I just found out I’m pregnant, a total surprise, right after I planned and paid for a trip to Cuba! I’ll be in my second trimester. I’ve been wanting to go my whole life and not going is not an option. I know I need to bring my medical records, not eat fruit and drink only bottled water, but what else should I be aware of?”
Exciting! A good place to start before you travel abroad is the U.S. Department of State web site, which can tell you about visas and also health and safety risks. Then talk to your health care provider about any vaccinations you might need, medications you should bring or other precautions you should consider.
Keep in mind that it’s not just the water and produce you need to watch out for, but ice cubes and slushy drinks, rinsing your toothbrush and water in your mouth when washing and bathing. Traveller’s diarrhea (or any kind of severe diarrhea) can be dangerous to you and your pregnancy, and medical treatment and rehydration won’t be available in the same way it is back home. Make sure drinks are factory-sealed, that all food has been heated to steaming hot, and only eat fresh uncooked fruit that has been peeled.
In any tropical climate be sure to bring lots of CDC-approved bug repellant to ward off bug-borne illnesses, and be sure to reapply as directed. Check bedding for bugs and use a sleep net if you’ll be sleeping in an unscreened room.
Consider obtaining medical insurance that will pay for you to be flown home if you have a medical emergency. There is a tourist hospital in Havana, but it’s cash only and ATM and credit cards won’t work there, so bring an extra emergency cash stash. Also because of the embargo there will be a high cost to convert from dollars, consider bringing Euros, pesos or British pounds. Make sure you know where the U.S. embassy is located, should you lose your passport, get arrested or run into other trouble.
But don’t skip your chance for a once-in-a-lifetime trip! Just do your best to minimize risks, stay safe and have fun. And don’t forget to keep a journal so your future kid can someday learn about the trip s/he took with you!