Traveling During Pregnancy: First Trimester
There’s nothing more exciting than finding out your pregnant. The day I took my pregnancy test (don’t get excited guys, I’m talking about last year, I’m not pregnant again) and saw those two lines pop up in less than 3 seconds, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Our sweet girl was a surprise to us, although we had been talking about trying to have a baby since I would be hitting my 30’s in October, and we felt like it was the next step for us. Her timing was perfect.
After the initial shock of finding out I was pregnant, I didn’t really know what to do, because I had a friend visiting at the time and we were literally heading out for the Netherlands in a matter of minutes. I wanted to save my secret and have Derik find out first (I thought it would be cruel to either text him or show up at his work to tell him the news and then head out of the country for a few days), so I kept it all to myself while my friend and I explored the Netherlands in all its’ floral wonder (post on this coming soon).
So what is it like traveling in the first trimester?
I found it both easy and hard: Easy because I wasn’t cumbered down by the extra weight of the baby yet, but hard because the nausea was real. My calculations put me at about 5 weeks pregnant for my first trip, and wouldn’t you know it, the morning sickness hit all of a sudden while we were in the Netherlands. I will say, the heightened sense of smell was pure heaven while we were biking through the tulip fields, but not so much walking around the streets of Amsterdam. I also felt like the second I put something in my mouth my stomach would turn and I had to do all I could to keep my food down.
After the Netherlands, we took a trip to London, and I did not experience swelling during the plane ride or after, so that was a plus! Again, probably the biggest thing was the food-aversion.
I was able to do everything we had previously planned comfortably: I learned how to ride a two-person bike (thanks to our really great b&b stay) with my friend, and biked to the windmills of Kinderdijk, walked 10 miles around Amsterdam, biked 20 miles through tulip fields, and spent hours in London walking and hopping on and off the tube.
I will credit the fresh spring air for keeping some of the nausea at bay — we were outside a majority of our travels. I would also like to note, if I had experienced any discomfort whatsoever I would have not gone so hard walking or biking for the sake of my pregnancy. Physically, I felt fine minus the nausea, and my body was okay with the amount of exercise I was getting — I wasn’t doing anything extremely strenuous.
- Go easy on yourself – Especially if this is your first pregnancy! Not only are you growing a human at a rapid rate, but your body is changing, shifting, growing to make room for the baby! Just because you could do something before (like whip out a quick 3-mile run), may not mean you can do it now. Listen to your body. If you feel overly tired, take a nap. If you feel hungry, eat. If you have aches and pains, soak in a warm epsom salt bath.
- Let the company your traveling with know you’re pregnant – I realize this one is difficult, because you may not be ready to tell people you’re pregnant — Just like I was with my friend when we traveled to the Netherlands! If you’re planning on going somewhere and doing things that may be dangerous for a pregnant woman, and you don’t mention it beforehand, people will probably start wondering why you aren’t out with them bar-hopping in Ireland or riding jet-skis in Greece. If anything, let one person know so they can help be an advocate, and be a voice for you while being discreet. If two people ‘don’t feel like drinking’ it’s far less suspicious than one.
- Fuel your body – I can’t stress the importance of eating. I had the worst morning sickness that lasted until around week 20, and it was really hard planning anything around it. I felt like I couldn’t ride in a car, go on walks, go out with friends, etc because I was worried I would get sick.
I was able to get anti-nausea pills from my doctor and took them on the days we were going out, but in general, if I ate tiny meals throughout the entire day it actually helped keep the nausea and vomiting away. It also helped if I ate a cracker or two in bed 15-20 minutes before I got up.
If I forgot to eat or skipped a meal, I felt like my body would literally start shutting down. Nausea, headaches, shakes, light-headedness… you name it. It’s also important to remember to eat as nutritious as possible to fuel both yourself and your growing baby!
Packing snacks might be one of the best things you do for yourself while traveling. Pack things that are easy to take with you in a backpack and eat on the go. Some of my favorites were hard candy (for the nausea…Jolly Ranchers were heaven-sent), beef jerky, fresh fruit, crackers, and assorted nuts.
- Wear comfortable shoes – Although I did not have major swelling within my first trimester, it’s best not to put a lot of stress on your muscles and joints. Wear comfortable and supportive shoes, especially if you plan on doing a lot of sight-seeing and walking around. I realized I was a lot less achey on the days I wore my tennis shoes than I was on the days I wore flip flops (don’t judge).
- Drink lots of fluids – This point goes hand in hand with fueling your body, but your body does retain fluids like crazy while you’re pregnant, so make sure you’re drinking enough water! It is very easy to dehydrate when you feel sick and nauseous, add travel on top of that, and you’ve got a sure fire way of getting into trouble if you don’t drink enough! I brought my Nalgene bottle literally everywhere I went and would aim to get 64-96oz a day.
- Get enough sleep – No doubt you’ll be tired in your first trimester, so make sure you’re actually trying to get some rest! You’ll thank yourself later when you start getting uncomfortably pregnant, or have sleepless nights with a newborn. Not having enough sleep can also lead to nausea (found this out the hard way multiple times)! Do not feel guilty if you’re on a trip and you need to wing by the hotel to take a quick nap or two during the day, and aim to get at least 8 hours if you can at night!
I highly recommend traveling while you can before the baby arrives, because once they do, your accommodation, day trips, packing list, schedule, etc. etc. are going to look way different! Take time to enjoy and don’t be too hard on your growing and changing body. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures! There’s nothing more fun than looking back at yourself knowing you had a little baby inside of you as you were out and about exploring the world!