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If you know much about pregnancy, or have even just heard some things about pregnancy in passing, you have probably heard that the second trimester is generally the easiest of the three trimesters for most expecting moms. You usually aren’t as sick and tired as in the first trimester, and you aren’t as large, uncomfortable, and exhausted as in the third trimester. From roughly weeks 13 – 27 of a pregnancy your activity and comfort levels are often good, and this means that it can be a great time to travel. Those couples that like to take “baby moons” (one last couples trip before the baby arrives) often try to schedule them in the second trimester, so it is a very popular travel time even for those who don’t travel very frequently.
Of course every pregnancy is different, talk to your doctor, etc. etc.
Just like I did for the first trimester, I want to offer some tips for traveling during the second trimester. I also have some advice for planning trips if you are hoping to become pregnant in the relatively near future.
The Beginning and End of the Second Trimester and Quite Different:
My first piece of advice regarding travel in the second trimester is to recognize that you will probably enter the second trimester not really looking pregnant, and end it looking quite different. This means that you may very well feel very different from the start to end of the second trimester, so while the post is going to lump the second trimester together, please be aware that the second trimester is where lots of “belly growing” happens. This means that some types of travel will be more uncomfortable toward the end of these few months of pregnancy than at the beginning.
See the difference below from 14 weeks to around 27 weeks – much more belly at the end of the second trimester than at the beginning!
Consider Where You Are Comfortable Traveling:
A very personal and important decision to make during the second trimester is to determine if there are certain restrictions you want to place on yourself in terms of where you are or are not comfortable traveling. Some types of travel will ban women starting during the second trimester. For example, many cruise lines will not allow a woman to cruise if she will enter her 24th week of pregnancy (or later) while on the cruise. This may seem arbitrary or annoying to some, but I bet that 24th week was selected for a reason.
Many consider unborn fetuses to be “viable” beginning around 24 weeks (though that age threshold is getting earlier and earlier). This means that a baby born at 24 weeks gestation would have anywhere from a 50 – 70% chance of survival outside the womb if (and only if) they have immediate access to advanced medical care. A cruise ship clearly does not have an advanced neo-natal care unit on board, so presumably that is related to why that is where they draw the line for pregnant cruisers.
Personally, I also draw my own line for travel at 24 weeks when talking about destinations that don’t have the same level of advanced medical care as the United States, and for flights of a duration or flight path that could hinder prompt access to advanced medical care if I happened to unexpectedly go into labor. I’ll use the Maldives as an example of somewhere I personally would not want to travel to beginning by 24 weeks as there would be significant delays in obtaining advanced medical care somewhere as remote as those islands.
Of course most women do not deliver their babies this early, so the odds are certainly in your favor given a normal pregnancy that you won’t need any advanced medical care during your second trimester, but it is something that is worth thinking through with your partner and potentially doctor. Wherever you do decide to travel, become at least generally familiar with the medical care in that area, as well as how to access emergency services if needed.
Plan Big, but Not Too Big:
Truly the second trimester is a great time to squeeze in a pre-baby trip or two since you will probably be feeling relatively similar to your pre-pregnant self much of the time. We went to Aruba when I was 14 weeks pregnant and it was a fantastic trip at that stage in my pregnancy. I had lots of energy, a normal appetite, flying was not uncomfortable since my belly was still pretty small, and the only real adjustment we had to make was to make sure I had a somewhat larger bathing suit before the trip!
At 23 weeks I traveled to Spain and I again was able to experience the trip feeling pretty energetic and “normal”. I will admit that the flight in economy wasn’t super comfortable since I did have a belly that was hindering curling up in positions that usually help me sleep a bit on the plane, but our time on the ground in Spain wasn’t really impacted at all by the pregnancy other than missing out on the Spanish wine!
The great thing about both of those trips was that they were pretty much at my own pace. This meant that if I didn’t feel like doing much one afternoon I could take it easy and not push myself too hard. Even though you may feel great in the second trimester, you can still find yourself getting tired quicker than normal, so be sure to not over-stuff your vacation days with more activities than you can manage. There are also activities that most doctors would probably advise against by the second trimester like thrill rides, scuba diving, horseback riding, etc. so double check any restrictions before planning more adventurous outings.
Back Snacks, Drinks, and Keep Moving:
While you may be able to go a little longer between snacks than in the first trimester, you still need to be prepared with your own snacks and water while traveling in the second trimester. You never know when there may be a delay, or you will otherwise find yourself in an area that doesn’t have food or beverages that will work for you. It is also even more important than normal to be sure and stay hydrated on flights and get up and move around at least every hour or two to help prevent circulation problems. Having an aisle seat, preferably with extra legroom, will help with getting up frequently and stretching out.
Check Your Health Insurance Policy:
If you aren’t already familiar with what you medical insurance will cover when you travel, it is essential to brush up on those facts if you travel during the second trimester. Look at in-network and out-of-network benefits as well as the procedures for medical emergencies in other countries. Most likely, if you do have coverage in other countries through your own health insurance you will still be on the hook to pay the medical facility you visit up front and then submit for reimbursement, so plan accordingly.
Of course it is rare, but if you happen to have to deliver your baby unexpectedly in the second trimester, they will be in for a long and expensive NICU stay wherever they are delivered, so just be sure to brush up on your insurance coverage details ahead of time.
Consider Travel Insurance:
Travel insurance can be helpful if you are traveling while pregnant, but you are going to have to really read the fine print of the plan you are interested in to determine what might be covered and whether it is covered if you knew you were pregnant when you purchased the plan. Typically a normal pregnancy or normal delivery itself would not be covered, but if there unexpected complications with the pregnancy then related trip cancellation or trip interruptions coverages may kick in on certain plans.
I am so glad that I was able to travel as much as I did in the second trimester because now in my third trimester I am much more uncomfortable sitting for very long than I was just a few short weeks ago, and my window of travel for this pregnancy is quickly coming to a close. I’ll share more about third trimester travel tips and limits in a future post, but for now I’d love to hear your second trimester stories and tips!