Andrew and I decided to take a weeklong babymoon to Italy this April. I’m going to write separate posts about each of the destinations we visited—Naples, Pompeii & Herculaneum, Positano and Matera—but first I wanted to share a little bit about our decision on when to go, and also my fears and worries beforehand and how things panned out in real life.
I want to preface this by saying this is just my personal experience. I’m not a doctor, and what happened to me in my pregnancy will not be true for everyone. I share this because it’s the kind of encouragement I wanted to read before my trip, and I hope it encourages other expectant moms.
I’m due in late July and my doctor recommends no international travel after 28 weeks. Because of the timing, that meant that the very latest we could go on our trip was late April. Since we really wanted warm weather, we decided to push the deadline right up to the limit and go while I was 26-27 weeks pregnant. When I started planning the trip at 10 or 12 weeks pregnant, I had a lot of fear and worries about this. Would I be able to enjoy the trip at the very end of my second trimester? Would I be physically uncomfortable on the trip? Would the 8-hour flight to Italy be unbearable? Would I be able to do as much sightseeing and walking as I wanted? How would I feel?
The answer to these questions is that I was fine. In fact, I was better than fine. I was great. Every person’s pregnancy is different, but for me I was still 100% fine to travel—even 8 hours in coach—walk around all day, and even climb like one million steps in Positano from our hotel to the beach. I always carried a bottle of water and a snack in my purse, took breaks and asked for a rest when I needed them, and made sure we got three hearty meals a day to keep my energy up. But most of my fears about traveling while pregnant were unfounded.
The biggest message I want to share with other expecting moms out there is believe in yourself, trust yourself and don’t let fear consume you. Pregnancy can sometimes seem like a litany of “don’ts” and “you can’ts,” and that negativity can be discouraging and infectious. You will hear messages that you’ll have to slow down, and the expectation is that you will feel terrible. But that may not be your truth. It wasn’t for me.
I think the message communicated to expecting mothers is that pregnancy will somehow make you less than you were before. There is a widespread belief that you will be less capable, less able, less yourself—even mentally! People joke about “pregnancy brain,” which is just another way of saying “you’re less.” And that attitude is so harmful and negative to someone who is undergoing a huge life change and needs to hear affirmations, not discouragement.
You are not less! You are literally more! And you can accomplish the things you want to. It may take planning, and it will certainly take guts, because plenty of people are going to express doubt. But don’t let these doubts keep you from experiencing life. If I had let fear keep me from going to Italy, or choosing a destination that I knew would require me to climb hundreds of steps, I would have missed out on an incredible life experience, and unique bonding time with my husband—our last international trip before becoming parents.
I felt like a normal human being, albeit one whose stomach was protruding and who intermittently felt kicking and poking while enjoying truffle pasta and pear ricotta cake. I was usually in bed by 10pm, but that’s been normal for my entire pregnancy (except the first 8 weeks or so when I truly was exhausted and would go to bed as early as humanly possible). I needed my husband to slow down his New York walking pace a bit, and, sure, I made use of more public bathrooms than I might normally. But overall, I had a wonderful vacation, with moments of total relaxation and invigorating exploration, that wasn’t affected by being pregnant. We saw and did everything we hoped to. Being pregnant doesn’t have to mean you can’t.