Pregnancy did not keep me from traveling wherever I wanted. My last trip while pregnant was to San Francisco around Labor Day. At 31 weeks pregnant, and 9 weeks away from my due date, my doctor said I was good to go for the flight, but the cutoff for air travel was generally 32 weeks for most healthy patients carrying one child.
The general rule of thumb is that the second trimester is the best trimester for traveling while pregnant. It’s the magical time between 14 weeks and 28 weeks pregnant that you feel the best— morning sickness has generally subsided, you get a rush of energy after your body adjusts to the hormonal changes going on inside, and your belly isn’t too big at that point to be uncomfortable, so your mobility is still pretty good.
During my second trimester, E and I took a babymoon to the south of Spain. We drove from Seville to Tarifa to Malaga to Gibraltar, and enjoyed plates of tapas, beach time, and walks around museums. I felt great throughout the entire trip—the only thing that plagued me was ravenous hunger. I was a regular at this little crepe place in old Tarifa every morning because I woke up every morning starving!
This summer, we took some weekend trips here and there to see friends by the beach. All were relaxing and none too strenuous, so long as we stopped for the restroom every two hours or so and had snacks in the car. Our glove compartment stays stocked with trail mix, Starbursts, fig bars and M&Ms.
After 28 weeks, it’s not impossible to travel, but it’s certainly different. Your belly is bigger, so you need more space when sitting. Your back hurts, so it’s hard to get comfortable in a plane or car seat. You’re still hungry and thirsty, so you need to stop and eat frequently. And, of course, you need to use the bathroom more frequently because you have a baby pushing on your uterus. For the SF trip, I had to endure a nearly 6 hour flight in economy (not even economy plus as I was flying leading up to a holiday weekend and there were NO SEATS!) while carrying 25 extra pounds. It wasn’t the most comfortable trip, but I made it.
No matter if flying or driving while traveling and pregnant, there were a few key things that kept me sane and happy. Here’s some survival tips about traveling while pregnant:
—BOOK AN AISLE SEAT: A must for flying, no matter if in business class or coach. You will have to get up and walk around every hour or so, not only to use the restroom, but to keep the circulation going in your legs. Pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of blood clots, and walking around helps reduce that risk.
—DRINK TONS OF WATER, BUT NOT ON THE PLANE: What I mean is, buy a liter of water in the terminal, and sip that during your flight. Water on planes is known to have higher levels of bacteria, according to some insiders. When the flight attendants come around with the beverage cart, order juice—but get it without the ice, as that’s probably made from the same recycled water.
—BUY FOOD AND SNACKS AHEAD OF TIME: There likely won’t be a filling enough—or tasty enough— meal on the plane, so plan ahead. I bought nuts, chips, bars and sandwiches on all of my flights, though when flying to SF I only ate half of my chicken sandwich (and threw the entire sandwich away on my way back. See, told you I’ve been weird about sandwiches during this pregnancy). But at least I had food—on my flight to SF, the stewardesses didn’t even offer me nuts! If you’re driving, always keep snacks in your glove compartment. Hunger inevitably strikes when you’re stuck in traffic and miles away from the next rest stop.
—WEAR COMPRESSION SOCKS: They’re good for the circulation. Also helps prevents blood clots.
—LET OTHER PEOPLE DRIVE WHEN POSSIBLE: I got lost so many times driving in San Francisco once I landed (that Waze app just doesn’t work, people. Google Maps works much better). The next day, I had someone else drive my car. It helped me have a stress free commute, plus my hands were now free to reach for snacks along the way.
—ASK FOR EXTRA PILLOWS FROM THE CONCIERGE FOR YOUR HOTEL ROOM: There are never enough pillows on the bed no matter where you’re staying, and when you’re pregnant, you need more pillows to prop between your knees and around your back and belly while you sleep. Ask the front desk to stock extra pillows in your room when you check in. You’ll need as restful a sleep as possible after a day of travel.by