After such a carefree travel experience to Japan in my second trimester, I was feeling pretty invincible. I felt great! Almost normal. Traveling during pregnancy was a cinch and made for the cutest photos.
Then the third trimester hit and everything changed. It turns out carrying a wiggly, hungry bowling ball around in your abdomen can really slow you down. Like a lot. As I write this I still have a full two months until Baby Twenty-Something Travel’s due date and it’s starting to feel like a challenge to get from the couch to the bathroom.
That’s not to say you can’t travel during third trimester, there are just more logistics to consider. You need to be a lot pickier about where, when and how you go. A relaxing beach getaway at 28 weeks? Heavenly. A fast-paced sightseeing jaunt around Europe at 35 weeks? Probably not gonna work out.
I only traveled a little in the third trimester, most notably a cross-country week long trip to DC to attend a friend’s wedding. Nonetheless, I think I can probably help out with a few helpful tips and things to consider when traveling this late in the game.
(Obligatory every person is different/ your mileage may vary/discuss your plans with your doctor’s preamble).
Okay, first things first. You obviously need to discuss any plans to travel during third trimester with your OB or midwife before you go. While technically you can fly up until you go into labor, different doctors have different policies for what they recommend. Some airlines require a note from a doctor after a certain point in your pregnancy so you want to make sure they are onboard with your plans. Mine discourages air travel after 34 weeks, sooner if you have a complicated pregnancy.
Flying, especially in coach, is just never going to be pleasant while your pregnant. The third trimester was definitely the least comfortable for dealing with a long flight though. You are much larger and more uncomfortable in general, and sitting in one position for a long time can be quite painful. Add in third trimester gassiness (Sorry, it’s true), overheating and sore feet and it’s kind of miserable. 6 hours was probably the limit for my personal sanity- I wouldn’t want to fly trans-pacific at this point in pregnancy.
Flying during the third trimester was also the first time I experienced swelling in my feet. Although I drank a ton of water and tried to move around at least every hour, I still arrived in DC with water balloons for feet. On the way back I used compression socks which helped quite a bit, so if you’ve been waiting to break those out, now is the time when you travel during third trimester.
TIP: Avoid the redeye and spring for the direct flight if at all possible. Beg, borrow or steal (or you know, just pay extra) so that you can have an aisle seat and move around every 45 minutes or so.
You Probably Can’t Eat as Much
Sadly, this is not the time to plan a culinary adventure, unless you enjoy feeling overfull and frustrated. Sometime around week 26, the baby got so big that she took possession of all my stomach overflow space. Even normal sized meals can leave me feeling bloated and nauseous.
Heartburn is also a major issue during the third trimester. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I found that what I chose to eat had no direct effect on how bad the heartburn got. Talk to your doctor, but Zantac was a lifesaver for me.
TIP: Small, frequent meals are the way to go at this point. Plan your travel days accordingly when you travel during third trimester.
Cut Down on the Walking
Walking has been my primary form of exercise all pregnancy. Living in an urban area with no cars means I pretty much walk everywhere. During our trip to Japan in the second trimester, we walked so much that I actually lost weight despite being 20 weeks pregnant and eating everything in sight.
Third trimester though, things get way harder. I could still walk quite a bit but not nearly as far as before. Stairs would knock the wind out of me (and could sometimes cause painful charlie horses) and long walks could lead to back pain and foot pain. Add in the leg and foot swelling that’s common third trimester and you will not be a happy camper at the end of a long day of sightseeing.
TIP: Take frequent breaks, drink lots of water and make your travel partner give you a nightly foot massage.
Access to the bathroom is an issue all through pregnancy and yup, it only gets worse when you travel during third trimester.
TIP: Pee at every opportunity. Don’t hesitate to use your giant pregnant lady status to extort bathroom privileges when necessary.
Hopefully, this didn’t come out entirely negative. I did enjoy the chance to visit family and celebrate a friend’s wedding. Traveling, particularly early in the third trimester is possible, and while the actual journey might not be enjoyable, the destination surely will. I for one though, am happy to be homebound for the next couple months.
This is part 3 of a 3 part series. Read: