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International Travel When You’re Pregnant

August 2, 2017

Lauren Wells is one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram, I’m constantly inspired by her images and just a little bit envious of her jet-set lifestyle. When I learned she was pregnant I was immediately intrigued by how she’d been doing all of her international travel and asked her to share a few tips about her experience thus far.

How has international travel been while pregnant? 

Overall, international travel has been wonderful and not so different from non-pregnant travel. But, there have been a few adjustments:

Itinerary: We have had to swap out a few plans for safer options. For instance, speedboats are not recommended while pregnant, or other activities like horseback riding, ATVing, etc. I also am pretty active, but can’t manage the same sort of hiking or exertion in extreme heat that I used to, so we definitely relaxed a bit more than on previous trips. 

Destinations: We have chosen to cancel a number of trips, for a number of different reasons. While we did not adjust any plans in the first trimester, our concerns about some places (be it the hospitals, the remoteness, how late in the pregnancy we were traveling, etc.) seemed to grow along with our little girl. As long as you feel comfortable, I say go for it, but you never want to go away just to worry while you are there. 

Food and drink: For one, always have food on hand. Always! On travel days, I would typically eat a sandwich or something else pretty basic, but cold cuts are not allowed, so I had to be a bit more creative in European airports where meat and bread is the norm. I love sushis and ceviches and tartares and just about every cheese, but had to pass on anything raw / non-pasteurized. This was easy in the more touristy spots, but proved pretty challenging in places like Puglia. And of course, no alcohol. Skipping the sangria in Spain was particularly difficult! But, you can still eat all the gelato and frites your belly desires, so it’s not too bad. ;)

Flying: It wasn’t until the middle of the second trimester that I started noticing a difference, but flying does get to be pretty uncomfortable. We always book economy, but if you have the budget for business or first, now would be the time to splurge. If not, I recommend wearing a loose dress and a very comfortable, wireless bra, and having a cozy blanket or sweater by your side in the hopes you are able to fall asleep. I wear sandals or slip ons to help with any swelling, and I make sure to get up and move around every hour. Some of the larger planes have more spacious areas in the back where you can stand and read for a bit without being in the way, and that has been a great spot to take advantage of.

What are your tips for other expectant mamas? 

Treat yourself: Sleep in. Order an extra stack of pancakes on the side. Let your husband carry your suitcase. And your tote bag. Embrace it all, because the entire 9 months is certainly not one long vacation.

Visit the spa: I had my first prenatal massage at 24 weeks on the island of Gozo, and it was heaven. Pure, ayurvedic bliss. I cannot recommend visiting a spa for a prenatal treatment enough.

Pack loads of snacks: With flight delays, limited options in smaller airports and being a bit hungrier than usual, always have something to eat in your bag.

Scope out the bathrooms: Pregnant or not-pregnant, I am the girl who needs to stop every hour to pee. I am however pretty low maintenance, and would choose the outdoors over a porta potty any day. If you are bit more – elegant – than I, you will definitely want to have coins on hand (especially in Europe), to use the public restrooms, and you may even want to map out a few beforehand.

Do as the French do: If appropriate, embrace that topless beach life. I don’t know about you, but my boobs are out of control, and being able to just let all three bumps bask in the sun and float in the sea – ahhhh. 

Book an aisle seat: No matter the price, it is worth it.

Any pregnancy essentials you suggest bringing?

Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a sunhat. Eyes and skin are so much more sensitive to light, so all of these will come in handy. I have never been so grateful for my sunglasses as I was in Greece – never took them off! I’d also recommend bringing Tylenol, or whatever safe pain medication your doctor recommends. Hopefully you won’t need it, but I did suffer a couple of debilitating hormonal migraines, and it was helpful not having to find a pharmacy in the middle of nowhere. Compression socks are another essential once you reach the end of your second trimester. Not sexy, but they help with circulation and swelling on long haul flights.

Safety precautions you should take?

Stay hydrated! This is so, so important, especially when flying and in hot temps. Always have water with you, and be sure you are drinking enough for you and the babe.

This may seem like an obvious, but avoid anywhere with Zika. I knew we were going to start trying for a baby this year, so I have been avoiding Zika destinations for quite some time – since the news broke pretty much. If you are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant, there are plenty of other beautiful places to visit that won’t cause you nearly as much stress or worry. And once your healthy baby is born, Tulum and Bali can be back on the list.

Always check with your doctor before traveling. We had a number of trips planned that we have since cancelled, such as Morocco and the Atacama desert in Chile. While our doctor is amazing and very laidback and did say it was ultimately up to us, she helped us understand how different the healthcare may be in some places (i.e. Morocco), and how altitude may have an effect in the third trimester (Chile). So it is always good to ask, and to then decide based on your own comfort level. They will also be able to advise on any vaccinations that are necessary (and maybe unsafe while pregnant), as well as any extra precautions you should be taking.

Images c/o Lauren Wells

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