Before having kids, your travel worries involve things like forgetting your passport or losing your luggage. But when you have a bun in the oven, everything changes. Previously minor travel decisions (i.e. window or aisle seat) become vital ones (obviously, aisle seat. There will be many pee breaks!). Traveling with a baby on board can make boarding a plane, or boat, or bus, more difficult, but it shouldn't derail you from taking a much-deserved babymoon or any type of trip. That's why we've got 7 ways your traveling changes when you're pregnant to help you prepare for the trip ahead.
I was pregnant with my second during the height of the Zika outbreak. Even though I reluctantly had to scrap my plans of a beach vacation and in favor of a more local babymoon, I knew it was better to play it safe. Certainly, that's one of the biggest ways travel changes when you're pregnant — not all destinations are in play. Even though Zika isn't in the news much these days, it's still a concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you consult their world travel map before traveling while pregnant.
Once you settle on a safe destination, here are 7 things you should keep in mind — whether traveling by air, water, or land — to make your trip as pleasant, and safe, as possible with a baby on board.
1. You're extra sensitive to smells
I can distinctly remember walking by an airport food court in my first trimester and being overcome by the smell. One whiff of a hamburger joint and it was straight to the bathroom for me.
"Studies suggest that as many as two-thirds of pregnant women become more sensitive and reactive to the scents around them when they’re pregnant," according to What to Expect. And if you're in a small space like an airplane cabin, train car, or bus, those smells can seem particularly overpowering (i.e. that lady with the heavy perfume in your row or the man eating a fish fillet right next you).
So what can you do to make your travel more comfortable, despite the olfactory overload? Try packing something that provides a comforting scent, like some cinnamon, mint, or even baby powder, they advised.
2. You need to get up to move all the time
While traveling, it's absolutely essential that you get up and stretch often to avoid a serious condition called deep vein thrombosis, which is five to 10 times more common in pregnant women than in nonpregnant women, according to healthline.
"Especially on longer flights, women who are pregnant, just by nature of being pregnant, are at an increased risk of getting clots in their legs which can travel to their lungs, which can be life-threatening. If you are sitting for long amounts of time, you're increasing that chance. So when on flights, or even in a car for long amounts of time, we ask our patients to stop every hour, or every hour and a half, to get out and stretch their legs," explained Dr. Erin Duncan, MD, MPH of Atlanta Gynecology and Obstetrics, in a previous interview with Romper.
3. You can't cruise (past 24 weeks)
If the thought of feasting on all-inclusive cruise cuisine sounds appealing, you'll want to head out on the open waters before you reach 24 weeks. That's because most cruise lines do not allow passengers on board who are farther along than that.
For a comprehensive list on various cruise line policies on pregnancy, click here.
4. Wearing a seatbelt is not the same
I can speak from experience on this one: seat belts are a necessity. I was taking a taxi to the airport, about 4 months pregnant, and in the throws of motion/morning sickness, decided to lie down in the back seat (unbuckling my seat belt to do so). Next thing I knew, my driver was slamming on the breaks to avoid rear-ending the car in front of us, and I was hurled forward. I was fine but my OB still wanted me to come in for monitoring, and instead of flying to my friend's wedding, I was in the hospital.
If you're wondering about a safe way to wear your belt with a baby bump, the March of Dimes recommends always wearing both the lap belt and shoulder strap, buckling the lap belt under your belly and over your hips (never placing the lap belt across your belly), and putting the shoulder strap between your breasts but off to the side of your belly (never placing the shoulder strap under your arm).
5. You shouldn't fly too often
The occasional flight while pregnant is completely fine, but if you fly frequently for work or you work as a flight attendant, you may need to track your exposure to something called, cosmic radiation, which is unsafe during pregnancy at high levels, according to Web MD.
"Frequent low-altitude domestic flights or several high-altitude international flights may increase a fetus' risk of developing cancer during childhood," reported the same Web MD article.
To track your exposure using software from the Federal Aviation Administration, click here.
6. You need to pack way earlier
Packing well in advance of your trip is a smart idea when pregnant. That way, even if you've got a serious case of pregnancy brain, you have time to remember to pack all the necessities (i.e. ginger chews, plenty of water and snacks, a belly band for support, etc.)
If you're dealing with morning sickness, you'll also want to plan for that. "Make sure you carry anti-nausea stuff with you. This may differ from woman to woman and if you have a special inclination towards that pack of mints or that beauty soap, carry it in your handbag to curb any nausea or morning sickness that you may feel during the travel," advised Mom Junction.
7. You need more paperwork
Every time I travel, I run through a checklist: license or passport, check. Boarding pass loaded to my phone, check. Wallet and keys, check. But if you're pregnant, you'll want to add one more thing to that list: your pregnancy medical records.
"Should you need treatment from a local doctor during your trip, your records will provide an essential starting point for a medical professional to understand the circumstances of your pregnancy," explained the Huffington Post.
All in all, you're safe to travel as long as your doctor gives you the green light, but just bear in mind that when you're pregnant, your journey may not be as smooth as it usually is, so it's best to prepare yourself as much as possible. Because you never know what unpleasant pregnancy side effect — hello, nausea — will decide to make an appearance.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.