things, you are still carrying a baby round with you and that can make you out of breath sometimes, or hotter quicker. It might just mean when hiking with our friends I had to drop back a bit and take it at a slower pace a little or stop for a breather at the top of the hill but it’s important not to overdo it. If we had particularly active days then I made sure I relaxed and put my feet up in the evening.
* Wear sun cream even if it’s not boiling hot. Whilst pregnant your skin is more susceptible to the sun and you will tan/ burn quicker. I made sure I would put it on every morning and topped up when I was more exposed (like on the beach) it meant I didn’t burn once and came back with a lovely glow – my skin has never looked better!
* Don’t panic about baby movements. I’m no midwife or professional but I was at the point in my pregnancy where I could feel baby move and leading up to us going away I was feeling baby move more and more, but I did have a couple of times where I worried I hadn’t felt baby move for a few hours. However I managed to work out that when I was active, baby would sleep so I wouldn’t feel baby kick, but it sure made up for it in the evening when I sat and rested! The midwife had assured me that up to 32 weeks baby’s movements are still establishing a pattern anyway so as long as I was feeling baby move a few times a day I didn’t need to worry. Toms theory was that walking and exercising was rocking the baby to sleep so when I stopped it would wake up – may be rubbish but that’s certainly when baby did and didn’t kick. I even found towards the end of the holiday that baby’s kicks became much more definitive and prominent anyway.
I would be naïve not to acknowledge that I have had a very smooth pregnancy and have been lucky in my journey and I fully appreciate that not everyone has the same luck. They say you follow your mum’s pregnancy’s history and my mum had very good pregnancies. Or maybe the acupuncture is what really helped me through, I made sure to have one just before I went away and one as soon as I was back to keep my hormones all in line. But the truth is I have never felt better whilst pregnant! When we were trying to get pregnant there wasn’t a day when I didn’t think about the fact I wasn’t pregnant and my hormones were all over the place so my PCOS symptoms were bad. Pregnancy seems to have balanced everything out, my skin has never been better and for the first time in a few years I have relaxed and embraced this journey. Tom definitely helps the whole process because he is so laid back and doesn’t treat me any different. Think he was a little shocked on holiday when I cycled 9k one day – as he said I wouldn’t do that before I was pregnant let alone at 6 months!
In a nutshell our holiday was incredible, we made some wonderful memories and spent quality time with friends. I cannot recommend it enough – both Canada as a destination but also taking a holiday before your baby comes. It gives you the chance to have quality time with adults, have a break from routine and work and also from thinking about baby! It’s no lie that having a baby is a major adjustment and come the end of September our lives will change for ever and I am not someone who has shied away from the responsibility, so I was grateful for the break of thinking about breast pumps, pushchairs and baby names!
By no means was this post meant as a dig but more as a reassurance that pregnancy is not a disease and if we look after ourselves we can still carry on as normal. Obviously take full advice of your midwife and GP but don’t be afraid to try new things. Travel is good for the soul and who doesn’t love a holiday! Just pick sensible destinations (avoid Zika virus countries etc.) and be prepared.