Mommy Tales: Traveling Internationally While Pregnant

January 22, 2013  |  

As a former skeptic of those who “just know” when they’re pregnant, admittedly, I knew. Even though I hadn’t experienced any morning sickness, I couldn’t help but wonder why I suddenly found it impossible to get out of bed. I didn’t think much of it until I came across something on TV. It was a celebrity couple that had decided to meet with a fertility specialist, because they were afraid that they were too old to have a baby. I immediately thought to myself , “Yeaaaah, I’m pregnant.”

I called my husband Maxwell on his way home from work, and casually mentioned that I “had a feeling” I might be pregnant. He sounded surprisingly calm, and asked if I had taken a test. I told him that I was planning on taking one that night. About 20 minutes after we got off the phone, I got a text message that said, “Hey, I love you. BTW, just ate an entire chocolate bunny. Guess I’m a little nervous.”

My friends had planned a farewell dinner for me that night at my favorite sushi restaurant. In just two days, I was supposed to be on a plane to Ecuador. To my surprise, Maxwell’s sisters showed up with a box of pregnancy tests, and hastily pulled me into the bathroom before our appetizers arrived.

I can only recall asking them what a plus sign meant, as they instantaneously kicked in the stall door, so that I could receive the loudest hug I’m sure that Japanese restaurant had ever heard. Needless to say, my womanly intuitions were pretty on point. Just to be certain, I went to see my cousin the next morning so that she could administer an official test. Her official answer was, “Yeah, you’re mad pregnant.”

It started to sink in when she gave me the rundown of what not to do as a pregnant woman. Take it easy? No heavy lifting? I guess I couldn’t help but look concerned. She asked me what was wrong, and I told her I was leaving for South America the next day–to go backpacking for the rest of the summer. All of a sudden, it hit me. It wasn’t just about me anymore. I was carrying precious cargo.

My original plan was to spend the summer gallivanting around Ecuador, Cuba, and Colombia. No longer seeming like such a great idea, I had a decision to make. I knew that I couldn’t tiptoe around for the next nine months because I was afraid to hurt my baby, but I also knew that I couldn’t allow myself to be as fearless as I used to be. My cousin called me later that night to ask if I was still planning on going. Breathing in deep, I made up my mind, and asked her for two months worth of prenatal vitamins.

Would you still travel internationally if you just found out that you were pregnant?


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  • Think Again

    I once was on a flight from Seattle to London. About 90 minutes out the plane was forced to turn back because a pregnant woman was apparently having a miscarriage. It turned out she had flown from Hong Kong to LA and then on to Seattle and now was on her way to London.

    Whatever possessed this woman to subject her pregnant body to all this stress and endanger the fetus is beyond me. In any case, in order to be able to land, the plane had to dump most of its fuel because it might have broken apart on landing so full. Heaven only knows how much toxic liquid was dumped into the air and what effect it had. It couldn’t have been good.

    So if you are thinking of flying while pregnant, consider that it is not only yourself that could be affected. Short flights are probably going to be OK, but long ones, specially trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic? And what about if you hit some really bumpy air? I used to enjoy that as a roller coaster ride until I had to endure it all the way from Chicago to San Francisco. I doubt that being thrown repeatedly against your seat belt is going to be very good for your child to be.

    Think again. As the author said, you are carrying precious cargo.

  • Valerie Leybag

    Thanks, Amelie (my favorite movie)! Being a first time mother, I was super scared. But I also didn’t want to lose myself completely, since traveling was and is my passion. So I just made a compromise with the little one, and made sure to listen to closely to his needs.

  • Amelie Poulain

    woohoo! right decision imho. caring for yourself means caring for your baby. to include regular exercise (backpacking) and healthy food (sushi, anyone?). that baby will tell you when to cool it, even if it is just the size of a thimble.