Author: Dani Ward.
Are you planning a trip during your third trimester? Maybe you need to travel for work, or perhaps a beach babymoon is calling your name?
Whatever the reason, travel in the third trimester can be super stressful for a lot of pregnant women. (Let’s be real – what doesn’t stress you out when you’re pregnant?!)
I did major international trips in the last couple months of each of my 2 pregnancies, so I promise: it can be done! It takes a little bit of prep and a lot of “take it easy”. Here are my top tips for travel in the third trimester!
For the flight
Before you book that flight, be sure to check your airline’s requirements for pregnancy. Most airlines have a cut-off date of somewhere around week 36. If you’re anywhere close to that, you will need a doctor’s note confirming your due date and that you are ‘fit to fly’.
Some airlines will require you to have a note if you’re anywhere past 28 weeks. Even if yours doesn’t, you may want to consider bringing a note anyway. I mean, how many times have you heard the phrase, “Wow! You’re ready to pop!” Now imagine the gate agent saying that. How can you argue?
By having your doctor’s note ready.
Airplane comfort and safety
Another thing to consider when you book your flight: comfort. Flying at 36 weeks, I needed some space to spread my legs out around my belly. The middle seat was not ideal. And if you get the window seat, think about how many times you will have to squeeze by the other passengers to go to the bathroom. Not easy! My preference while super pregnant is for the aisle seat or splurging a little more for an extra leg room seat or big front seat, depending on which the airline offers.
When you are pregnant, you have an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, or blood clots. This risk goes way up when flying. Fortunately, you can do a few things to minimize the risk.
First, be sure to wear compression stockings during your flight. You will probably need help getting these on! And trust me, you don’t want to put them on in the middle of a crowded airport terminal. Have your partner help you out before you leave for the airport if possible!
It’s also imperative that you get up and walk at least once every hour. We all know that you’ll be up that often to go pee anyway, but spend a few extra minutes stretching your legs while you’re up. Walk up and down the aisle a few times, or stand outside of the toilets and do some stretches. The important thing is to keep blood moving through your legs. Additionally, rotate your ankles periodically while you’re sitting.
Do what it takes to make your seat as comfortable as possible. Just having a pillow under your butt can make a huge difference! For one trip, I brought a sleeping wedge on the plane and sat on that – it was great! But you could also just ask the flight attendant for a pillow.
For the destination
When you’re booking your hotel, think about what your body will need toward the end of pregnancy. We didn’t think about it when we booked a room in Amsterdam, and ended up having to climb the steepest stairs I’ve ever seen to our 4th floor apartment. It would literally take me 10 minutes every time because I would have to rest so often!
Consider how you plan to get around before you book. If you’re renting a car, you’ll want to be sure that you can park relatively close to your room. If you’re relying on public transportation, ensure that the walk to the nearest stop is not very far.
Think about the sites that you’re planning to visit, as well. Is that beautiful temple worth the stairs it will take to get to it? Does that beach require a climb down a sandy hill? If you’re booking way in advance, you might not know just how your body is going to feel in the third trimester. Plan for the worst.
One thing that will really help make all that walking easier is a good pair of shoes! If you’re anything like me, you’ve already had to buy all new shoes because your feet have grown 2 sizes. Or is that just me? Make sure that you bring your most comfortable shoes on your trip. This is not the time to show off those cute pumps!
If you have any items at home that make your pregnancy so much more comfortable, bring them with you! For me, I could not sleep without my pregnancy body pillow. Traveling is hard enough on your body, and you might not be in the most comfortable bed. You will want your favorite body pillow more than ever! If you can’t sleep without it at home, then it’s worth the luggage space to bring it.
The most important thing you can bring to maximize comfort is a supportive partner! If your partner is joining you on this trip, then he or she needs to understand that you will be slow, you will need to rest often, and you will probably need a lot of help. Carrying bags, getting up and down stairs, putting compression stockings on – your partner better be prepared to do it all!
Take advantage of people’s desire to help
One thing about being super pregnant? A lot of people will want to help you. I say let them! When we visited the Colosseum in Rome, our family was pointed toward the disability entrance and allowed to skip the line entirely, even without having pre-purchased tickets at all.
In London, I must have looked pretty miserable as we entered the British Museum, because the staff came right over with a wheelchair. While I resisted at first, I knew that I would not be able to stand long enough to really enjoy the museum without help. With my husband pushing me in the chair, I was able to take my time and get the most out of the museum.
Just in case
No matter how healthy your pregnancy is, you will want to have a back-up plan for just in case something goes wrong. Research where the closest hospital is to where you are saving, and how to call for an ambulance. Make sure your partner knows that information, as well. Have your doctor’s after-hours number with you at all times.
Questions for your doc
Before your trip, you’ll want to talk with your doctor or midwife. To start, give them a heads up that you’re going! Find out how best to contact your doctor in the case of an emergency, or if you just have some questions along the way. I messaged back and forth with my midwives every few days during one trip, so I was thankful for their messaging service.
Your doctor can also talk to you about how safe your destination is. Is there Zika there? Other known risks specific to pregnant women?
Find out what extra vaccinations you’ll need, if any. And ask for a list of foods to avoid. If you try to avoid every food that the internet tells you to, you’ll starve. And let’s be honest – am I really going to avoid all cheeses in Europe? Absolutely not. But your doctor can give you a concise list of the things that you really need to watch out for.
Travel in the third trimester has its own set of challenges, but none of them should stop you from going. And hey, it might be the last chance you get for a while – take it!