Because the sun has been shining lately – naturally that got me thinking about holidays and because I’m constantly thinking about all things pregnancy related that got me thinking about ‘babymoons’.
When I was five months pregnant with our first child my husband and I decided we needed one last holiday before two became three and lazing on a beach listening to our iPods and absorbing ourselves in a good book would be a thing we reminisced about.
So we packed our bags and off we went. Ten idyllic days in Cuba just the two of us and the perfect opportunity for us to have some quality time together. To reconnect and above all else – relax.
However; if I told you that it was a blissful stress free and entirely relaxing ten days I’d be lying.
I couldn’t enjoy my favourite mojitos, nor stay out in the sun for too long and I was so unbelievably shattered by 9pm all I could think about was hitting the sack – and not in the good way.
All this whilst my husband sampled the local rum.
I thought I could do it all and we even booked an afternoon snorkelling which was incredible until it was time to get back on the boat and the skipper wouldn’t let me climb out like everybody else but insisted that I be lifted out backwards so as not to hurt my baby should I slip. Which give him his dues was incredibly thoughtful and to be honest a safety aspect I hadn’t factored into the equation when we booked the trip.
Now the fun really starts – there was only one skipper manning the boat so he hollered to his mate on a neighboring boat to lend a hand. They had me turn my back to the boat as they each held me under the arms and hoisted me out. Never in my life have I felt less dignified and more like a giant whale than I did that day.
All this whilst my husband sampled the local rum.
I also spent an entire day on a sun-lounger with my legs wrapped in vinegar soaked tissue after my husband picked a fight with a jellyfish and I ran out of the sea screaming like a deranged banshee with my legs on fire, well figuratively anyway.
All this while my husband sampled the local rum.
It wasn’t all bad though; we managed to secure an incredible upgrade after I contacted the hotel prior to our arrival to mention that I was a) pregnant and b) could we please have a room that wasn’t directly next to the bar so I could get a decent night sleep. A little bit cheeky I know; but my plan worked. The Cubans love a pregnant lady.
Second time round we managed a camping holiday in the U.K. as we thought this would be a safe bet. We also had a very energetic three-year old to contend with. It poured with rain as inevitably it was bound to do because camping in England normally leads to rain and for anyone that’s slept on an air bed at six months pregnant will tell you – it was not comfortable. Also waking in the night to squat outside the tent because I was too much of a wimp to walk to the toilet in the dark was not one of my finest moments.
So factoring all this into account brings me onto the more important aspects of travel during pregnancy and the things that need to be considered before jetting off. Locations to consider, areas off-limits, flying restrictions and health and safety precautions for the expectant mum.
Air Travel: If you’re carrying one baby and have had an uncomplicated pregnancy then the guidelines state that its safe to travel up to 36 weeks; although most airlines prefer you to fly before 28 weeks because of the risk of premature labour.
The safest time to travel is in your second trimester which is between 18-24 weeks when your risk of miscarriage and pre-term labour is at its lowest. It’s also the trimester where women tend to feel at their best and gain some of the energy back that they lacked in the first trimester, although this isn’t always the case.
It’s also best to minimize the length of travel time as well; try to factor in any stopovers or the distance from the airport to your final destination as sitting in a car for five hours sweating and needing to stop for a pee every thirty minutes is not going to help you relax. The national highway also advises to wear your seatbelt low – wear the shoulder section over the collarbone and the lower section under your belly as low as possible.
If you’re traveling by airplane its important to be aware of deep vein thrombosis. A blood clot that forms in your legs or pelvis. When you are pregnant and for up to six weeks after the birth you have a higher risk of developing this than a non pregnant woman. Speak to your midwife or doctor about wearing graduated elastic compression stockings – wear these on the plane and remember to walk about if it is safe to do so and keep your legs moving as much as possible. At least once every thirty minutes circle your feet for a good couple of minutes and try to do in-seat exercises. Wear comfortable loose-fitting clothes and keep as hydrated as possible.
Things to pack: sunscreen and a big hat are two absolute essential items that belong in any pregnant women’s luggage particularly if travelling to warmer climates. By all means spending an afternoon in the sun is a great way to relax; just try not to let your body get too hot and ensure you protect your skin with a high factor sunscreen. I know from past experience that I burnt very easily with both pregnancies as your skin tends to be more sensitive. During pregnancy you have higher levels of a hormone that makes your skin react to the sun by going darker.
Melancocyte Stimulating Hormone can cause random dark patches to appear on your face or for a line to appear down the middle of your belly called the linea nigar. It’s also recommended to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day; so instead head to the nearest restaurant for lunch and to hydrate.
Check Restrictions – The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes and for most people it isn’t harmful and is just a mild infection. However for pregnant women it’s a more serious issue to take into account before deciding on your destination of travel as there is evidence that it can cause birth defects. Zika outbreaks have been reported in the Pacific region, and the virus has now spread to South and Central America, the Caribbean and South East Asia.
Because the use of vaccines may not be safe during pregnancy its’ probably advisable to avoid travelling to destinations that pose a high risk. Please talk to your doctor or midwife though if you need further advice.
Pregnancy travel insurance is similar to the standard holiday insurance in that it covers medical, public liability, lost luggage and cancellation, just make sure you check the small print and discuss any additional extras you may want to add before you hit the purchase button and ensure you take your full set of pregnancy notes with you at all times.
So to summarise:
- Air Travel – length, stopovers etc – plan ahead
- Restrictions – check the foreign travel advice site at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
- Health and safety – sunscreen, sun hat, stay hydrated at all times and carry a bottle of water with you at all times. Don’t drink tap water if you can help it and avoid ice in your drinks as this is often made using tap water. Avoid high risk activities such as scuba diving and stay away from saunas, steam rooms and jacuzzi’s as over heating can be dangerous during pregnancy.
- Enjoy the local food but remember to take precautions and use common sense at all times. It’s so easy to forget ourselves when we’re on holiday and easy to take unnecessary risks we wouldn’t consider when we’re at home.
Most importantly though; remember to relax, have fun, reconnect and don’t forget your camera to capture the memories whilst it’s still just the two of you.
Any ladies expecting, let us know what your holiday plans are?
Happy and Safe Travels everyone x