China / Safe for Pregnant
Usually, we don’t do much of the planning before our trips. Usually, we pick a travel route heard from a friend, which was passed to another friend and yet another friend until it finally reaches us. And then our planning mainly consists of just having the tickets and knowing the time of the departure from Riga International Airport (well, quite rare). We almost never get on the reading and googling expedition beforehand any of our journeys.
By Natalya He
For instance, when we travelled to Thailand - in April 2016 just a day before the departure to Bangkok we were at the party where we met a Russian guy named Andrey. He was just back from his 2 months trip to Thailand and told a bit of his story, so we decided to borrow a part of his route and adapt it to our trip. It made our journey to Thailand so far the most planned trip we have ever had.
China was something similar – and we even had a heavy 1,255 pages Lonely Planet guide with us borrowed from our Irish friend (Cheers, Sam!).
Book for two, fly three
We booked a trip to China in December 2016. I love that feeling when you click on the “book now” button and from that moment this “secretly” guards you against all the negative and routine-related stuff in your life. “Life with a planned trip is easier than the one without it,” my friend says. Two weeks later I realized Nina decided to come with us – I was pregnant.
Of course, I was worried should I travel or not. Pregnancy makes you an extremely worried person – suddenly, you have to be responsible for a brand new human being and you still don’t feel totally responsible for yourself. “You shouldn’t go,” my mom said right after I had told her. She was worried, but she always worries about as all moms do, that’s why I told her about our trip to Indonesia with 6 months old Nina only on the day of the departure.
I was quite an active and inspired pregnant woman, so I decided to have my first try of travelling while being pregnant by going to Ireland (Riga to Dublin takes 3h 20m) in early spring. I had talked to my friends who were travelling pregnant (hi, Lucy), asked for a “permission” from my doctor, read some encouraging articles titled something like Pregnancy is not a disease and 10 things you should know if you are travelling pregnant.
They say the best time to travel while pregnant is the second trimester. It’s actually the best time to do anything while being pregnant. I got a certificate from my doctor that gives an airline a hope that labour is not going to start during the flight. Starting from 28th week many airlines require such a document. Most of them don't accept women to fly who are over 36 weeks pregnant. There were cases when babies who had been born on board got free travel for life ticket with the respective airlines (applause to Jet Airways and AirAsia), but there are no guarantees and the aircraft isn’t the best delivery room, so don’t take it as a life hack.
The only pregnant girl in town
You know that thing – when you are into some specific topic/thing/matter, you start noticing a lot of it around you. Like noticing hundreds of Toyotas on the streets exactly when you are thinking of buying this car. So, when I was pregnant it seemed to me that every third girl in Riga is expecting a baby too – so many girls with bellies I had been noticing around! We were in China for 3 weeks and my locator detected only 3 or 4 pregnant women. Our Chinese friend Thue told us that usually pregnant women don’t go out much while their parents take decent care of them during the pregnancy. “A pregnant woman for Chinese is like a treasure” he explained, so no crowds and worries are allowed. Partly it’s because of the demographic politics in the country. From 1979 till 2015 half of all parents in China were allowed to have only one child. In 2013 China slightly loosened the restricting policy, so families could have two children if at least one parents was an only child in his or her own family. Effective from January 2016, it became a universal two children policy that allowed each couple to have a couple of kids.
Of course, during pregnancy, you should be careful and try to minimize risks, but there is a difference between self-care and some kind of paranoia, I think. It’s a very enjoyable time and baseless fears shouldn’t screw it up.
So, everybody was surprised seeing me climbing the stairs in Huashan mountain park. It was easy. I must say that I have never seen mountains reachable easier than the ones in China. If you forgot to take your trekking boots with you – don’t worry, you still can go up using cable car or stairs like all these girls in princess’ skirts and high heels do. But my husband who loves hiking was rather disappointed.
Chengdu – highly recommended for pregnant
After visiting China, I don’t think that Italians are the most expressive nation in the world. I noticed it the very first minute when boarding on Dubai-Beijing flight had started. We were more than 20 hours en route already, so I was a little bit impatient and then we encountered all those loud and hustling people trying to get on the plane to China like it had no numbered seats. They were carrying some strangely shaped stuff and speaking a little bit louder than everyone else around them, trying to shout his/her friend down. Sadly, these were my first impressions of Chinese people before we had to spend the next 3 weeks in China. In other words, it seemed to be a very hustling and loud place and most of the time it was like that but not in Chengdu.
Chengdu is a home for Chinese national treasure - the giant panda, that is such a relaxed animal! Completely opposite to the Chinese people. My sweetness’ equalizer was on its highest level after all day spent in Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. “That is the life attitude we have to gather,” I thought. Lazy and totally satisfied with life, lying on a bamboo bed with a green bamboo leaf in the right paw, and with the left one trying to protect his meal from the other black-and-white bear. A huge number of tourists, screaming children, selfie sticks everywhere – no reaction, total zen and self-confidence in a sense of “I’m sexy and I know it”.
We discovered even more laid-back places in China, such as absolutely idyllic Yangshuo with its beautiful river between mountains that you can explore in a two-seat bamboo boat, or staying in the Hotel Dalifornia located in a very atmospheric town called Dali. That is, no worries in China – totally safe for pregnant, as well as travelling in general. Everything that makes you happy is advisable. Well, maybe loud Chinese people could be a doubt factor, but I must say that at the end of our trip I changed my mind dramatically seeing how family-oriented and warm they are. Our friend Thue introduced us to his family and treated us with the most delicious Beijing Duck (in Beijing!). I saw so many folks having dinner together: two or three generations at the roundtable spinning the food in the centre so everyone can easily get what he wants, telling stories to each other and elderly people taking care of the babies - all of this happens at once and gives you a harmonious feeling. A lot of youngsters accompany their grannies to the mountains and other sightseeing spots and this looks adorable, especially for the future parents.
I wonder what connection Nina will have with China when she is more grown up and whether she will feel comfortable with the Chinese language that she was listening to for 3 out of 40 weeks in my belly.
So, if you are travelling pregnant:
1. Talk to your doctor and take a certificate that shows the number of weeks of your pregnancy.
2. Wear compression stockings or compression socks during the flight and at the airport. Also, wear them during long walks. Wear them all the time during the trip. Your legs will appreciate it.
3. Try to get a front seat in the aircraft so you could have more space for your legs during the flight. It’s not always necessary to pay for them – talk to the cabin crew before departure if you can take the front seat, usually, they are really attentive and willing to make sure you feel comfortable and safe.
4. Walk in the aircraft during the flight – try to stand up every 30 min of the flight.
5. Drink more water. It will also help you not to forget walking during the flight.
6. Communicate and ask for a better service – your belly is like a multi-passport that allows getting better seats, better cabin in the train etc.
7. There are a lot of metal detectors in China, but you are not obliged to go through all of them because it’s not healthy for any human being, not only pregnant, if used in large doses – again, communicate.