What I Learned When I Traveled to Europe While Pregnant With Twins

This time last year I was getting ready to head to England and France for Spring Break.  The trip had been planned and paid for long before I knew I was pregnant with Harrison and Katherine.  When I saw that first positive pregnancy test at the end of December, I experienced a moment of panic. I reminded myself that people travel while pregnant all the time.  In mid-January, we found out that we were expecting twins and I, once again, got a little bit nervous about traveling.  Two separate doctors gave me the okay to travel while pregnant with twins. At a little over 16 weeks pregnant, I hopped on a plane and took off.  It was an awesome experience but I did learn a few things about traveling while pregnant.

What I Learned About Traveling While Pregnant

  1. Get the okay from your doctor.

    As long as you are healthy, haven’t experienced any complications in your pregnancy, and aren’t too far along, your doctor probably won’t have any problem with you traveling.  However, it is still best to have that discussion with your doctor.  According to the two doctors that I talked with, it is perfectly fine to travel well into the third trimester.  If you are pregnant with twins or have had complications in your pregnancy, your doctor may recommend no traveling after 26 to 28 weeks.  Only you and your doctor can make that decision so it is important to have that conversation.

  2. Have your doctor provide you with a letter giving you medical clearance to fly.  

    Most airlines do not put any restrictions on pregnant passengers that are less than 28 weeks pregnant.  However, once you hit 28 weeks (or look like you are 28 weeks) you may start getting some questions from airline staff.  When you discuss your travel plans for your doctor ask for a letter that states how far along you are in your pregnancy, when you exact due date is, and that you are medically sound to fly.  I requested a letter just like this even though I was only 16 and 17 weeks during my trip last year.  Since I was carrying twins, I obviously looked like I was much farther along than that so I wanted to be sure that I had proof with me if any airline staff questioned me.

  3. Be familiar with your airline’s policy for pregnant passengers. 

    Here’s the deal.  There is no consistency to the restrictions that airlines place on pregnant passengers.  Most airlines will let you travel without any questions or restrictions until 28 weeks.  However, after that point, every airline has a different policy.  Some airlines won’t let you travel past 32 weeks while others require a letter of clearance from your doctor after 36 weeks.  Make sure you check the website for the airline you will be using to see what their policy is before you go.

  4. Take nausea medication with you…even if you think you don’t need it.

    With my first set of twins, I threw up all day every day for the entire pregnancy.  Our second set of twins proved to be much kinder to me.  I had very little morning sickness with Harrison and Katherine.  Because I hadn’t really been sick, I didn’t think I would need any medication for travel sickness.  Boy, was I wrong!  I ended up feeling very nauseated on several of my flights and finally got sick in Paris.  I highly recommend taking something with you whether it is a prescription medication from your doctor or an over-the-counter medication.  Even if you don’t need it, it is better to have it on you just in case.

  5. Move.  

    Pregnancy puts you at a higher risk for developing blood clots when flying.  One of the best ways to prevent this is to make sure that you move regularly.  If you are on a long flight, make sure that you get up at least once an hour and walk the aisle.  Take a trip to the bathroom (you’re probably going to need to go anyway).  Flex your feet and ankles while you are sitting.  Use your feet to write the alphabet while sitting in your seat.  I also recommend buying compression socks.  These also helping with preventing the development of clots while flying.  I bought and used these compression socks and loved them.  They worked really well for me.

  6. Be prepared to swell.

    I always swell a bit when I travel but I wasn’t prepared for how swollen my feet were by the end of my trip.  The compression socks that I mentioned earlier will help with swelling too.  I also recommend taking shoes that are a bit forgiving such as canvas shoes or flip flops, weather permitting.  I lived in a pair of the classic canvas TOMS on my trip last year.  The canvas was forgiving enough that when my feet would swell my shoes didn’t cut into my feet.  Also, make sure you have some room in your itinerary where you can stop and rest if your legs are too swollen.

  7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

    Any time you travel you need make sure that you stay hydrated but it is especially important when you are pregnant.  Drinking an adequate amount of water will help with travel sickness and swelling.  One of the best ways to ensure that you are staying hydrated is by keeping water with you.  I recommend this Camelbak water bottle.  I like these because they come with a straw which makes it easy to drink out of without tilting the bottle up and  they are also spill proof.  The way the lid is designed on the Camelbak also allows me to use a carabiner to attach it to my back pack which is really helpful while traveling.

  8. Grab a snack to go.  

    I am not a breakfast eater.  Never have been but I really can’t stomach eating in the mornings when I’m pregnant.  While traveling last year, I tried to force myself to eat breakfast every morning because I knew it could be a while before I got a chance to eat again.  Forcing myself to eat breakfast when it is not something I usually do probably contributed to the nausea that I experienced in Paris.  After spending a day vomiting and feeling terrible, I vowed not to make myself eat breakfast if I didn’t feel like it for the rest of the trip.  That ended up being a great idea.  However, I often found myself hungry before it was time for the next meal so I learned to keep some food in my purse.  Grab some granola bars or another portable snack to keep with you at all times.  Crackers are good options and can help if you feel nauseated.

  9. Listen to your body.Remember to take it easy as needed.  Listen to your body and rest if you need to.  If yout fret are swelling and you’re exhausted, make sure that you squeeze some time in to rest.
  10. Relax.You’re on vacation!  Remember to slow down and relax.  Traveling while pregnant is safe the majority of the time so relax and have fun!

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