Growing a Baby on a Boat

Brianna Randall Pregnancy

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The first question I get after the requisite “how are you feeling?” is “did you find it hard to be pregnant on a sailboat?” Short answers? Really good and not at all. 

Actually, I've felt eerily not pregnant, based on the lack of first trimester symptoms most of my friends complained about: exhaustion, morning sickness, food cravings. And I attribute my breezy early pregnancy to the fact that I was on a sailboat, anchored amidst lazy tropical islands with nothing I had to do and nowhere I had to go. I know, I know … not fair.

Our lifestyle from November through January was perfect for being newly pregnant. We were already settled in Tonga, where we lived for six months after sailing the previous six months from Panama through the South Pacific.I didn't have to work, and could focus on my changing body. Rob didn't have to work, so he could also focus on me, which staved off emotional distress from surging hormones. (Ok, maybe only some of the hormonal storms.)  Plus, since we were living on our friends' moored sailboat, I didn't have to struggle with the daily tolls associated with traveling or passage-making. Three months sailing the open ocean would've been a different story.

At anchor, sailboats don't rock much. I never felt queasy from seasickness, although a couple of times I got nauseous while we were out snorkeling in the little dinghy. Ironically, I've gotten way more queasy riding in cars again here in New Zealand. Landsickness, perhaps.

I never felt tired, but that's probably because I got a solid nine hours of sleep every night.  And I wasn't really doing anything all day that would make me notice if I wasn't functioning at full capacity. No deadlines to meet. No schedule to keep. Hell, I didn't even have to have a conversation unless I wanted to. The island life masks the lack of motivation quite effectively. 

I definitely wished for more food variety. But I wished for that before I got pregnant, too, especially after spending a year in the sparsely provisioned Pacific islands. I got pretty good at substituting something we had in our stores for what I was craving: popcorn for potato chips; lime water for ginger ale; egg burrito for enchiladas.

So, was it all sunshine and rainbows? Hell, no. I still had my fair share of meltdowns, crying for no reason like the world was going to end. I still wanted Mexican food instead of the same stir-fried veggie dish we had every other night. I still had to struggle out of the cramped v-berth to pee four times a  night. But in the end, I wholeheartedly recommend getting pregnant at sea…as long as your boat is anchored somewhere serene.

Now, four months pregnant, we've left that idyllic setting, largely at my urging. Not because I didn't love the view, the comfort, the sailboat we were lucky enough to live on. But because I was craving something more challenging, something more diverse. It just seemed too damn easy.

You're probably laughing now. Unless you know me. And then you're smiling and nodding, because I don't do easy gracefully. I managed to embrace easy during the right time, though, coasting through what could have been a challenging trimester. The easy flow of Tongan islands and the sway of sleeping on a sailboat allowed me the precious luxury of simply growing a baby. 

It's a gift I don't take for granted. And a gift I may look back on longingly as we trek through foreign Asian cultures during this next trimester.

Read more from Brianna here!

About the Author

Brianna Randall

Brianna Randall lives in Missoula, Montana where she toggles not-so-deftly between chasing her young son, running her own business, and fantasizing about sailing off to a deserted island (again). Her work has appeared in Scary Mommy, Outside, Backpacker, and several travel magazines.

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