A bump without boundaries – travelling whilst pregnant

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Holidays! I love em… was that about to change because of pregnancy? Nope. I’m sure it could even be said that I turned into a ‘baby-moon addict’ whilst pregnant. So here’s an insight into where I went, what I learnt and my top-tips for flying and travelling whilst pregnant.

Where can you go?

Trying to book a holiday whilst pregnant can feel like whizzing through a minefield. Can’t go here because of abc, can’t go there because of xyz. Everyone offering their advice – ‘Oh, I’m not sure you should go there, have you thought of ….’ Arrgh! You research every destination to within an inch of its life – even places you’ve been a thousand times before without any bother whatsoever and decide if you go there ever again you’ll never make it home in one piece.

However, in reality, the important considerations include: your
own health, any morning sickness, vaccinations and malaria. With the correct (rational) research and discussions with a medical professional and your insurance provider, you can go quite literally anywhere. Read – but don’t over read. I drove to Belgium during my first trimester; flew to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Portugal in my second trimester; finishing with Greece in my third trimester. All went well and I wouldn’t change a thing – as long as your comfortable with your decision go ahead and enjoy!

A useful website for hints and tips for travelling in pregnancy is the NHS: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/927.aspx?CategoryID=54 and http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/general-travel-health-advice/pregnant-travellers.aspx

Getting on board

Travelling in the first trimester is a personal choice, a decision only you can make based on your levels of health/sickness and risk of miscarriage. Always check with your travel insurance provider and a medical professional that you’re safe to fly. In general the following rules usually apply when flying: if your fit and healthy most airlines will let you travel up to 34 weeks long haul and 36 weeks short-haul (32 weeks if your pregnant with twins). Be aware that travelling after 28 weeks requires a ‘fit to fly‘ letter to be completed by your doctor.

What to wear

Comfort wins every time! Sitting for long periods in a small confined space isn’t nice at the best of times – let alone when your belly is growing – restrictive clothing and uncomfortable shoes will only make matters worse. If I thought I could have got away with pyjama’s I would have – but a good pair of maternity jogging bottoms are the next best thing.

Pregnancy flying is also no place for the fashion conscious – flight socks are a must! I wrestled mine on every time for that little added piece of mind, as well as to help prevent the horrendous ‘cankle’ effect.

Getting through the flight

‘Excuse me,’ might end up being your most common phrase during the flight, especially of you haven’t been given an exit or aisle seat (if possible always ask for these); but you need to get up and walk around regularly. Along with the attractive flight socks, movement helps reduce the risk of a DVT, which is slightly higher for pregnant women. So go ahead and be a pain – block the aisles, go to the toilet 500 times and wake everyone up – it’s for the good of you and your baby.

Staying hydrated is also vital – a top tip I was given, was to take an empty water bottle onto the flight. Once on board (or even through security) you can ask a members of staff to fill it up with water for you – I’m sure they’d rather do that than keep refilling their tiny plastic cups every 5 seconds.

Any extra packing?

As long as you check pretty near to the time of your flight that the clothes you’ve packed still actually fit, you should be okay to pack away as you normally would. But here’s a few extra’s to think about including: your maternity notes (remember they should be going everywhere with you!); your flight socks, ‘fit to fly’ letter and a water bottle – as discussed; pregnancy safe mosquito repellent (if required); and a range of flip-flops (if you’re anything like me, your feet will swell in the heat and none of your other shoes will fit!)

Activities on holiday

It can be tempting to plonk yourself next to the pool and not move for the next week or so – which is perfect if that’s what you want to do! But equally, you don’t have to. It is possible to go out and about wherever you are – as long as you know your own limits, are prepared (like a girl scout) and take the right precautions.

Most of my relatives listened in dismay when I told them (on my return) that I’d been on the back of a moped (with my husband driving) for a day tour around Vietnam at 17 weeks pregnant. ‘You must be mad,’ was the most popular thought – but he’s a confident driver (and I trust his driving ability), we wore all the protective clothing possible and we hired a guide for the day – who we explicitly told I was pregnant – to take us away from the busy, traffic dense roads. It turned out to be one of the best days of the holiday, so don’t be afraid to get out there and safely explore!

Remember that your next holiday you go on could very well have an extra little person tagging along – bringing on a whole new range of ‘Arrgh’ moments with them – so make the most of all the baby-moons you can get!Version 2

(Disclosure – this is all my own personal opinions, based on my experiences – please follow any advice given to you by medical professionals and/or your own travel insurance)

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