Traveling while pregnant

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.

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4 Responses to Traveling while pregnant

  1. simplybike says:

    So despite the bathroom issues and the foot pain, I’m still incredible jealous of your amazing trip! I was also looking into traveling to Europe while pregnant. It was going to be a later later in the pregnancy for me (weeks 29-33) for a work trip to Berlin, but I still got the green light from my physicians and midwives. But then the work trip fell through and we found out that we have a SUA baby, which would have made my leaving for 4 weeks during the 3rd tri. impossible anyway.

    A lot of people expressed a lot of shock when hearing that I was planning to fly while that pregnant but if you’re healthy and have no reason to suspect complications, everything I read and learned from my medical providers said that travel up to week 36 is ok. So good for you for taking this trip before the baby arrives! It sounds like a great way to enjoy some couple time together while you still can.

    S.

    • Melissa @ HerGreenLife says:

      Sorry to hear that your trip was derailed. I noticed a lot of families traveling with babies, so maybe you’ll be able to travel before too long.

      One note: I followed a friend’s advice and wore compression socks on the flights to prevent fluid accumulation and swelling in my legs, and to lower the risk of DVT. I’m not sure they were necessary, but I didn’t have any issues, and they may get more use later in the pregnancy if I do start having swelling issues.

      Just another note: If you’re obviously pregnant, you may want to avoid the exit row seats, despite the nice leg room. On our RyanAir flight (more about how special THAT was later), the flight attendant made me move to a non-exit row seat for take-off and landing. Fortunately, I was able to sit with Matthew in the exit row for the rest of the flight.

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