Go to Mexico When Pregnant?
February 18, 2006 4:50 PM   Subscribe

Medical/Vacation/Pregnancy-Filter. Should I go to Mexico on vacation if I am in the first weeks of pregnancy?

Long story short: been trying to get pregnant for more than 2-years. Lots of medical treatments, IVF, etc. Lots of money and failed treatments. Lots of frustration. Made vacation plans a few months ago after another failed treatment -- needed something to look forward to. Vacation is now in one week: Mexico, at a very nice resort near Puerto Vallarta. But, of course, in the week before we are to leave, I have had two positive pregnancy tests. I am likely 2-3 weeks pregnant. I have never gotten this far along before.

I very much want to go on the trip. But should I? I've talked to my doctor about it, and he advises against it, but only out of admitted extreme caution. He tells me that if anything goes wrong with the pregnancy at this stage, there really isn't anything to do about it medically anyway. So it isn't as if I need to be ready to rush to a hospital -- if it fails, it fails. The only real worry is getting sick from food or water. I've never had that problem before in many trips to Mexico, and that can really happen to you anywhere, right? Also, I could be very careful about what I eat/drink.

One additional consideration is the money: this trip was expensive, $5,000 or more. The resort has a no refund policy without 30 days notice -- we're well past that. Maybe they would be sympathetic and give us something back? Or maybe we could sell the trip on Craigslist or something and recover part? Not sure. Obviously, money isn't the most important thing here. And another round of treatments is certainlly more expensive. To the extent it matters in your analysis, we can afford the loss without major financial distress.

There's probably no right answer here, so I'm interested: what would you do?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
It's a standard risk decision, and it's something that nobody else can make for you: on the one hand, you have a chance that a nice trip could negatively affect a pregnancy that was the result of a series of difficult ordeals; on the other, you've got a greater chance that you'll forfeit $5,000, which you state would not be a huge financial setback.

Having had friends who went through the ordeal of multiple surgeries and IVFs in order to get pregnant, and given my otherwise risk-averse nature, I'd stay home and try to recoup as much of the loss as possible. Any chance the resort would accept a doctor's note?
posted by aberrant at 5:09 PM on February 18, 2006

Is your trip refundable for medical reasons? If you're unable to travel for medical reasons (hyperemesis/fainting/nausea/depression/doctors' orders), can you get your money back?

I wouldn't go. When I was a few weeks pregnant, I thought I was miscarrying. Although it turned out to be another (minor) problem, the day I spent in the hospital was very stressful, even though I was at "my" hospital, had access to my specialist, my files were there, and I was just a few blocks from home. Afterwards, I could at least relax in my own home and see my own doctors. I didn't have to deal with foreign medical system, travel insurance or anything like that.

Also, let's say you miscarried and it turned out that the baby was Rh negative (or however that works -- I don't remember the details). You'll need a shot to prevent some sort of antibodies from forming. Do you want to negotiate that in a foreign country?

THe risk of food poisoning is higher in your own country, but now you're in another country and you're going to be eating all of your meals at restaurants. Restaurants anywhere may be risky.

You've gone to a lot of effort to get pregnant. You've waited for this a long time. Your doctor is recommending you not go. So....if you do decide to go, research everything in advance. Find out how your blood type is and whether there would be a problem. Get all the medical insurance info you need. (Keep in mind that you need to make sure the doctor would sign off to say you were medically fit to travel or else any claims would be denied.) Find out where the hospital is and how to get there. If you go, get all the information you could possibly need.

But, if it was me, I wouldn't go. I'm a bit paranoid, but I had a healthy baby after a tumultuous pregnancy.
posted by acoutu at 5:09 PM on February 18, 2006

My two cents -- after several bad experiences, I've written off Mexico entirely as a country I feel safe to visit. I'll never go to Mexico at all because of the significant lack of emergency medical services. YMMV.
posted by frogan at 5:11 PM on February 18, 2006

I'd go. A miscarriage at 4 weeks is a) nothing you can do anything about b) unlikely to be life threating and c) outside of some physical trauma usually because the foetus isn't viable for some reason.

Besides which if your successful this is the last vacation you'll be having as a couple for the next 15 years.
posted by Mitheral at 5:11 PM on February 18, 2006

I would go. First, your doctor says there isn't anything that could be done medically if something goes wrong. Second, once you have kids, taking a nice vacation for the two of you gets significantly more difficult. Go, relax, enjoy.
posted by ambrosia at 5:13 PM on February 18, 2006

I'd go too, and just take it easy and be careful about the food and drink. Like ambrosia and Mitheral said, if your pregnancy goes well (as we all hope it does), your hands are gonna be full for quite a while.

Congratulations, and good luck!
posted by Gator at 5:21 PM on February 18, 2006

I wouldn't go for one simple reason: if something were to happen, and I did lose the pregnancy, I would wonder for the rest of my life if it could've been prevented by staying home, especially if another pregnancy never ends up taking. It wouldn't matter how many people told me there was nothing to be done, but I would beat myself up especially hard if a doctor had advised against it. What's the point of taking a "pre-baby" vacation if it results in not having a baby at all? Sounds like you can go to Mexico anytime you want, will it be as easy for you to get pregnant again?
posted by Ugh at 6:09 PM on February 18, 2006

Puerto Vallarta is really nice, you won't have to worry about the water or any unsanitary conditions. I don't know about the hospitals, but with so many americans living there, I'm sure they are decent.
posted by idiotfactory at 6:34 PM on February 18, 2006

I wouldn't hesitate to go. But maybe you could see about rescheduling it for your second trimester. Four weeks is right around when I started feeling tired and sick all the time with my pregnancies, but by week 12-14 I felt like a million dollars. A fat million dollars, but I was too busy eating to care.
posted by padraigin at 8:48 PM on February 18, 2006

FWIW, my husband and I both ended up sick when we went to Cancun a few years ago -- and Cancun has filtered water and other luxuries.
posted by acoutu at 9:42 PM on February 18, 2006

My wife is in prenatal genetic counseling and she was telling me just tonight of all nights about cases she's had in which babies have developed syndromes involving seizures and that sometimes maternal toxoplasmosis is the suspected cause. I think toxoplasma is something you need to be sort of worried about in Mexico. So, if you go, make sure you take all the relevant food/drink precautions, like drinking only bottled (preferably non-Mexican) water.
posted by shoos at 10:24 PM on February 18, 2006

A bit off-topic, but the Rhogam injection is needed only if the MOTHER is Rh-negative, a fact she or her doctor would likely know by now.
posted by houseofdanie at 9:33 AM on February 19, 2006

RIght. I was just meaning that she should check to make sure she wasn't one of those women.
posted by acoutu at 11:09 AM on February 19, 2006

If you do go, to avoid the nastiest bacteria (such as toxoplasma and listeria, which be very harmful or even fatal to the fetus, even if you exhibit no symptoms or illness):

- Ensure your meat is well-cooked;
- Stay away from deli meats and the like, unless it's been well heated;
- Avoid queso fresco and any other soft or unpasteurized cheese;
- Make sure all of your fruits and veggies have been washed.

There's other stuff, but those are the most applicable here. Here's some more information from the FDA. Additional FDA pregnancy-related articles can be found here.

I'd also stick to bottled water and be careful about seafood intake (amount and type).

I have no idea if you're more likely to run into this in Mexico than anywhere else, but these are precautions you'll want to take regardless of location. Eating at restaurants makes it difficult to know how your food is prepared or even what's in it, so keep that in mind.

Also, somebody else mentioned the possibility of moving the trip forward. I agree that it's worth considering. About 3/4 of women get what is laughingly called "morning" sickness, and it hits hard from between about 4-14 weeks. If you're one of the unlucky ones, you're going to be absolutely miserable.

Good luck, whatever you choose. To answer your ultimate question: I'd probably choose to stay home, though not entirely for food safety and medical availability reasons. You may be surprised at how much you'll need and want to conserve energy, and the first trimester is so touch-and-go.

Oh, and congratulations.
posted by moira at 11:27 AM on February 19, 2006

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