Family

Libby Matthews’ pregnancy page: Why I'm having my baby in South Africa

Libby shares her tips for travelling while pregnant – plus her decision to have her baby abroad.

Over the last seven months of my pregnancy I have done a lot of travel for work which definitely takes its toll on energy and stress levels.
This month I will be making my final trip before I give birth - to relocate to South Africa as my partner is there for work. We have decided it is best for me to have the baby in South Africa as we will both be living there for the next year.
Having a baby in another country can seem like a terrifying thing to do and this was not the easiest decision for me to make. I will be away from my friends and family, not to mention in a completely different time zone with a 20+ hour flight back home to New Zealand.
No longer can I drive 15 minutes down the road to my parent’s house.
Libby Matthews and her partner, Mike Boxall
However, I am lucky to have the birth booked in at a private hospital which has an excellent maternity ward and I have a great midwife and gynecologist.
After a year of many back and forth trips, I will finally be moving to South Africa to embark on a completely new, scary and exciting chapter of my life.
There are many sacrifices you need to make when pregnant, but travelling does not have to be one of them.
Yes, you might have to travel in a safer manner, but travelling when pregnant is definitely possible. If you are travelling for work or being whisked away on a baby moon, there are steps you can follow to ensure your flight is enjoyable.
Libby at 26 weeks pregnant
Here are my top tips:
What to wear when flying and pregnant
If you are like me and already living in maternity clothes, travelling is going to be a breeze. If not, I suggest travelling in something light and loose.
You need to think of your circulation, when you’re pregnant your veins and arteries are already under strain and the added cabin pressure will not help this. Wear a comfortable bra, loose t-shirt, do not wear tight shoes as it is common for feet to swell, and pack warm socks and a jumper because planes can get quite cold.
Remember to regularly stretch and if you can, get up every couple of hours and stretch your legs to get the circulation flowing through your body.
Airline restrictions
If you are flying in your third trimester, be aware that airlines do have restrictions in place. You will need a letter from your doctor or midwife outlining your due date, single or multiple pregnancies and the absence of any complications. It is common for airlines to not allow pregnant woman over 36 weeks to fly.
Remember to take out travel insurance that covers pregnancies and if you are flying to a foreign destination, make a list of hospitals in case anything does happen on your trip.
If you can, plan any travel in the second trimester as you have less risk of anything happening. Travelling in the first 12 weeks can be hard if you have nausea and the risk of miscarriage is higher during this time too.
Packing well and being prepared are both ways to reduce your anxiety ahead of your travels
Pack snacks
Pregnancy can definitely increase the appetite and there is nothing worse than being stuck on a long flight with not enough snacks on hand. If you are suffering from morning sickness you might be put off foods, so it is always safe to take some food that you can tolerate.
I like to pack crackers, protein bars, fruit and a high protein salad. If you take an empty water bottle on the flight, most airlines will fill this up for you so you don’t have to rely on the small cups of water that are handed out.
When you are travelling to foreign countries, stick to bottled water and always carry one with you, especially in the heat.
Choose your seating
Certain airlines will offer priority seating when you’re pregnant but even if they don’t I’d recommend choosing an aisle seat. The last thing you want is to be next to the window on a full flight, unable to get up and move around/go to the bathroom if the person next to you is sleeping.
I paid a little bit extra on a long haul flight recently for an economy seat with extra leg room. This made a huge difference as I was able to stretch and move around easily.
Allow chill time
Pregnancy makes you tired so allow for some chill time once you reach your destination. Try to avoid booking flights that are in the middle of the night or very early in the morning.
Give yourself plenty of time to catch up on sleep once you arrive and do as much as you can to have a rested flight. Pack an eye mask and ear plugs, ask for a blanket and extra pillow and pack warm clothes so you don’t freeze mid-flight. Cabins can get cold.
Relax
It is easy to worry and stress about smaller things when pregnant (thanks hormones) and flying when pregnant can make you extra anxious. It is important to learn to relax when flying because babies in the womb are exposed to the mother’s well-being in general.
If you are feeling healthy, physically and emotionally, then do as much as you can to relax. Pack a book, have a playlist on your phone with relaxing music and get to the airport on time so you’re not rushed.
L x
Libby Matthews is a first-time mum-to-be, who along with sister Julia, has inspired Kiwis with the popular lifestyle blog, Julia & Libby. Over the next few months, Libby will share the highs and lows of her pregnancy with us here at the Weekly.