Having just taken our dreamy babymoon in Italy, I discovered there is a lot more to think about when you’re planning a trip while pregnant. In the past I haven’t worried too much about our itinerary, where we’ll be staying or how we’ll get there, but suddenly when you’re pregnant these are things you have to take into account.
What makes this difficult is that every pregnancy is different and, unless you’re planning a very last minute trip, you probably won’t know how you’ll be feeling closer to the time.
Tiredness, aches and pains and sickness affect mums-to-be in totally different ways so if possible keep things flexible and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do everything you’ve planned if you don’t feel up to it.
As I say, you’ll know what’s right for you, but here are a few things I found useful to think about when planning a trip while pregnant:
Think about where you want to go
When I first started planning our babymoon, I had grand plans of jetting off to the Maldives or Cuba. However the more I thought about it, the more I realised I had no idea how I’d be feeling at seven months (28 weeks) pregnant. I’d had a bit of back pain in my second trimester, so would I want to be doing a long-haul flight as I entered my third? It’s worth thinking about how comfortable you’ll feel taking long journeys.
Something else to consider is the health system in the country you’re planning to visit. Obviously, fingers crossed, like with any trip, you hope that everything will run smoothly and you won’t need any medical assistance. But it’s worth the peace of mind to know that you would trust the health care system should you need it.
In the end, after taking the above factors into account, we decided to stay within Europe and chose Italy as our destination, which was a two-hour flight away.
Check you can fly
In the UK most airlines will not let you fly after 36 weeks of pregnancy (32 weeks with twins or multiples). After 28 weeks you may also be requested to supply a note from your doctor saying you are in good health and that you have experienced a normal pregnancy so far. We flew to Italy when I was 28 weeks and returned home when I was 30 weeks, so I did request a letter from my doctor (you may be charged an admin fee for this). We flew with BA and were not asked for the letter on the way out, but were asked to show it on the way back.
I also had a chat with my midwife about our travel plans before we left the UK. She recommended I buy some compression socks for the flight, to reduce the risk of blood clots and reminded me to take all of my medical notes relating to my pregnancy, just in case I required any healthcare while we were away.
Take out health insurance
Make sure you take out a good health insurance policy, which covers you while pregnant.
Currently UK residents can also travel with an EHIC card in Europe, which provides access to the equivalent level of healthcare a national of the country you’re visiting would receive (nb. this may change post-Brexit). However this wouldn’t cover you for extra accommodation costs etc if needed for any reason.
Consider cancellation policies
This is something I’d never really worried about too much in the past, as I always assumed I’d take a trip! But while booking our Italian babymoon I paid much more attention to the cancellation policies of the places we were going to stay in. We chose a range of accommodation while we were in Italy, including an Airbnb flat, a self-catering apartment (booked through booking.com) and a B&B (booked directly with the owner). Each one had a different cancellation policy, which explained how much of your money you would receive back, depending on how close to the date you cancelled. It’s also worth taking out your travel insurance at the same time as you start to make accommodation bookings and check that your policy covers cancellations.
Pack for comfort
I must admit that the packing for my Italian babymoon was somewhat limited by what fits me at the moment! But it was very much about comfort over style. I took a few nice dresses for dinner, but my suitcase mainly contained my maternity t-shirts, a pair of super-comfy shorts and my good old maternity jeans, which I’ve been pretty much living in for the past three months! I’ve also got to the stage in my pregnancy where I’ve sadly had to ditch the high heels and get used to wearing sandals in the evenings to avoid swollen feet.
Consider what the weather will be like when you travel and if you’re going somewhere hot make sure you pack lots of cool clothing to help with the pregnant lady hot flushes!
Think about what luggage to take
Usually when Mr A and I travel together we both just take our big backpacks, which are super easy to get around with. I love the convenience of being able to quickly throw everything into them and easily being able to get on and off public transport with them. However we knew that this time there’d be no way I’d be able to carry 15kg+ on my back so we decided Mr A would take his backpack and I’d pull along a cabin-sized suitcase. Obviously two weeks of clothes and accessories took up more space than that, so we shared the load by putting all of our heavy things like toiletries in the case and Mr A carried lots of my clothes in his bag. Our system worked quite well as pulling a case was easy for me most of the time and it was small enough for Mr A to carry up and down stairs and onto public transport when needed.
Think about where you’ll be staying
Some people find the later stages of pregnancy quite tiring so in Bellagio, on Lake Como, we decided to stay in self-catering accommodation as this allowed us to cook at home on nights when I didn’t feel like going out and have a lie-in if we were tired. This worked out really well for us and I must say, Mr A’s pasta dishes gave some of the Italian ones a run for their money!
Also when doing my research on Cinque Terre, which was another of our stops, I discovered that many of the hotels in the five towns were up steep hills or huge flights of stone steps. Considering I currently get out of breath just walking up a small set of stairs at work, I realised that this may not be ideal. So when I read about nearby Levanto, which was just five minutes away by train and all flat, it seemed much more appealing. We ended up in a B&B there which was really close to the beach and lots of restaurants and was the perfect location for us.
Opt for a sensible itinerary
This was definitely a big one for me, as I often try to make the most of every minute of a trip, cramming in as much as I can. When we had our honeymoon in Japan we spent three weeks dashing around the country staying just a night in some places as we attempted to see as much as we could. However I knew that I’d have to slow down on this trip, so I scaled back plans to visit lots of different places and instead just chose three to go to. This meant that we got to spend a decent amount of time in each place and weren’t constantly racing around. The end result was that it was so lovely and relaxing. We spent entire days just lying on the beach, or reading our books in coffee shops. It was exactly what we needed and we returned home feeling refreshed rather than exhausted!
Have you travelled when pregnant? What are your top tips?