I want to get pregnant. Should I start right away or wait?
March 28, 2010 9:56 PM   Subscribe

Is there any danger in taking a two-week trip to Europe while being a month or two pregnant?

Due to work and personal reasons, I want to start getting pregnant right away, as in, as soon as possible. I have a two week vacation in Europe planned near the end of May, which includes several long flights and two weeks of walking and being a regular tourist.

I know that the chances of getting pregnant on the first try are slim, but still, should I try to go for it next week when I'm supposed to ovulate, or should I wait until after the trip? Considering that, like I said, it would be better for me to conceive as soon as possible.

I'm 27, very healthy, and I know you all are not my doctors and won't be taking your thoughts or advice as medical advice, just general knowledge.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's no problem as far as I know, but what better excuse for a European tour than to conceive!
posted by quarsan at 10:12 PM on March 28, 2010

I took a two week work trip to Germany when I was about 11 weeks pregnant, and all was well. Really, the only worries are that plane flights are more uncomfortable, and that, in the first trimester of pregnancy, your energy level will be very low...so walking far and hard may not be in the cards. You may also be one of those unfortunate souls afflicted with extreme morning sickness, which might make the trip less than pleasant at times.
posted by Wavelet at 10:18 PM on March 28, 2010

Morning sickness may be an issue - don't underestimate its horrible effects. Other than, only the temptation of delicious, soft, unpasteurised cheeses...

Seriously though, just on the off chance of morning sickness, I wouldn't risk getting preggers; it would ruin your holiday if you had morning sickness. Ruin it. Don't be fooled by the name: it's not just for the morning.

I don't know your reasons, but a few months is usually not very long in the grand scheme of things. I guess you need to decide whether you want a baby three months faster than the risk of a ruined holiday.
posted by smoke at 10:24 PM on March 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have unusually difficult first trimesters -- unusual, but not uncommon, you might say. I'm in the unlucky 10%. I'm also 7 or 8 weeks pregnant right now, so I can tell you some of how I'm currently feeling. Let me stress that this is not a WORST case scenario, but a worst-LIKELY case scenario. . . modulo HEG or something truly epic, my case is about as bad as you're going to get.

I need, at a minimum, nine and a half to ten hours of sleep a night these days. Upon awaking, I'm immediately queasy; if I shotgun a cup of very cold water, I can at least get the morning hurl out of the way before I have to take my meds or eat anything. However, the quease never really goes away. Instead of getting hungry, I get queasy. I usually throw up a couple more times during the day. More concerning, for your purposes, is the fact that around 2:30 or 3:00 PM, I become absolutely exhausted -- like, all-night road-trip exhausted. It's literally impossible to not be lying down; I fell asleep while peeing the other day. There's also the "dog nose" phenomenon, where smells are acutely intense, and may or may not be peculiarly bothersome. (We had to change toothpaste because the smell of it on my husband's breath at night is just unbearable.) And I'm parched, all the time, I'm drinking something like four liters of water a day and peeing as much as you'd think.

That's the worst you can reasonably expect. 80-90% of women are not going to get anything anywhere near that bad.
posted by KathrynT at 10:31 PM on March 28, 2010

Missing out on all that red wine and soft pasteurised cheese? I'd wait to get up the duff.

More generally, I would think there should be zero health issues with flying and walking, if you're a healthy normal person. Remember, pregnancy is not a medical condition!

Good luck!
posted by wilful at 10:42 PM on March 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't say it's dangerous at all, barring some bizarre complications, but it could be mightily unpleasant. I'm 11 weeks pregnant now, and weeks 6-8 were absolutely miserable for me. I was constantly nauseous, except when I was sleeping, which was a lot. The nausea got progressively worse as the day wore on too. I still gag when I'm brushing my teeth and get queasy if I don't eat something every 4 hours or so. At its worst, I would never have been able to enjoy a trip like this, as all I wanted to do was hide in my bed because I was soooo tired.

Given a choice, I'd wait on trying to get pregnant. Believe me, I know how exciting it is to finally be at the point where you and your partner are officially ready to start trying, but I think you should give yourself the opportunity to fully enjoy your trip without any interferences.
posted by chiababe at 11:00 PM on March 28, 2010

if you're 31 weeks pregnant, ticket agents in Switzerland won't let you get on the plane without a doctor's note...

you might as well start trying; probably you won't get pregnant right away anyway.
posted by leahwrenn at 12:13 AM on March 29, 2010

Some things to take into consideration:

There's a chance you won't get pregnant right away. According to some figures I've seen, about 20% of couples manage to get pregnant within the first two cycles without birth control; for the majority of couples, it takes a few months (or more).

Morning sickness most definitely can put a demper on your holiday - been there, done that (what a waste of Corsica!), and mine was just persistent motion-sickness type of nausea without vomiting . Not all women have it, of course.

During the first trimester, most pregnant women I've known have been very tired. (I found myself literally napping at my desk at work.) Tiredness can exacerbate the nausea.

Last but not least, there is the chance of miscarriage, which is a little more common than most people realize (often estimated as around 10-15%). Don't get me wrong - traveling won't cause it, and in most cases there's not much to be done anyway. And if you have decent travel insurance, you'll have easy access to good health care in most places here in Europe. It can still be upsetting, scary and/or require treatment, and (speaking of experience) something I wouldn't want to go through in a completely foreign environment.

I've found travelling during the second and even third trimester no problem at all, but having been pregnant three times now, I wouldn't plan anything that demanding for the first three months.

Conclusion: not dangerous, quite possibly very unpleasant. I'd personally lean towards waiting.
posted by sively at 1:09 AM on March 29, 2010

you might as well start trying; probably you won't get pregnant right away anyway.

It's true that you probably won't, but you might; I did, and I'm quite an 'old lady' as far as childbearing is concerned.

The main reason I would say don't do it is that there is a small but not negligible chance of having crippling morning sickness. I had it (am now about 20 weeks pregnant) and could barely get out of bed for 2 months. I was pretty unlucky, but bear in mind that even if you just feel quite tired and a little 'off' it's not going to make for a fun holiday. Smoke is right that morning sickness is not just a puke in the morning and then you're set for the day. If you get it, you'll probably be feeling at least mildly crappy most of the time.

In terms of danger to the embryo, there's none - as sively says, there's a high risk of miscarriage in the first trimester, but that is not going to be caused by anything you do or don't do (it's apparently generally caused by chromosomal or cell division problems, or other things that go badly wrong early on. Definitely not caused by flying or lots of exercise or anything like that). The main reason I'd say avoid being in the early stages of pregnancy when you go on a nice trip is that there's a very good chance that you'll be feeling pretty awful. YMMV.
posted by different at 1:43 AM on March 29, 2010

I'm well into my second trimester now, but I very well remember my first months of pregnancy. Everyone at work who didn't know I was pregnant at the time but saw me every day said that they had no idea I was pregnant, I seemed to have so much energy and was in such good spirits. IT WAS ALL A LIE!! I felt like utter crap the whole time. I used to wake up in the morning and beg my husband to bring me a few crackers so I could fill my stomach and stop the nausea. I'd shower, and then go lie down again, and as soon as I got home I would lie down. I had to have access to light snacks at all times because it was the only thing that would keep the nausea at bay BUT I couldn't have anything greasy or sweet because I would feel horrible.
The closest thing I could compare it to was being really hungover for about three months. Like, the worst hangovers from my youth. And apparently I had it easy.
But, I did work 8 hours every day, and walked to and from work (45 mins each way). But I didn't enjoy it.
If this is your first trip to Europe, and if for you getting pregnant will mean you won't be going back for a while (which is not necessarily the case), then I wouldn't risk ruining this wonderful experience. Try to get pregnant in May! If you're two weeks pregnant while travelling you won't even know it!
Good luck with the trip and with your decision!
posted by nprigoda at 2:57 AM on March 29, 2010

Seconding: missing out on drinking wine, beer, grappa, etc. and (well, depending on your fear level) eating unpasteurised Cheeses and Meats. I hear the locals don't worry about such thigns much...
posted by mary8nne at 5:01 AM on March 29, 2010

I would go.

I would also eat the cheese. In re. mary8nne's 'locals don't worry' Being pregnant and receiving unscientific advice go hand and hand
posted by kmennie at 5:59 AM on March 29, 2010

KathrynT gave very good advice. And let me add that if you're extremely unlucky, you'll end up like me, with hyperemesis and in the hospital (twice each trimester!) for dehydration and medical intervention because you literally cannot keep down ice chips. That was me, with both pregnancies that carried to term (I miscarried twice, not related to this question).
posted by cooker girl at 6:16 AM on March 29, 2010

Yeah. Either put off the trying to get pregnant bit until after the trip, or maybe plan to go a little later in pregnancy than the first trimester. You should be able to fly pretty comfortably in the second trimester, which tends to be a bit easier on the body than the first and the third --- especially if like me your morning sickness was more on the mild side and subsided right around 16 weeks painlessly. And this is also after you'll know how hard or easy a pregnancy you'll be having, give or take. How your body will handle a pregnancy is impossible to know until you are pregnant.

The second trimester would be great for walking around and seeing the sites and all, but others have pointed out on how you'll miss out on other stuff by being pregnant.
posted by zizzle at 6:47 AM on March 29, 2010

I'd put off one or the other. My mom was sick for the entire nine months she was pregnant with me. NOT fun, and she certainly wouldn't have been able to traipse around Europe. YMMV, of course.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:50 AM on March 29, 2010

Anecdotally, my friends who knew when they were supposed to ovulate (like you seem to), got pregnant a lot faster than the ones who just stopped using protection randomly and waited to see what happened. Based on the potential 1st-trimester misery described above, I don't think it's worth the risk to take the attitude of "it'll probably take a while to get pregnant anyway."
posted by vytae at 8:24 AM on March 29, 2010

To balance out the horror stories: my morning sickness didn't even begin until I was eight or nine weeks pregnant and was manageable (I was just constantly nauseated and did not want to eat. Ever.). I took a vacation near the end of my first trimester when the nausea and fatigue were both in full swing and the trip turned out very nice. I just went in to the vacation with the expectation that it would be very mellow and low key. I planned for a nap every afternoon and didn't try to do a ton of activities every day. Eating out every meal turned out to be great: I managed to eat more since I didn't have to deal with any of the food prep or cleanup.
posted by rebeccabeagle at 8:39 AM on March 29, 2010

More balance: if you do get pregnant before you go and don't have the kind of morning sickness that some experience, you may find yourself in the happy position of being extra-hungry and in a place where delicious food is everywhere. Happened to me.
posted by lakeroon at 9:19 AM on March 29, 2010

follow up from the OP
Thanks everyone for your answers and personal experience. I was thinking about potential dangers to the actual pregnancy and hadn't really considered the "dangers" that pregnancy would bring into my trip. My own mom had really bad nausea throughout all three of her pregnancies, so I guess I probably shouldn't risk spoiling my vacation if I end up getting morning sickness all the time. (Though I'm hoping I have more of my dad's genes; his four sisters all had four pregnancies each and said it was the best they've ever felt.)

For anyone still reading: How soon did you start to get morning sickness? When did it go away?
posted by jessamyn at 9:30 AM on March 29, 2010

You're welcome! And you're quite right, you could go either way with morning sickness - you may just be a bit more tired than usual in the evenings (as happened to a friend of mine) or you could be disgustingly ill like I was. Hopefully you'll have your dad's genes!

As far as I know morning sickness generally begins around week 6 and starts to taper off early in the second trimester, when the placenta takes over. In my case I started to feel mildly ill around 5 weeks and the sickness left around 15 weeks, with quite a few peaks and troughs in between. I should imagine that there are as many variations as there are women, but there are also heaps of remedies which may help you to some extent if you do get sick (Google will fill you in on these, as what worked for me may not work for you).

Best of luck, and I agree with the poster who said that starting to try in May would be ideal (if you're in very early pregnancy when you take your trip, you won't even know it yet).
posted by different at 9:47 AM on March 29, 2010

For anyone still reading: How soon did you start to get morning sickness? When did it go away?

My first symptom was incredible fatigue, which started early, around the time I would've expected my period. The "morning" sickness (which in reality ebbed and flowed throughout the day) started about a week later and lasted until roughly the end of the first trimester, which AFAIK is pretty textbook.
posted by sively at 2:12 PM on March 29, 2010

The sickness started at around five weeks. With my daughter, it went until about 14 or 15 weeks. This pregnancy, I don't know yet. One thing to consider: every time I throw up, it flings my uterus into my bladder, and I piss myself. Every time. I'm short-waisted and I have exceptionally strong abdominal muscles, but it lends quite the adventure to barfing when I'm out and about!
posted by KathrynT at 2:42 PM on March 29, 2010

My own mom had really bad nausea throughout all three of her pregnancies, so I guess I probably shouldn't risk spoiling my vacation if I end up getting morning sickness all the time.

I have to warn you, you're unlikely to get your dad's sisters' pregnancies over your mom's. My mom, sister, and I have terrible morning sickness. For this, my third pregnancy, I was pretty much on semi-bed-rest, vomiting several times a day, and in the hospital for IV fluids once. It's really god-awful, like being terribly hungover for 4 months.

And all three times, I've gotten pregnant on the first cycle, without any effort to time anything for ovulation.

I just write off those whole four months as part of the cost of having a baby. Worth it, of course! But I would wait on getting pregnant until the 5-to-20-week period is outside the vacation period. Enjoy the trip!
posted by palliser at 9:09 PM on March 29, 2010

I went to Paris in December at around 4.5-5 weeks, and it was great (3 weeks after ovulation). I started getting sick the DAY we got back, at about 5.5 weeks. I spent about the next two months unable to move from nausea and exhaustion and throwing up an average of 3 times a day. There are zero risks to your pregnancy other than the risk of having to go to the doctor in a foreign country if something goes wrong. In my case, I'd had a miscarriage earlier in the fall, so travel kept my mind off the worry of the first few weeks when things are most likely to go wrong (and there's nothing that can be done if they do). I was a little extra tired and had to take a break on the steps inside the Louvre, plus I needed to eat on a schedule. A week later, it would have been completely different and not as much fun. A month later, I wouldn't have seen anything outside my hotel bed and bathroom.

In the second trimester, travel is fun again, though with my first pregnancy I didn't stop throwing up until 20 weeks. This time it was dramatically more severe but trailed off when it's "supposed" to, around 13-14 weeks. You can't really go by pregnancy of relatives, since it can vary so much by pregnancy, not just the individual. I had zero morning sickness in the pregnancy I lost (probably a sign that things weren't right, in my case). Plus, I'd be wary of older anecdotes because amnesia can set in pretty damn quick. Two months after it stopped, I can barely remember that I was nonfunctional for two months straight. Anecdotally, it seems like there are very few people who miss out on both the nausea and the exhaustion. Lots of people who generally feel good while pregnant (I exercise the whole way through, "carry well", and have a fairly good reaction to the hormones) still have miserable first trimesters. It just fades over the overall memory because nine months is an insanely long time.

So yeah, hold off if you really want to do the trip at that time and if this is a very rare opportunity for you. The best case scenario for your trip is probably that you don't get pregnant this month, so you might as well not go for it. I recommend charting/temping, though, so you know what's going on, when you are ovulating, and how long your luteal phase is. I might consider going for it the next time around, in early May, depending on your attachment to stinky cheese and drinking, and if you're comfortable with some level of risk to enjoyment of your trip. The 5-6 week nausea/exhaustion is, for many or most people, dramatically less severe than the peak in the 8-12 week range.
posted by pekala at 12:38 PM on April 2, 2010

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