7 Need-to-Know Tips for Flying While Pregnant
Thinking of flying while pregnant? With a bit of prep, it’s less stressful than it sounds. In fact, for many first-time parents, the months before birth are their last chance to have a relatively relaxing couples or solo getaway.
Whether you’re booking a babymoon or business trip, here’s everything you need to know for a safe, comfortable flight while pregnant:
Know the best time to fly when pregnant:
Although women with low-risk pregnancies can technically fly at any trimester, the second trimester is usually ideal. By then, your first-trimester morning sickness is likely a thing of the past, while third-trimester nesting instincts haven’t fully kicked in. So if possible, plan to travel during those 14-ish weeks.
Consider premiums when booking your flight:
No matter when you decide to fly, it’s worth the extra charge (if any) to snag an aisle row. In addition to your normal bladder pressure, you’ll also need to boost your water intake to counterbalance the dehydrating effects of plane travel. In other words, trips to the powder room will definitely be necessary.
Speaking of extra charges, it’s worth considering ticket insurance. You never know when any pregnancy-related nausea or illness might pop up, so it’s helpful to have backup in case you need to alter your plans. (This is also a possibility when you book through certain credit card companies – check your bank’s policy.)
Flying long distance? See if connecting flights are a viable option. Though it’ll take longer than a direct flight, more stops mean more opportunities to stretch and have an actual meal.
Ask your doctor for any recommendations;
It’s always good to call or visit your obstetrician to let her know that you’re traveling. Now’s also the time to request a referral for a hospital or specialist in your destination, in the off chance something happens while you’re away.
While you’re at it, run your destination past your doctor – she might be able to provide site-specific insight. For example, destinations with super high altitudes pose certain threats, and may aggravate morning sickness nausea. The same is true of extreme heat. If you’re traveling to either extremity, supplement with plenty of water to avoid dehydration as your body adjusts. What might have been mostly inconvenience in the past (e.g., travelers’ diarrhea, vomiting) can now cause more serious concerns for you and your baby-to-be. Ask your doctor whether she recommends packing an over-the-counter antidiarrheal med, like Imodium, just in case.
If you do plan to fly late in your third trimester, check your airline’s policy. The closer you are to your due date, the more likely it is that you’ll need a doctor’s note to board – if so, now’s your chance to get one.
Maximum comfort on the plane goes a long way:
Planes are known for many things, but comfort is not one of them. Double up your packing game to make the flight as enjoyable as possible.
Prep your own healthy snacks, like fresh fruits and veggies, hard-boiled eggs, or dried fruits and nuts. (Here’s a primer on what foods are and aren’t allowed through TSA security.) Bring a large refillable water bottle to the airport, since you won’t exactly be able to refill once you’re on the plane.
Pack a pillow in your carry-on – wedge pregnancy and lumbar pillows are both great for traveling. And bring an eye-mask to combat any inevitable fatigue.
Ready yourself against germs and nausea:
Since planes are notoriously dirty, and pregnancy ups your susceptibility, arm yourself against germs with a gentle hand sanitizer. Wipes are also quick fixes for cleaning arm rests and pull-down trays. Some women recommend wearing a surgical mask for absolute protection against transmissions of colds.
One great nausea deterrent is mint tea; pack some bags and ask the flight attendant to steep them. Or pick up ginger candy and sparkling mineral water at the airport. Essential oils work in a pinch, too – sniffing lavender, chamomile, peppermint, or ginger directly from the bottle often helps alleviate nausea.
Finally, if you’re checking luggage, keep all your necessities – like prenatal vitamins – in your carry-on. You never know when your luggage might get separated, and you don’t want to be stranded without your staples.
Wear a comfy, versatile outfit the day of travel:
Dress for a variety of temperatures, since your body regulates itself differently during pregnancy. Loose and flowy with layers (e.g., a maxi dress with a long sweater or wrap-around scarf) is a good template.
Also helpful during travel? Compression stockings – they boost circulation and prevent blood clots from forming.
Keep moving, but do so safely:
Make sure you’re taking opportunities to walk and stretch as often as possible – at the very least, get up and move around every two waking hours. In between stretching, keep your feet frequently elevated. In conjunction with your compression stockings, this movement and shifting of positions help to keep your blood flowing.
As you go through security, note that the TSA scanners are considered safe to use, but you’re also welcome to request a pat-down instead. Request a wheelchair if, at any point, you feel unable to stand or walk.
Once you’re boarded, buckle up: The ideal seat-belt positioning is just under your abdomen (i.e., across the thighs and below the belly). Request a belt extender if necessary.
When you land, an agent can help you get your luggage off the conveyor belt.
Relax and take your time:
You might find your traveling pace is slower than normal, but that’s to be expected – fatigue is common at any stage of pregnancy.
Consider booking a natal massage at your final destination to thank your body for its hard work. And do your best to take it easy – after all, you’re carrying precious cargo!