Travel Easy - Traveling for Parents when Pregnant
Traveling in Pregnancy
Congratulations, you’re pregnant! Traveling while pregnant is definitely possible. Of course you’ll want to talk with your doctor and make your own decisions about travel based on your personal situation. But traveling while pregnant shouldn’t be a problem for most. Here are the questions and answers I had while traveling pregnant:
What do I do now? Where do I start?
Folic acid. This isn’t really just for travelers, but for moms-to-be in general. The folic acid helps to prevent neural tube defects as your baby’s spine and brain develop. Depending on the country you’re in you may be able to get free supplements or find them pretty cheap at drugstores/supermarkets/pharmacies.
As traveling parents-to-be you’ll have to decide which appointments are most important. It can vary from country to country on what they consider a necessary or routine checkup. You’ll likely want to get your first ultrasound scan around 8-10 weeks. The sonographer/doctor can check your baby’s progress and give you your estimated due date.
How do I make doctor appointments in other countries?
In many places around the world you can find English-speaking doctors. They are generally easier to find in larger cities. Do an online search for “English speaking doctor in [insert city]”. After finding a few doctors names, you can search for reviews about the doctors online. You can also search for expats in the area as many have online discussion boards or Facebook groups. Then you can email or call the doctor’s office to schedule an appointment. We’ve found that outside of the US, doctors are able to quote you an exact price so you can also know how much to budget for your visits. We made doctor appointments while traveling in Edinburgh, Brussels, Cape Town, and Bangkok. Check to see if your health insurance or travel insurance covers visits, and how payment works. When you go to your appointment, remember to get copies of any scans, tests, and results of your visit for your own records. The next doctor you see will want to see the paperwork you have from any previous visits to other doctors/medical professionals.
How do I travel with morning sickness?
Stay hydrated. Try to eat crackers or whatever your stomach can handle so it isn’t completely empty as an empty stomach can make you feel more nauseated. Do your best to avoid buses, boats, and other modes of transportation that cause motion sickness. If certain scents trigger nausea, carry an essential oil, lotion, or something with a scent that calms you. Personally, I was not able to eat any meat during my first trimester because it would cause morning sickness. Keep track of what you’re eating and see if anything may be the main trigger. If your morning sickness is severe, make sure to talk with your doctor about it so you can treat it accordingly.
I’m so tired. How can I walk/hike/explore?
Schedule more rest/relax days. While you might feel like you want to sleep all day or at least take constant naps, getting out and being active are important for staying healthy. You may need to take more breaks while walking or hiking especially when going uphill, but just take your time and go at your own pace. You also might want to take shorter excursions and try to plan out restroom breaks. We considered doing a 6-hour island excursion in Ireland, but decided against it when we found out there would be no restrooms available during those 6 hours. Most women find they have more energy during the second trimester, so consider planning any long hikes or adventures during that time.
What about safety? Do I need to change my travel plans?
Most places are going to be the same level of safety whether you’re pregnant or not. A couple of important things to consider are areas with Zika, and the food safety quality. Since I, Jenny, am a mosquito magnet, we made sure to stay away from areas known to have Zika and Malaria. There are pregnant ladies who live in those areas or even those who travel there, but we decided that for us the risk of harm to our developing baby was too high.
Foods considered risky to eat during pregnancy varies from country to country so you’ll have to decide how strictly you want to watch your diet. Generally you’ll want to make sure raw fruits and vegetables are washed thoroughly before eating and in some areas you may need to use bottled water to wash them instead of tap water. We took a tour during our babymoon in Egypt. While we were very cautious about the food and water safety, we took precautions and were able to have a wonderful time.
What to pack
If you find out you’re pregnant and already traveling, then you’ll probably need to get some things on the road. If you’re planning to travel when pregnant then you can prepare by getting things together before you leave. Here are some things to consider packing when pregnant:
prenatal vitamins/supplements - It’s recommended to take folic acid supplements through your first trimester. Your doctor may have you take a prenatal supplement throughout pregnancy that already includes folic acid. The prenatal vitamins I took also came with an omega-3 supplement, and towards the end of my third trimester I was also taking an additional iron supplement. Talk with your doctor about what would be best for you.
water bottle - It’s always important to stay hydrated, but you’ll likely need to drink even more water than you needed before becoming pregnant. Drinking plenty of water also helps to keep your amniotic fluid level up. You can get a collapsible one that is lightweight and easy to pack. There are even ones with filters so you can just fill up your water bottle with tap water instead of having to keep buying more plastic bottled water.
belly band/shield - You can use the band to wear your jeans or trousers a little longer as your belly expands. If you get a belly band from belly armor, it can also help to shield your belly from radiation.
maternity bras - Pregnancy causes various body changes and maternity/nursing bras can help give you more support and comfort. Get the ones with soft, stretchy material that can grow with you through pregnancy and when your milk comes in if you’re planning to breastfeed.
mints/mouthwash - morning sickness can happen at any time of the day so it’s best to be prepared. The travel-sized containers of mouthwash are small enough to throw in your purse, or put in your liquids bag for flights.
lotion/body butter - Even before you notice any belly growth, your skin may become dry and itchy as it prepares to stretch. Applying lotion/body butter will help keep your skin hydrated and less itchy. Stretch marks tend to be hereditary so you may not be able to prevent them by applying any lotions or creams. But hydrating your skin will help to keep the itchiness at bay.
When you’re traveling it can be hard enough to remember which day it is – how are you supposed to remember if you’ve taken your prenatal vitamin already or not? There are so many useful apps now to help you out during your pregnancy, and they don’t take up extra room in your luggage! Here are the ones I’ve tried:
Glow Nurture - I had already been using the Glow app to track my periods so it was easy to transition to this app once I became pregnant. You can enter your due date and it will give you weekly updates about the size of your baby as well as information to help you during pregnancy. You can set up reminders to take your prenatal vitamin, and it will send you notifications if you haven’t logged for the day. I like that it’s easy to log info like how much water you drank, how many hours of sleep you got, and your symptoms and moods. Plus, you can pick and choose which info you want to keep track of. There’s are also community boards where you can connect with other moms and moms-to-be. Your husband/partner can also download the app and you can share your info if you’d like.
What to Expect - This app has a lot of articles and information about pregnancy. You can keep a photo journal, create an amazon baby registry, and join a community. There’s also information about when to schedule your doctor appointments and what they entail. The app doesn’t keep track of you personally as much, but it’s a great resource of information for soon-to-be parents.
Pregnancy Checklist - I downloaded this app for the 3rd trimester checklist. It provides a checklist of all the things you need or might need to bring with you to the hospital when you’re ready to give birth. The app also has some information for the 1st and 2nd trimesters, but its strong point is the comprehensive packing checklist.
Fitbit - This isn’t really a pregnancy app but it is important to stay active and healthy during pregnancy. You don’t need a Fitbit to use the app although not all features will be available. Without a Fitbit, you can still track your steps and log your water and food intake. You can also manually enter your sleep hours. I have a Charge 2 so it updates that info automatically when I sync the device to the app and it’s been useful to keep track of my sleep quality and active minutes.
Baby Story - You’ll probably want to take photos of your baby bump while traveling, and this app has free stickers you can add to those photos. We also used the stickers in our pregnancy announcement. Some of the (cuter) stickers are only available for purchase, but many of the stickers are free if you watch a short video ad.