I am sweating here under the Californian sun with in the last weeks of my pregnancy. We have experienced a long real heat wave and I'm sure there are still many to come. Everything has gone mostly well and I have been feeling great. At some point after the baby is born, we will travel to Finland to see my family, but we have not decided when yet.
During my first pregnancy I flew to Finland and back on my third trimester. On the second trimester, we also did a honeymoon trip to Hawaii. At that point I felt really good and I didn't stress about traveling. With this second pregnancy some little things already started bothering me earlier. Technically I could have still traveled in the beginning of June, I just felt like it might be too much for me at this point. Especially since I would have travelled with a 5 year old with me. I did go to Europe in the very beginning of my pregnancy and later we did a longer road trip here in California. Traveling is fine and fun as long as you feel good about it and don't get too stressed.
FLYING WHILE PREGNANT
Flying always takes its toll on your body, so if you are already not feeling well, I would just avoid it. Usually the recommendation is that you can fly until week 36, if your pregnancy has gone well. Some airlines will require a doctor's note after week 28. These rules may vary on different airlines, so always make sure what the requirements are before booking a flight. Some american airlines for example, don't force them; they are just recommendations.
Drink plenty of fluids on the flight, since the low air pressure on the airplane may cause some dehydration. You might not be experiencing "edema" (pregnancy swelling) yet, but sometimes long flights will make your ankles swell. Drinking more water can help with that too. I also made sure to get up and walk a bit every once in a while on my flights. In order to do that, I chose an isle seat when I booked my flight. I also use compression socks which prevent swelling and blood clots during flights. Your seat belt should be used under your belly just like in a car.
My doctor here in California advised me not to go through the modern x-ray machines at the airport security check. You know the ones where you stand in the "X" position while they take your picture. However, the TSA says on their website that they don't use actual x-rays on these machines and they are safe for pregnant people as well, but you are entitled to ask for a pat down instead if you want.
I have been happy to notice that at least here in the U.S. people are very helpful when they see my big belly. A few times I was directed to the front of the lines at the airport and many people offered to help me with my luggage. In Finland not so much! I had to ask for some help on the train, so I could get my luggage up to the luggage bin. People would eventually help, but I always had to ask them.
WHAT KIND OF TRIP SHOULD I TAKE
During this second pregnancy, it has been important to me to think about what kind of trip I am willing to do. On my first pregnancy, I was ready to fly on the other side of the world just like that, but now I would rather stay on the ground. So we have done some trips by car where you can more easily control how far you want to go in a day. You can move your seat in the position you want and use the air conditioner when you want. Basically, you can do what ever you want when you do your trip by car.
When I flew to Finland in January I was on my first trimester, and the jet lag felt overwhelmingly hard to overcome. In the beginning of your pregnancy you feel tired anyway and the darkness in Finland and the time difference really didn't help. I actually had my only morning sickness while I was there and took a train to Helsinki early in the morning. Maybe I would not have booked the trip to Finland if I knew I was going to be pregnant then, but I didn't. Overall, the easiest and safest time to travel while pregnant is the second trimester.
Then you should also think about the program on your trip. On our last road trip for example, I had to start taking it easy, since I noticed that I needed more rest. Doing something all day long gets you tired faster than normal, so does the sun. We had to skip a couple of nice hiking trails, because I wasn't completely sure I could make it. I'm glad my travel companion was very understanding even though we didn't get to do everything we wanted. It is best to take it easy and plan your day based on how you feel at that exact moment with no pressure. It is important to listen to your body!
You also need to consider the destination based on your situation. When we were planning our road trip for example, we had to rule out Texas based on my doctor's recommendation. In some U.S. states and some countries the Zika virus is still a real threat. And over all, I wouldn't travel somewhere where the risk of getting sick is high or there is no good medical care available. Like always, but especially when pregnant, it is important to take good care of your hand hygiene.
Now I have some personal experience of the fact that every pregnancy is different and no one else knows your body like you do. If you are in doubt then it is not worth taking a risk. You just have to trust your own ability to make a decision on what kind of trips you can still do. But pregnancy has never stopped me from traveling!
Have you been traveling while pregnant? Any tips for those who do?
Photos: JonnaSusa Photography. Please don't use the photos without permission.