Travelling While Pregnant: Do's & Don'ts

This is my favorite pregnancy pic. It says it all! This baby's definitely a traveler. We went to London, Scotland, New York, Vancouver, Banff, Lake Louise, the Athabasca Glacier, Jasper, and back to Toronto again... all just in the first trimester :) 

As for me, I realized that even the most seasoned traveler will find it's a whole different ball game when they're carrying more than just their luggage. Here are some things I learned, often in retrospect, over about five months of travelling with a baby on board.

- Your body doesn't belong to you any more. The same person who woke up at 5am in Rome couldn't be dragged awake at 9am when pregnant. For you, pregnancy may come with nausea, or fatigue, or any of a variety of unforgiving side effects. Factor the changes into all your decisions - what time you leave, how much you drive or walk, what time you start sight-seeing... and, of course, if it's even worth the effort of going. There's no shame in changing your plans. Speaking of which...

- Get travel insurance. The rate of miscarriage in the first trimester is cruelly high, and it's always better to be safe than sorry. I never had to use trip insurance, but you'll feel better knowing you have it. You can cancel a trip if you need to, or get medical help easily while travelling, without worrying about the bill.

- Pack smart. Like it or not, you ideally shouldn't be lifting weights. Find luggage that you can wheel everywhere. Put it under the seat in front of you, rather than in the overhead compartment, if you don't have someone to help you with it.

- Web check-ins are no longer optional. Do your best to get an aisle seat, or you'll be forcing someone else to get up multiple times while you use the restroom. You'll also have to get up to stretch your legs. Quite apart from all those scary stories about DVT, the fact is, your body just doesn't fit snugly into awkward plane seat angles in the same way as before. 

- Water, water everywhere. You're meant to drink at least 8 glasses of liquid a day while pregnant, very few of which actually stay in your body. Rest-room hunting can put a serious dampener on sightseeing. Look around and spot the nearest loo at all times. Carry change so you can use paid restrooms. Try to use the ones in restaurants when you stop for meals. On that same note...

- Plan your meals. A granola bar no longer counts as breakfast (note to my mom: I never passed this off as breakfast pre-pregnancy! Really!) and dinner can't be conviently skipped after loading up on junk. Not only are three full meals to be eaten, but it's also a good idea to have some snacks on hand.

- Cut yourself some slack. You just can't walk eight km a day like you used to. You want to sleep early. You want to sleep in. Your energy comes and goes. So figure out a list of things you absolutely don't want to miss, and make your peace with potentially sitting out the rest. Incidentally - also prime your company for this eventuality, or you'll be stuck with a grumpy companion who didn't plan to travel everywhere solo. (Major kudos to A for going canoeing alone. Especially when he can't even swim.)

- Plan around important test dates. A doctor can tell you exactly when, and if, you need to test for various things, depending on your history. From a fetal dating scan to stress-tests for gestational diabetes, these tests are often time sensitive. Make sure you have access to a clinic you trust when you need to take these. 

Most importantly - check with your doctor to see if you can travel, for how long, and by what means of transport. Each pregnancy is different, and I'm not the leading expert on anyone's except (possibly) my own.

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