When couples find out they’re expecting, many decide to take one final vacation together, otherwise known as a babymoon. And many people, wanting to experience all the best in luxury and adventure decide to go somewhere warm and tropical, often out of the United States. My husband and I actually took two international babymoons, one before each of our children was born. Obviously it’s advisable to run your plans by your doctor first, but if you’re having a low risk pregnancy and you’re feeling up to it, international travel during pregnancy is perfectly safe, a lot of fun, and great getaway before the baby arrives…provided you do some basic homework before you go.
The Location. If war torn countries are your thing, or you’ve got your heart set on “off the beaten path” locals that require massive immunizations and carry a high risk of disease, wild animal attack, or political instability, you may want to save that trip for a post baby adventure. Typically people pick babymoon locations somewhere they can relax, like a beach. After all, once the baby arrives, there will be very little relaxing. In my opinion, the more peaceful, the better.
The Flight. International flights can be long… very long… so it’s important to plan accordingly. First, try to get an aisle seat, preferably near the bathroom. I flew at the very end of my first trimester, when I was still running to the bathroom every half hour. Having an aisle seat that was near the airplane restroom was a huge advantage because I wasn’t disturbing everyone when I was getting up every 45 minutes. Second, take extra snacks on the plane. One of the babymoon trips we took included a 6 hour flight. That’s a long time to sit on a plane with nothing to eat but two bags of peanuts, especially if you’re still battling morning sickness. Make sure to pack some of your favorite pregnancy snack foods. And don’t forget to get up every so often and stretch your legs.
Research the Local Food. For our babymoons, we went to two countries in the Caribbean, both known for their outstanding, and unique seafood dishes. And I love seafood. But being pregnant, certain foods, especially certain types of fish, were off limits. A quick online search of the common foods served where we were going, cross referenced with the dos and don’ts of prenatal fish, gave me a list of dishes to avoid while on vacation. Simply research the common foods ahead of time and make sure they’re safe to eat while pregnant.
Work With Your Pregnancy – If you’re suffering from debilitating morning sickness that lasts morning, noon and night, steer clear of action packed trips, with lots of daily travel that will leave you miserable and exhausted. Build in some flexibility so if you’re feeling sick and just want to hang out by the pool all day, you can. And plan your food accordingly. One thing to keep in mind with international travel during pregnancy is that quick trips to a grocery store for standard morning sickness food supplies, such as crackers and ginger ale, might not happen. My husband and I drove an hour to the nearest grocery store for a box of granola bars. We actually made the trip to buy two cases of local beer for him, but the box of granola bars was a welcome treat for me.
Mind the Tap Water. Pregnant women are always encouraged to drink lots and lots water throughout their entire pregnancy. This is particularly important advice if you’re traveling to a warm climate with higher temperatures. However, depending on where you travel, it may not be wise to consume large quantities of the tap water. While the water was safe to drink on my two trips, I’ve been to other countries where tourists were advised not to drink the tap water at all and to even stay away from the fruit and vegetables because they were washed and prepared in the tap water. Sticking to bottled water and other bottled drinks is always a safe bet.
Know The Medical Resources and How to Contact Your Doctor. When we encountered a pregnancy related medical emergency on our babymoon, we were kind of at a loss. I had researched all the hospitals ahead of time, but none of them had the technology or staff to help us. Our town’s midwife was “off the island” for a few days and no one could contact her. Keep in mind when traveling internationally during pregnancy that the prenatal health care in underdeveloped countries isn’t always what it is in the United States… So we did the next best thing. We called our doctor back in the US, and she talked us through the situation and made arrangements for me to be seen in their office the day we got back to the States. Never underestimate the importance of a working cell phone and the ability to make international calls when traveling.
Follow The Rules – Just about every doctor has a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to traveling during pregnancy, and it’s best to heed those instructions. Many doctors advise women not to fly in their 3rd trimester, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Most cruise lines have restrictions that a women more than 25 weeks pregnant are prohibited from taking a cruise, so if you’re planning a cruise, watch your dates. Also doctors often advise pregnant women to avoid certain vacation activities such as scuba diving or recreations that commonly end in falls such as water skiing, snow skiing or horseback riding.
Having said all that, babymoons are a great opportunity for expecting couples to relax and reconnect before the baby arrives. Just make sure to do your homework if you’re planning on taking one out of town.
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