Pregnancy Travel - Volunteering in South Africa

Del learned of her pregnancy the night before she departed on a 6 week trip which included volunteering in an orphange in South Africa.

Del was kind enough to share her travel experiences with us. Here is her story:

In June 2009, I had planned a 4 week volunteering stint in an AIDS orphanage in Johannesburg, South Africa. The night before I left Melbourne, I went to the Doctor to get some sleeping pills for the flight. The Dr said not to take them if I was pregnant. I knew my period was due at about that time so decided I should do a test that evening, before flying to Jo'burg the next day. So later that evening, just as I had finished packing, I did a pregnancy test. And then I did another pregnancy test. Two little pink lines never looked so pretty! We had in fact planned to start trying for a baby when I returned from the trip...because really...who goes off alone to Johannesburg when they are pregnant?

So there I was, 5 weeks pregnant [and thrilled that I was pregnant] but decided to still do the trip.

I went off to South Africa with the very real knowledge that I could easily have a miscarriage whilst there [just because of the 1:4 odds]… but, as I had volunteered at the orphanage twice before, I knew what to expect, what the risks were, and I was also very aware of the safety issues in Jo'burg. However I decided that I was smart enough to be as safe as possible and I just felt that things would be ok.

I got gastro a few days after I arrived there and they were a tough 3 days. Morning sickness kicked in at the same time. I was staying in a fairly poor area and it wasn't safe to walk to the local shops on my own, so just getting out to buy groceries was a bit difficult. But on top of that, fresh fruit and vegies were definitely not in abundant supply at the shops. There were limited choices and the quality of goods was very poor. Because of the morning sickness, the only thing I felt that was not only safe to eat but that I could keep down was homemade stewed apples, cup of soup seemed like a safe, quick and easy meal to have at the orphanage as well. So it was a pretty poor diet for a few weeks, but twice a week I would get a taxi to a nicer area of town and dine out at a nice restaurant and would revel in the opportunity to eat lovely fresh food...steak, chicken, green vegies and fresh fruit salad never tasted so good!

At the orphanage I just had to restrict some of my duties re some of the kids I came into contact with whom were not only HIV+ but also had other infectious diseases. I spoke with the nurses on duty there and they advised me of the precautions to take and which rooms not to go into. I remember on my first day in the Hospice at the orphanage, I was cuddling a little 8 week old baby girl called Sandy (pictured above) and she had these amazing eyes that just stared into my soul. Sandy was so tiny and precious, and I was loving just cuddling her...but at the same time, I was thinking ...what if loving and cuddling this little baby resulted in me losing my own baby...but I struggled with those thoughts just for 2 days and then I just surrendered to the notion that whatever will be will be and that I was there in the moment to cuddle Sandy, and so I did just that.

During my time in South Africa I went off on a 4 day safari in Kruger National Park. Days were spent in an open air 4wd truck, driving along very bumpy tracks and there was one day were it was so intensely bumpy for hours and I recall wondering if the constant bumping would do something to the tiny baby growing inside me, but again I choose to go with it and cross my fingers for the best outcome.

I also spent a day with some volunteers from the local St Vinnie’s program in Jo'burg and I donated colouring books, pencils, stickers to a group of very needy kids, which was a real highlight for me. (pictured below.)

So I spent 4 fantastic weeks in South Africa and then I came home to Melbourne. Four days later I popped over to Singapore for 5 days to celebrate my Mother's birthday with her. So by the time I got home I was 11 weeks pregnant and I only had to wait a week before telling friends I was pregnant.

In mid-March 2010 I delivered a very healthy 9lb 8oz [4.2kgs] baby boy. Neddie is now almost 11 months old and is the most happy, content, easy going baby and i just adore him.

The only other thing I will add is that I did 10 flights in 5 weeks and since childhood I have suffered from extreme travel sickness, be it on a bus, plane, train, boat or car. As I was pregnant, I was advised not to take the normal pills -[Kwells] to alleviate this. So I was prescribed Maxalon...and it didn't work at all for me. So on top of morning sickness, I suffered from extreme travel sickness during each of those flights and I vowed never to fly in my first trimester again.! Cheers, Del.

What a wonderful experience Del, you are an amazing mama! Thanks for taking the time out to fill us in on your trip. We look forward to hearing about any of Neddie’s adventures now he is on the outside - TWT

Del is a member of online community MumSpace where mums come together to share advice and their parenting experiences.