I purchased our tickets to Europe back in December, still early-on in my pregnancy. I’d already checked with my doctor and midwife about international travel while pregnant and received the green light, with advice to travel during the 2nd trimester if possible. With that in mind, I nervously committed a large chunk of money to the trip, not knowing how I would feel, or how big I would be, or if there would be any pregnancy complications that contraindicated travel when March 22nd rolled around.
Fortunately, I felt great during the 2nd trimester and my still-small belly, while sometimes frustrating because I wanted to “look” pregnant, made for relatively easy travel, with just a few challenges.
Challenge #1 — The Bladder
In London, I could count on relatively easy restroom access when out-and-about by ducking into a Starbucks or McDonalds. I became accustomed to walking in, quickly scoping out the place and the most likely restroom location, and making my way there, and back out, without making it too obvious that I wasn’t a paying customer.
Italy was trickier on the restroom front. In Florence, I ducked into a small restaurant and waited an agonizing 10 hours (okay, more like 10 minutes, or less) for the father and little girl who stepped in just before me to vacate the restroom, all the while hoping that the staff in the nearly empty place would not approach me and ask what I was doing, or call the polizia and haul me off to jail.
In Rome, we wandered for at least two hours trying to find a restroom one afternoon. I should have just sucked it up and played the pregnancy card, but the one time I tried to do that, in a small gelato shop (where we actually PURCHASED something, by the way), the rude woman denied my request.
Now I suppose it was POSSIBLE that they really didn’t have a restroom, even for employees, in the tiny shop, but I doubt it. There I was, a customer, obviously pregnant and in distress, and this woman wouldn’t help me. I left the shop fuming and in tears. When we finally found a restroom, it was at least an hour later 😦
Advice: Take full advantage of any restroom opportunities you get. Always go before leaving a museum, restaurant, etc. You never know how difficult it will be to find the next toilet. Though it didn’t work so well for me, don’t be shy about playing the pregnancy card.
Challenge #2 — Lots of walking while carrying extra weight
We walked EVERYWHERE in London and Italy, which was great from a physical activity perspective, but turned out to be hard on my body. Despite my relatively small size, I’m already carrying an extra 20 pounds — not insignificant! That, combined with loosening ligaments due to pregnancy hormones, led to some painful times. From the night of our second day in London, until sometime in Florence or Cinque Terre (about 6 days later), I walked around with excruciating foot pain and seriously thought I may have stress fractures in one or both feet. Miraculously, this went away on its own, despite being on my feet constantly.
Unfortunately, about the time the foot pain resolved, I started having issues with my left knee. Although I think that may finally be getting a bit better, it’s been at least two weeks now. It’s been especially hard trying to be good and stay off the bike since we’ve been back. Since I nigh upon refuse to drive anywhere within easy biking distance, I’ve felt like a prisoner in my own apartment.
Advice: Keep in mind the additional stresses that pregnancy puts on your body, even if you’re in relatively good shape. Don’t expect that you’ll be able to do everything, and plan to scale things back a bit. Tune in to early warning signs that you may be over doing things, and adjust as necessary.
Overall the trip was great, and I’m really thankful we had the opportunity and that it went so well.