When we went on our babymoon to Europe last month, I was between my 28th and 30th weeks of pregnancy. Of course, a lot of people had (negative) opinions about me traveling in my third trimester (especially out of the country), but luckily, none of those people were my midwife, who told me to go and have a great trip! Thankfully, I’ve had a super-low risk pregnancy, so she was not worried about us planning or going on this trip. However, I didn’t want to give the impression that taking a babymoon like the one we did was super easy at every moment, it turns out traveling during the third trimester has its own unique set of challenges!
I don’t want to give a set of advice like ‘hydrate, pack this, pack that, etc, etc…’ because honestly, I don’t follow advice very well and I just acted like this was a normal vacation and varied almost nothing about the way I did things. I think people can go a bit overboard with the whole ‘I’m pregnant and so I must prepare for everything and do nothing but rest and relax and be comfortable and blah blah blah’, but that’s just my opinion! For me, it was less stressful to plan the vacation (and enjoy the vacation) in the same ways that I would have if I wasn’t carrying a little creature inside of me.
But in the interest of transparency, I want to share a few challenges I faced while traveling in the third trimester.
Bumpy on the plane ride! Not huge but just big enough to make me uncomfortable.
Challenge 1: Packing. My belly grew every day on the trip and luckily I anticipated that and brought all loose fitting clothes! It was stressful to figure out what sizing I’d be ahead of time, because I was still wearing my ‘normal’ clothes and hadn’t stocked up on maternity gear yet. Maxi dresses and layers were my best friend! The thing I didn’t consider was that my heavier coat would no longer button mid-way through the trip – whoops!
Challenge 2: Sleeping on the plane ride. We took a red-eye flight from Chicago to Copenhagen to Warsaw and I assumed that I would be able to take Melatonin to go to sleep and then I’d just pass out for the entire trip. Right? WRONG. So, so wrong. I asked my midwife about Melatonin and she said I COULD take it but she’d prefer me to take Tylenol PM, since that’s been fully tested for pregnant women and they know it’s okay. I was glad I asked! Then, there’s the whole problem of getting comfortable on the flight. Bumpy made it impossible for me to lean to the side too much or curl up in any sort of comfortable position, which usually I have no trouble with since I’m so short (5’2″). Basically, it was impossible for me to sleep for longer than a few minutes at a time.
Challenge 3: Legs swelling (on the plane). My midwife suggested I wear compression socks to help with this. And to drink water. And to walk up and down the aisles every few hours. Unfortunately, I am awful at following directions. I did wear the compression socks, but the problem was that I wore them with my leggings and I think my legs were over compressed! I did get up and walk but only every 2-3 hours because I was trying to sleep. And staying hydrated is ALWAYS a problem for me. Basically, my legs felt fine until I tried to stand up after the plane ride and then I was like ‘uh oh!’ I just elevated my legs for a while and they were perfectly fine afterwards, but there is a risk of blood clotting on airplanes, so I’d advise you to take all the precautions you can!
Challenge 4: Tiredness. I actually didn’t have any fatigue in the super-early weeks of the third trimester, so I wasn’t taking naps or falling asleep super early during our trip, but my body did get more tired than usual! Granted, we spent all day every day walking around, so that’s understandable. My legs simply got a little worn out from carrying the 15 extra pounds, which was a great excuse for us to take a cafe break to eat some goodies! I definitely wasn’t complaining about that part. Just be ready to go at a slower pace than you normally would if you’re planning a walking intensive trip while (almost seven months) pregnant.
Not only did Bumpy take an overnight plane ride, but also an overnight train ride! It was much easier to sleep on the train (in our sleeping car).
Challenge 5: Eating. Not that it was challenging to actually eat, it was just more challenging to remember that I couldn’t eat absolutely everything on the menu, as I normally would. In the States, I assume all cheese is pasteurized and I eat pretty much whatever I want, my midwives didn’t give me many (if any) restrictions at all. However, in another country, a few extra precautions had to be taken. Basically, I just didn’t eat any sushi or any soft cheeses, and I only drank the tap water when I knew it was safe, just in case. When I traveled to Argentina super early in my pregnancy, I ate the cheese because they pasteurize (almost) all cheeses there. I would advise any pregnant woman to just do her research ahead of time and do what makes her feel the most comfortable!
Challenge 6: New pregnancy symptoms. The scariest part of our trip was when I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions in Poland. I definitely wasn’t expecting that! After a few (frantic) Google searches, I figured out that the contractions were just Braxton Hicks and that I was probably experiencing them from so much movement and dehydration. After a stop at a lovely cafe, I was good to go! I drank some hot chocolate and water, went to the bathroom (emptying your bladder helps Braxton Hicks) and put my feet up for about an hour. I won’t lie, I was a bit freaked out being so far away from home and experiencing something new with the pregnancy, but it all turned out fine, as most pregnancy symptoms do!
My favorite travel buddy!
Basically, aside from these few challenges, traveling while pregnant was about the same as traveling before I was pregnant. We had to make a few adjustments, but I was able to do everything I wanted to do and was only faced with mild discomfort. I hope this encourages other moms-to-be (and dads-to-be!) to take a more ‘active’ babymoon if that’s what you want to do, because it can definitely be done and enjoyed! Traveling to another country is not necessarily something to be nervous about and long plane rides aren’t necessarily the most comfortable, but they are definitely worth it.
This trip was (without a question) easier in the third trimester of pregnancy than it would have been with a newborn/baby/toddler/any-kid-at-all, and I’m so glad we had the chance to enjoy it!
Of course, if you’re thinking of planning a babymoon and want some additional advice (or reassurance), let me know!