The Mama Diaries: My Tips for Travelling While Pregnant
I think one of my most asked questions in pregnancy, aside from that fun gender guessing game, was about flying and how I coped with it. Because I had a few press trip commitments, and we had planned a holiday over Christmas -- I flew a LOT in pregnancy. Not to the level of some travel-loving mama's but a lot more than the average. I flew both long and short haul and I did it in every single trimester too. And when I searched for info on how to cope at each stage (particularly the last) I couldn't find anything useful. So I knew I wanted to write something about my experiences. I just thought I'd take a little less than six-months to do so!
Any kind of travel over five hours carries a small risk of blood clots (DVT) but it is very rare, so I wouldn't worry too much. Either way, your first step should be to go straight to your GP because depending on what time you travel you'll need to take a letter (it's so infantilising......) to say you are safe to fly. Your GP will also check your blood pressure etc etc to make sure they're happy for you to fly.
Aside from that, each trimester carries a different issue to contend with. But I want to reiterate that it is your pregnancy is healthy and you don't have any added issues to deal with (hyperemesis, for example) there's really no drama. But it's good to know what you're letting yourself into and plan accordingly right?
The NHS also recommend you carry your maternity notes with you and check the hospital facilities at your destination.
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Flying in your first trimester
I had two work trips in my first trimester, and if you've ever been on a work trip you'll know you don't get much downtime. Press trips are super hectic, and those first few weeks of pregnancy are knackering. Absolutely knackering!
I struggled with nausea at first, and coupled with my notorious car sickness I had a real drama holding my (delicious) food down.
Although the baby isn't pushing down on your bladder yet, and you may not be feeling kicks -- you'll potentially be weeing more than normal, with the added stress of being early on in pregnancy, and at a higher risk of miscarriage. That weighed on my mind and I definitely felt more protective of my growing bump.
Take as many naps as you can, whenever/wherever you can!
Bring your own snacks. I was obsessed with apples, salty crackers/crisps and not much else. I certainly didn't wanna rely on plane food....
Take it easy. The first trimester can be pretty tough and if I had my time again I'd probably avoid travelling at all!
Flying in your second trimester
I LOVED this trimester. My bump was cute and obvious, but I wasn't so big I found it difficult to get around. I had stacks of energy but everyone was offering to help me (unlike the first when I felt crap but nobody knew) so I felt like a princess.
I'd say it was my spirit trimester ;)
Before I fell pregnant, we'd planned a beach getaway to Sri Lanka, or India or maybe back to Thailand over Christmas. But when we started to think about booking flights, in my first trimester I felt so hideous I thought I would have the worst time travelling long-haul. So we went to Paris instead.
ERROR. I actually felt amazing, but having to avoid soft cheese and wine while in Paris was, ahem, interesting. It was fun, of course, but next time around I would definitely plan to do most of my travels in the second trimester instead.
Travel often and travel far! This is the best time to fly so enjoy it.
Get an aisle seat, because the baby will be more active and you'll need a wee more often.
Enjoy the extra attention you get and take every opportunity to chill out, have massages and generally be pampered.
Flying in your third trimester
Conversely to my first trimester, where I underestimated my energy levels and changed my second trimester travel plans, I hugely overestimated myself and booked a two-week safari holiday to South Africa. Flying in my third trimester.
I was due to fly the very last week I was allowed to (airlines don't like you to fly beyond 29/30 weeks internationally and most require a doctors note).
As the trip approached, I became more and more apprehensive. I'd grown HUGE and while I still felt well, I was pretty tired and ready to slow down. So a 10-hour flight to Africa, followed by a 6-hour drive to Kruger National Park was, erm, interesting.
I can say, with no exaggeration that the flight was horrendous. I was uncomfortable, the food was RANK (the most revolting plane food I've ever eaten) and I was convinced I'd get DVT. I was simultaneously dehydrated and desperate for a wee, and I honestly couldn't understand why I'd decided to do something so utterly ridiculous.
The holiday was amazing though, so all was forgiven ;)
Don't do it.
No, seriously. Don't do it.
So! There you have it. My guide to travelling in every single trimester. Have you travelled while pregnant?