Congratulations Mrs Traveller, you are pregnant! When I found out I was pregnant I immediately thought of celebrating by going on a trip as a gift to myself. And as excited as I was for what was going to happen to me, I didn’t want nausea or any other discomforts to ruin the trip, so I asked my doctor to explain to me if it was safe to fly while I was pregnant.
Pregnancy can be a very exciting time in your life, but it can also bring a few challenges. One of the biggest is flying while pregnant. You want to make sure you are safe and comfortable during your air travel, so here are some tips and some essentials to bring along.
However, before we get to my tips, I would like to point out that every woman goes through pregnancy differently and before any trip to avoid any complications, I suggest you obviously consult your gynecologist.
Is it safe to travel by plane during pregnancy?
Yes, it is, as long as your gynaecologist has examined you and has judged that there will be no complications. You may need to avoid travelling while pregnant if you have a history of unsuccessful pregnancies, complications such as diabetes or other problems. Even if you do get clearance, there are certain things to follow for a safe, risk-free and comfortable trip, as you will read below.
Can I travel for the first 12 weeks by plane?
With your doctor’s approval, yes you can, but you may not want to. Morning sickness can make you anxious about the flight being unpleasant. For this reason, many women opt for the second trimester, where there is more energy and comfort.
Can I fly in the third trimester?
It depends on the airline and where you are going. Most domestic airlines will ask you if you are in the last month of your pregnancy. Some international airlines will not let you fly after 28 weeks. Talk to your doctor and check with your airline everything about flying while pregnant before you plan your trip.
The essentials before the trip
Priority boarding (and aisle seating!)
Did you know that when flying during pregnancy, most airlines will give you priority boarding?! You’ll avoid standing in the queue so take advantage of this to give you more time to get settled.
On the second part of that: make sure you have an aisle seat booked! As your pregnancy progresses, you will start to go to the toilet much more often and also become increasingly uncomfortable. The aisle seat gives you easy access when you need to get up to use the toilet or stretch your legs. Getting up and walking frequently is important, especially on a long-haul flight, because pregnant women are more prone to thrombosis.
List of local hospitals
Make a note of the emergency care facilities and local hospitals in the places you are travelling to. It is important to have their contact details so that you are prepared in case of an emergency. Every pregnancy is different and you won’t want to stress out trying to find a hospital or health centre in the middle of an emergency.
Don’t forget to take any prescription medicine you are taking with you. You can also take some of your doctor’s recommended medicine for nausea and constipation if you feel you may need it. It is equally important not to forget the daily vitamins/iron/magnesium that your doctor has recommended.
Although it may not even be on your mind right now, it’s important to check exactly what your health insurance covers. In case of an emergency or premature birth when you are travelling, you need to know at your destination if your insurance covers childbirth expenses and anything else you may need. Also, before you fly we suggest you think about travel insurance, as the costs of a trip that may be cancelled are covered.
At the airport
Avoid the security scanner (if possible)
While airport security scanning technology is considered safe during pregnancy, some women still feel a little nervous about going through the scanners while pregnant. If you don’t feel comfortable going through the scanners, you can simply request an alternative security check when it’s your turn in line.
It almost goes without saying that to be comfortable while travelling, you need to wear comfortable clothes. I suggest avoiding tight ones or ones that you simply feel don’t “fit” you well. A loose long dress, leggings and a loose blouse, a warm cardigan or whatever makes you feel comfortable in your movements.
Also important are the shoes! On the way to your gate, in the queues, you may have to wait to have your documents checked and generally for as many times as you need to walk, you will want to have stable footwear. On my first trip, I chose to wear sneakers with an anatomical sole, and on my second trip when my feet were already swollen I chose those sandals that were so light and loose, I ended up wearing only those until the day I gave birth.
Show that you are pregnant
It might be one of the few times you can take advantage of your situation and enjoy the perks of a belly. Sometimes at airports, the queues for check-in, security, at the gate and boarding the aircraft can seem endless, but also tedious. Especially for a pregnant woman, standing up for so many hours is a big hassle.
But don’t be shy about talking to the people in front of you to give you their turn, or to an airport employee to get you to the front. I remember being embarrassed to speak up and saying I was okay, and ending up in my seat on the plane with back discomfort that made the trip much more difficult.
During the flight
A lot of water
The first tip when flying while pregnant is to drink plenty of water. Even if you don’t drink water, at least have a cool drink. Hydration when travelling is always important, but flying during pregnancy is even more essential. Because your body is working so hard to grow a baby, creating fluids for it is often greater than water intake. This can lead to dehydration, which is not good for an expectant mom. If you add the plane’s dry air, trust me, water will be your best friend during the flight.
The best and greenest way to deal with the water situation on your flight (and throughout your trip) is to bring a stainless steel water bottle with you, which you can fill up at the airport. This saves you from buying an expensive plastic bottle and is more durable (and environmentally/health friendly) for reuse.
Tension and Movement
Not only on the plane, but throughout pregnancy, it is important to move and stretch your ankles and feet. During pregnancy, you are at a higher risk of developing a blood clot and one of the best ways to prevent this is to move constantly. It is best to walk at least every hour and in between it can be helpful to stretch your legs, do circular ankle movements etc.
Have a great time!
Pregnant women travel all the time! Although it may be less comfortable and require more planning, you can have a great trip and it’s important to have as much fun as possible. After all, stress is not good for you or your baby!