For those of you who haven’t noticed, I’m pregnant. While I was jet-setting around Canada in the final days of my first pregnancy (I still thank my lucky stars that April wasn’t born on a film shoot in the snow in the forest near Edmonton), this time round I’m at home in Montreal, working hard to enjoy all of the things Montreal has to offer, while walking at a snail’s pace, and seeking out air conditioning whenever possible.
I have decided to be reasonable and stick close to home for this final period of my third trimester, but in early pregnancy (especially if it’s your first) there’s no reason why you should let a little morning sickness stop you from having great adventures. I have a friend who went on a three-month bike trip in her first trimester. She may have tired more easily than usual, but was too busy pedalling to think about being sick.
I was 12 weeks pregnant when we went to Cuba this year, and magically, the sunshine and fresh air eliminated my nausea. (Or perhaps it was the constant eating.) However you feel during your pregnancy, there’s a good chance that going away, just getting out of your element for a little while, will do you good. Even if you feel rotten the whole time you’re away, at least you’re feeling rotten somewhere else, and not just being miserable at home.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when travelling while pregnant:
1) Know where your food is coming from (and keep snacks with you!)
There is a lot of scary information out there about what women should and should not eat during pregnancy. While I was pretty strict during my first pregnancy — avoiding sushi, oysters, unpasteurized cheeses — the second time around I came across this wonderful New York Times article, which helped me feel much more balanced in my approach to food. Do you think that women in Japan stop eating sushi when they’re pregnant? Would a french woman avoid wine and cheese? It’s a question of trusting where your food is coming from — and if that means only travelling to places where you know for sure that the water is clean and food hygienically prepared, it still doesn’t cut you off from the whole world. Also, it’s worth the extra effort to always have snacks on hand, so keep an apple or a bag of almonds in your purse to help you make it through.
2) Move around
According to Michele Hakakha, obstetrician and co-author of Expecting 411, one of the greatest dangers of travel is the possibility of developing a blood clot from sitting for long periods of time. The easy remedy? Get up and walk every hour or so. If you’re driving, pull over and take a break at a rest stop. You’ll probably have to pee anyhow.
3) Make sure your insurance covers pregnancy
Buying travel insurance is one of those necessary parts of taking a trip. While four times out of five you probably won’t need it, on that fifth occasion, you’ll thank your lucky stars that you bought coverage. Before buying insurance while pregnant, however, you need to make sure that your policy covers pregnancy-related illnesses, and will pay your expenses in case you have to cancel all or part of your trip.
4) Find out your airline’s policies (and check with your midwife or doctor)
If you’re travelling in the third trimester, first make sure that your doctor or midwife thinks it’s wise for you to travel. Then, look into the policy of the airline you’re planning on flying with. Many airlines allow women to travel up to 36 weeks pregnant. Having had my first baby at 34 weeks, however, I think I’ll stick closer to home this time. Do what feels right. You’re often at your best during the second trimester, so this is probably the ideal time to take a trip.
5) Take along your medical records
You never know what could happen, so if you’re going away in the second or third trimester, it’s worth taking along copies of your prenatal chart as well as the phone numbers of your midwife or doctor. Also, if you still have tests to be done, make sure that you schedule these before or after your holiday. If it’s going to be an extended vacation, look for a doctor or midwife in the area who you can see if anything goes wrong, or if you have questions.
Being pregnant can be rough, and the reason you’re taking a trip in the first place is to get out of your element and enjoy yourself. Go somewhere you feel comfortable and slow down! You don’t have to visit five museums in a day or ten cities in two weeks. Chill out, take a deep breath, and just have a good time doing as little as possible. In a few months, you’re not going to be able to lie in the sunshine reading a book for more than a few minutes, so take advantage of it now.