It’s too bad babies aren’t eligible to collect air miles in the womb, because by the time my little frequent flyer was born, he’d racked up enough clicks for a flight anywhere his heart desired.
I didn’t plan on taking more than 20 trips during my pregnancy. And in case you’re wondering, I’m not a rock star who travels by private jet (though that would be nice). Between holidays that were already booked and last-minute work assignments, it just happened that way.
Like any first-time mom who reads too many week-by-week womb reports and plays the what-if game like it’s going out of style, I worried about my baby’s health and development every time I took off (despite clearing every trip with my doc).
Eventually, I put a stop to my neurotic baby-toting tendencies—stress wasn’t good for me or my “bun in the oven”—and instead decided to look to the legend of the stork and embrace traveling with child. Here are a few soothing strategies I picked up along the way.
Don’t shy away from a babymoon because you’re scared or you think being “with child” will make for a lame trip. You don’t have to sit on the sidelines for nine months and watch the world go by. True, pregnancy is not the best moment in time to indulge in Champagne and oysters at the Ritz Paris. But think about what you can do; for example, staying at the same iconic French hotel and indulging in croissants and cafe au lait instead.
Talk to your doc
Before taking off with your tike-in-training, soothe any hint of pregnancy travel woes by chatting with your doctor. He or she will tell you honestly—based on you and your baby’s health—if he or she thinks you’re “good to go.” I asked my doctor for his go-ahead and any advice for my stage of pregnancy before I left on every trip. With his blessing, I felt better prepared to fly.
Prior to departure, make a card to keep in your wallet noting your pregnancy in weeks along with any known risks, any known allergies, and your blood type. This will come in handy in the rare situation something happens and you (or a medical provider) need this information stat. Also, research the nearest hospitals to your destination hotels, and investigate whether they offer prenatal care.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests the best time to travel is between 18 to 24 weeks into your pregnancy because that timeframe marks the safest (and easiest) period to take flight. While the bulk of my big trips were in my second trimester, I did travel throughout most of my pregnancy (though at the end I curtailed my wanderlust and stuck to local exploratio)n. Once you talk to your doctor, see how you feel and then book a pre-baby trip.
Traveling in planes, trains, boats, automobiles, or tuk-tuks can sometimes trigger a surprise bodily response such as a sudden upset stomach. Don’t be alarmed. During pregnancy, your body is more sensitive to, well, everything—from moving objects to food. For example, I don’t normally get motion sickness on trains or when my plane is taxiing on the runway, but when I was pregnant I got temporarily ill in both situations.
Just say no to overpacking. Traveling alongside the stork is not the time to tote everything in your closet. Pack light to avoid schlepping a heavy load, and let other people help you lift your carry-on into the overhead bin and your suitcase off the baggage carousel.
Viewfinder Tip: No matter where your pre-stork travels take you, wear a pair of comfortable shoes that are easy to take on and off at security.
Traveling with a baby in your belly is not the time to bust a move. Allow yourself extra airport time, slow your vacation pace to a stroll, and choose calm over commotion. During pregnancy you tend to get tired more quickly than usual, and standing for long periods of time can be tough, so factor this abbreviated pace into your trip plan for maximum relaxation and enjoyment.
Depending on the trimester, your body may crave more than your average food and water intake. Knowing this, bring a water bottle (except through airport security) to keep you hydrated and healthy snacks to tide you over between meals. Immediate access to these items is not always readily available when you travel, so plan ahead.
Before booking a trip, educate yourself on how your medical insurance handles pregnancy and any related exclusions. Also investigate whether the airline you’re thinking of flying requires a doctor’s note or the like if you wish to travel after a certain number of weeks. I had to speak with five different people at my travel medical insurance company before I could get a straight answer on how it specifically dealt with pregnancy and foreign travel.
Most importantly: Listen to your body. If you’re tired, sleep. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re stressed, take a time-out. If you need to go, go. And if you’re raring to escape, travel—or, at least seek inspiration on the pages of this blog!
What are your baby-in-tow travel tips?