Thinking of taking a trip before your little one enters and forever changes your world? Pregnancy is a beautiful time to focus on your health, wellbeing, and happiness and what better way to do this than by taking a holiday abroad? Modern medical and wellbeing professionals encourage pregnant women to focus on keeping relaxed and balancing your “inner Zen” when it comes to growing a healthy baby.
While your holiday will be one of relaxation and wellbeing, you do need to ensure your comfort and health are top priorities when planning your trip. Finding the time to adequately plan for a holiday might be challenging when there is already so much organisation for bub’s arrival. However, you want to avoid becoming exhausted, uncomfortable, or unwell whilst travelling.
Let me help you by taking out the hard work involved in planning a safe and enjoyable holiday abroad. In this article I provide you with the seven top tips to keeping safe while travelling abroad. This will give you more time to focus on the fun stuff and make your journey as pleasurable (and safe!) as possible.
4 Choose Your Destination Abroad Carefully
First things first – you need to choose your ideal holiday location. Preferably, you want to try to select somewhere that doesn’t involve huge amounts of travel, is safe, and requires minimal vaccinations. Long flights, or ones with lengthy stop overs, can be very uncomfortable during pregnancy. Good destinations closer to home are definitely advantageous. It will also help if your trip does not involve a long transfer from the airport.
Consider available facilities and the ease associated with your chosen location. It is much easier while pregnant to enjoy your holiday when there are good medical facilities and shops close by. Make sure your preferred location can cater for all your medical needs, food requirements, and little comforts. It will help if you research options online before you choose a location, to make sure all your needs will be catered for on your holiday.
Then when you arrive at your destination, you will know exactly where to go for any medical assistance or creature comforts!
2. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is a must. Forward thinking will make your trip much easier and enjoyable on your time away. Research vaccinations required, consult with your doctor, consider the best mode of travel, have a look at available activity options, and make a list of all the things you need to pack. Yes, there is a lot to plan ahead for!
At all times consult with your doctor before planning a trip. There are periods in which you will not be able to travel (especially after 36 weeks), and there could be medical recommendations you may not be aware of in relation to your trip. Seek medical advice on which vaccinations are safe for you while you're pregnant. Further, women with complicated or higher-risk pregnancies may be advised to take specific precautions or to avoid traveling altogether.
You also need to evaluate the best time to travel during the course of your pregnancy. When possible, it's best to schedule your trip in second trimester. This is most likely the period in which morning sickness symptoms will have subsided, and you will have the most energy. Try to avoid traveling altogether after 36 weeks of pregnancy.
Finally, consider that the airline you plan to travel with may have a pregnant flyer policy.
The last thing you want to do is book flights in the later stages of your pregnancy, only to find out that the airline won’t allow you to fly in accordance with their policies.
When planning, allow plenty of time for travel on your trip. Give yourself extra time for delays, rests and toilet stops. Remember, you may be experiencing nausea, fatigue, or aches and pains associated with your pregnancy and may not be as mobile and agile as you were pre-pregnancy. Don’t push yourself with unrealistic time frames.
3. Pack for Your Pregnancy
You need to think a little differently than previous trips before you were pregnant, as your situation and needs are now vastly different. Pack in a sensible way to match your pregnant status. Being comfortable is your number one requirement when packing. Be careful when packing shoes, clothes, accessories, and luggage and keep in mind your ever growing bump.
When packing clothes, you need to be mindful of the climate and length of your trip. If you are travelling to a tropical climate, ensure you pack clothes to help you stay cool, such as light fabrics.
If you are going to be away for any length of time, pack clothes that that can accommodate for your growing belly.
Think comfortable shoes. Perhaps it’s not the best time to be packing those sexy pink heels?
Flat shoes are a must, with potentially swollen feet and ankles from fluid retention during pregnancy. Don’t forget your trainers to keep you active, and to keep you comfortable when walking long distances.
Packing smart can save you headaches when you arrive at your destination
Pack a copy of your medical information, including prenatal records. This is where the saying “better to be safe than sorry” rings true. Of course you don’t expect any bumps in the road; however you can never be too cautious when it comes to safety in a foreign country. This is even more prominent when pregnant. Also, when planning your trip familiarize yourself with the nearest hospital and their contact/location details.
Take a copy of your health insurance (and if you don’t yet have any, it is recommended to purchase this prior to leaving), to avoid expensive medical expenses and costs. You may additionally want to take out a travel insurance policy to further protect yourself from medical expenses while abroad.
3 Choose Enjoyable, Yet Safe, Activities
There are lots of fun activities you can enjoy on your trip abroad when pregnant. Remember, relaxation is key. Holidaying when pregnant is the perfect time to kick back into a slower pace and enjoy a more leisurely holiday.
Even though you are toning it down a notch, you can still enjoy a range of activities on your holiday. You may even want to give some new activities a go! Activities to add to the bucket list include massages, yoga, swimming, and walking. Why not hit up a day spa and really pamper yourself?
You may want to base your activities on taking advantage of doing things that you may not be able to once bub has arrived. This is a great time to invest in some good quality “me” time. Enjoy your freedom; soak up the peace and serenity of your chosen location. Stretch out in the sun by the pool or at the beach and pop your headphones in with your favourite tunes. Head out the countryside for some sightseeing and immerse yourself in your surroundings.
Know your limits and don't push them
It's also extremely important to be aware of the activities that are advised against due to carrying an increased risk to your unborn baby. According to Better Health (2014), “The following sporting activities to be avoided include:
- Water-skiing – coming off the skis could force water into the vagina.
- Scuba diving – the changes in blood gases may harm your baby. Snorkelling is fine and scuba diving to depths of less than 18 metres (60 feet) is reasonably safe, but check with your doctor first.
- Saunas and hot tubs – raising your body temperature can harm your baby.
- Horseback riding – the motion of horseback riding carries a risk of placental abruption (separating the placenta from the uterus). Falling from or being kicked by a horse carries a high risk of trauma to your baby, or even death.
- High-altitude activities such as mountain climbing – at heights over 3,000 metres, the oxygen level in the air is low. This reduces the oxygen available to your baby. Pregnant women are also more vulnerable to developing altitude sickness.”
2 Focus on Good Nutrition
Looking after your health via good nutrition and hydration is critical throughout your pregnancy and this is even more important when overseas. This can be difficult when travelling to and from destination, particularly on long flights. Ensure you pack a variety of healthy snacks in your hand luggage (including dried fruit and nuts, whole grain bars, and fresh fruit if the flight permits).
Keep hydrated, particularly when flying or en route, with a bottle of water on hand. In accordance with the American Pregnancy Association’s guidelines, pregnant women should consume between 8 and 12 glasses of water daily. Amongst other health benefits, this ensures that the amniotic fluid is maintained and breast milk production is on track. Where possible, drink extra fluids and avoid caffeine and sugary drinks.
Eat regular, balanced meals and do not skip meals or this will leave you feeling fatigued. Maintain regular nutrition-packed meals while at your destination, as this is important for optimal health of you and your growing bub. If needed, take additional vitamin and mineral supplements (however, consult your health professional before doing so).
6. Relax and Replenish Your Energy
Pregnancy provides the perfect reason to switch into cruise control and hit the relaxation mode. Previous holidays may have centred on fitting in as much as possible, such as adventure activities, sightseeing, and wining and dining. Now that you're pregnant and abroad, you can maximise the opportunity to take a break, rest up, and recharge. Having lots of rest will ensure you feel good and this means you can capitalize on enjoying your holiday in complete relaxation.
Wherever possible, take regular breaks. Being pregnant comes with a whole array of symptoms that can leave you feeling tired, worn out, and physically strained.Your holiday is a great time to recoup and to catch up on some rest (yep, this means regular nanna naps, as often as you like!). Don’t give yourself a hard time for resting as it will benefit both you and growing bub. It will also replenish your energy to enjoy your holiday activities instead of feeling tired and exhausted.
Taking breaks means you'll be better able to participate in activities
If you can, plan your rest breaks for every 2-3 hours each day. Choose therapeutic environments for your rests which invoke a real feeling of relaxation. Put your feet up, immerse yourself in the atmosphere, and let the recharging begin! Enjoy your rest time and make it a priority.
Putting your feet up is not only a luxury while travelling pregnant, it is also a necessity. Sitting for long periods can cause swelling in your feet and ankles, causing cramps. Ensure that you keep your blood circulating by performing stretches and regularly moving about. Pregnancy (and flying while pregnant) puts you at risk of developing blood clots (thrombosis) and varicose veins. Ensure you take breaks, stretch, and put your feet up!
1 Reduce Stress
The last thing you want to do when abroad is create unwanted stress for yourself. Implement some simple planning into your daily activities to prevent stress and anxiety. Where possible, avoid delayed transport (especially flights) and long queues. Have a back-up plan in case there are delays, and allow extra time to get to and from places.
When faced with a stressful situation on holiday, have some good de-stress techniques ready in your bag of tricks. In the event of a delay, try to limit your stress by remaining calm and engage in a relaxing activity such as reading or listening to music. If you encounter a rude person en route, try to take a step back from the situation and distance yourself from any negative impact they may have on your mood and affect.
Humour is always a great safeguard to protect you against the unwanted impact of stress. Remember, this holiday is all about YOU – so stay calm relaxed, rested, and recharged.