Flying while pregnant? Wonderful!
It’s going to be great, but there are just a few things you need to keep in mind before you embark on your flight.
For your convenience, this post has been broken down into two parts that are equally important if you are flying while pregnant:
- Helpful tips for flying while pregnant;
- General tips for traveling while pregnant.
Helpful Tips For Safe Flying While Pregnant
- Pick your travel time carefully. If you are traveling for business or other obligations, you possibly cannot control when you need to travel. However, be aware that if you are suffering from morning sickness, the first trimester sucks for traveling. The third trimester can be equally bad because you may be tired, uncomfortable and huge. However, if you are planning a babymoon, see why the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest traveling in your second trimester, between the 14th to 28th week of your pregnancy.
- Ask your airline about travel restrictions for pregnant women. Most airlines let you fly until 35 weeks, but that cutoff is earlier for international flights. Check before you make arrangements.
- Try to book an aisle seat. This is key. An aisle seat allows you to easily get up to use the bathroom and move around.
- Bring your own snacks and avoid foods that make you gassy. Keep in mind that air in your stomach expands at altitude.
- Flying is considered safe as long as you have a healthy pregnancy. Check with your doctor and try to get (1) a medical letter confirming that it’s OK for you to fly, and (2) your prenatal chart in case you have any issues at check-in. Carry both with you.
- Try to check-in online. By doing this, you can avoid a long ticket line.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration can reduce blood flow to your uterus.
- Carry hand sanitizer and wipes. Aircrafts can be dirty. Carry some in your purse so that you can reach them easily. You do not want to get sick while you are away from home.
- Avoid metal detectors. The Transportation Security Administration says that metal detectors and backscatter X-ray machines are safe for pregnant women. They may be right but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Be extra cautious and skip them altogether. Ask instead for a pat-down when going through security.
- Don’t wear your seatbelt directly over your belly. Instead, place it as low as you can near the hip. This helps prevent any pressure on your belly during turbulence.
- Pack medication for nausea, even if you don’t usually need it. You never know what your pregnant body will do! Check with your doctor to see what over-the-counter medicines are safe for you to take while pregnant. Pack it in your purse and have it ready, just in case.
- Avoid Non-Commercial airplanes. Commercial airlines have safe cabin pressure. However, unpressurized noncommercial airplanes may fly higher than 8,000 ft., which is not good when you are pregnant, particularly in the latter part of your pregnancy. Avoid them altogether.
- Move around. Don’t stay seated because being seated for a long time may cause blood clots, which can be dangerous. Your ob-gyn may advise you to move around because movement may prevent blood clots. Even if you’re tired or you don’t want to be a nag, get out of your seat and walk up and down the aisles for a while. This applies to travel by car and train too if you are pregnant.
- Travel insurance is a good idea, especially during pregnancy. Things could happen and it’s better knowing you won’t lose your money if you don’t make the trip.
- Be prepared to swell up. Many people swell during flights anyway, but it may be worse when you are pregnant. Compression socks may help you but check with your doctor if you are prone to swelling.
- Where possible, minimize travel time. Your pregnant body likely won’t do well on a trip that has layovers. Researchers also say that sitting for long periods could increase the risk of gestational diabetes in pregnant women. If you are on a long flight, be sure to get up every hour or so and move around.
- Plan for your own comfort. Airplanes are not known for being comfortable. Plan for this and pack the things that will allow you to be a little more comfortable, like a neck pillow, and eye mask, earplugs, etc.
- Dress comfortable for your flight, particularly if it’s going to be a long one. This is not the time for uncomfortable boots or high heels.
- If you generally suffer from blood clots, sickle cell anemia, or placental insufficiency, check with your doctor before you fly.
General Tips For Traveling While Pregnant
- Talk to your doctor before you commit to any pregnancy travel. Discuss your plans, activities, and location. To you, your plans may sound safe but to a medical professional, it may not be. Be safe and just run it by him/her.
- Do not consider traveling to places that have high risks of infection, like Zika. Do your research carefully before you commit.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You can get stunning shoes that are also comfortable.
- Arm yourself against germs – carry wipes and hand sanitizer wherever you go.
- Pack comfortable clothes and definitely avoid tight clothing. With some pregnancies, there are fairly dramatic swings from week to week or even from morning to night. You don’t want to be stuck with clothes that fit a week ago but are now too tight to get into. Pack accordingly.
- Choose comfort over fashion. Having said that, like with shoes, there are lots of adorable maternity outfits that are comfortable and cute.
- Use luggage with wheels. It makes life so much easier. You have enough to carry in your belly.
- Be careful what you eat, particularly while traveling to foreign countries where you may not be familiar with the cuisine. Eating certain foods like unpasteurized cheese, for example, can be harmful to your baby.
- Travel tends to dehydrate you and dehydration can cause false labor pains. Stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle with you and refill it as you empty it.
- Always have a few healthy snacks like nuts, fruit, dried fruit, crackers, etc. in your purse. Eating regularly will regulate your blood sugar.
- Pack for the season where you are traveling to. If you do plan to go to Cape Town, for example, keep in mind that their season is opposite to ours in the USA. That means – if it is winter in the USA, it is summer there.
- Carefully research your location and prepare for it. Will you need bug spray, will the sunscreen you have, be sufficient, is the water safe to drink? Consider these and other questions.
- Don’t forget to take your prenatal vitamins while you are on vacation. You are in a different environment and it’s easy to forget habits, but do try to stick to this habit.
- Pack a thermometer, just in case. If you develop a fever, you will want to know this early and get to the hospital.
- Don’t overfill your days with activities. Being pregnant takes a toll on your body. Don’t expect to be able to do things that you could do before your pregnancy.
- If you are traveling to foreign countries, be careful with electricity and appliances. The risk of electrical shocks, even minor ones, are higher in many foreign countries. You may feel silly for asking your partner to plug or unplug things, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Book flights and hotels that can be canceled or rescheduled. Things happen. You don’t want to lose your money in the event that you have to reschedule.
- If you are traveling for pleasure, take a camera. If you like writing, pack a journal too. It will likely be a while before you can go on vacation again so take advantage of this time and create memories in the form of photos, videos, journal entries and more.
- Be extra cautious when you are traveling to unfamiliar places – you don’t know the terrain. You are already slightly off balance because you are carrying an extra weight in your belly. Always remain aware of this and be careful climbing stairs or walking on uneven grounds to avoid slips and falls.
- Pregnant travel is not adventure travel – particularly not the kind of adventure (like trekking) where you put excessive stress on your body.
- Do not travel to remote areas where proper medical assistance may be difficult, or doctors don’t speak a language you understand.