The first thing many expecting mothers may now be asking themselves is: should I fly while pregnant? And if so, will I want to? The answer is, yes you absolutely can board a plane while carrying your little bundle of joy, but this is largely dependent on how comfortable you feel and, most importantly, whether you have the medical green light from your physician. We don’t need to tell you that pregnancy comes with all sorts of challenges, most of which that might make air travel sound less appealing than usual.
Bouts of nausea and morning sickness are obviously a big factor in mom-to-be’s feeling put off by plane travel since turbulence is going to be no friend of a pregnant woman! But depending on where you are at your stage of pregnancy (and assuming it’s not too close to your actual due date!), that pregnant air travel can be a simple and comfortable undertaking, as long as you come well-prepared so that you’re taking good care of yourself and your little one. Whether, like some expectant moms, you’re planning a cute babymoon getaway with your partner or you’re headed out on a girly city break to celebrate an awesome baby shower with your besties, being pregnant should not stop you from traveling by plane. For extra peace of mind, just be sure to read through some of these tips first.
20 Find Out If You Can Actually Fly
First things first. As a pregnant woman, find out whether or not you can fly depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy. Your doctor, for instance, may advise against flying or traveling altogether. So before you invest in a new wardrobe of maternity beach gear, it’s important to take everything into consideration first for your safety and of course, the safety and well-being of the little one inside you! Be sure to get in touch with your local physician and let them know of your intention to travel. Your doctor or midwife may then be able to do a risk assessment to put your mind fully at ease.
For the most part, flying while pregnant is absolutely fine. It is only when moms-to-be are looking to fly well into their third and final trimester (before the 29-week mark) that you may run into some problems,
not least with your doctor, but often with the actual airline itself as they won’t be prepared to risk you going into labor at 30,000 feet (as cool as the story might be later!). Bottom line: make sure you have the all clear to fly from your personal doctor and that you feel comfortable enough in yourself to travel.
19 Be Sure To (Always) Stay Hydrated - 2 To 3 Liters If You’re Traveling For A 24-Hour Period
We’re sure you get daily lectures about the importance of drinking water from your mom, your doctor, and your partner, so sorry to do this but you best believe we’re going to remind you too—hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Staying fairly hydrated is a priority for most plane travelers since the air inside a plane cabin is typically drier than most other environments, so for a pregnant woman, keeping your H2O levels topped up is especially important. Not least because dehydration can put you at risk of dizzy spells, increased nausea, and possibly even fainting. Not a nice prospect.
Fortunately, it’s super easy to avoid risking your health like this by drinking near to your body weight in water (we’re not kidding). The well-loved online community Mumsnet.com recommends what most doctors will likely tell you anyway, and that’s to bring on at least a liter of water for a short haul flight (2 to 3 liters if you’re traveling for a 24-hour period). Not only will all this extra water kick cabin dehydration clear out of the park, but it will also ensure plenty of bathroom trips, forcing you to stretch your legs and keep that all-important blood flowing while you go!
18 Traveling Long Distance? Split The Journey In Two
A lot of the time, being pregnant can make you feel as if you are constantly prioritizing comfort and well-being over anything else, and while this is a good thing, it shouldn’t mean you have to compromise something like a holiday destination if this is where you (and a medical professional) believe you are fit to travel to. Yes, in an ideal world, every flight would be a short haul one, but the reality is that air travel can be a long and boring affair. On top of this, you now have carry-on luggage of a very important kind and it can quickly make a long haul flight even more of a hellish ordeal.
It needn’t be, though! Direct flights may be more convenient. But if you’d rather not compromise a great babymoon destination, then you can always consider splitting your journey into two.
This way, you get a chance to get out, stretch your legs, and give yourself a chance to recharge and rest. In some cases, splitting your plane fare into two separate journeys may even save you a few dollars too, so traveling pregnant can have its perks!
If you want to avoid the hassle of a long and tiring flight but don’t want to simply settle for a domestic trip, opt for booking yourself two short flights instead.
17 Think About Your Pre-Board Diet (And Avoid Salty Foods)
Knowing you’re going to be on a plane for several hours, it’s important to be aware of what you’ll be putting into your body before you fly. As you would if you were headed out on a date or a job interview, there are certain foods that are going to make you feel worse, less sharp, and generally sluggish. And the same definitely applies if you happen to be flying while pregnant. First things first, avoid salty foods like the plague before your flight.
Salty snacks and foods not only cause bloat, but they will add to the discomfort caused by fluid retention in your already swollen ankles and feet, so salt-rich foods are a definite no-no both before and during your flight. So, don’t give in to the in-flight pretzels!
Depending on the time of day you fly, it might be tempting to have a convenient greasy burger for lunch in the airport or a similar quick fix, but this decision may come back to haunt you once you’re seated on the plane for hours on end (as it may not be the only seat on the plane you occupy for hours on end, if you catch our drift…). If you know you’ll be eating a big meal shortly before your flight like breakfast or a big lunch in preparation for a long evening flight, stick with lighter options such as salads, fresh veg, and citrus fruits that are packed with anti-inflammation properties and anti-bloat goodness. If you are still peckish on your flight (you’re only human), that’s what healthy cereal bars and dried fruit mixes in your hand luggage are for!
16 Let The Airline Know You’re Pregnant, Even If You're Not Showing
Unless you happen to be in your third trimester and visibly ready to pop, not all pregnant women are going to show. But this doesn’t mean that women in the earlier stages of pregnancy shouldn’t have their comfort and well-being considered too. Make sure to tell your airline company beforehand that you are pregnant because there will always be measures they can take to accommodate you better to ensure the most comfortable flight possible. Whether you’re in your first few weeks of pregnancy or coming up to your last, your health (and your bundle, especially!) is always going to be a priority.
In your first trimester of pregnancy especially, it’s important to let the airline company know well in advance to avoid any awkward altercations (if any) later on. If you arrive at the gate, for example, your lack of an obvious bump may give a rude staff member a reason to refuse you extra help or comfort measures. Either way, perhaps make sure you have your latest scan on hand with you or any medical notes to prove you’re entitled to board and leave the plane earlier than others if this makes you feel more comfortable.
15 Reserve An Aisle Seat For Quick Exits (And Toilet Visits!)
Picking the comfiest seat anywhere you go is a no-brainer when you’re pregnant. At home, you’ll likely opt for the super squishy beanbag over the hard leather chesterfield and you should be allowed to stay comfortable wherever you go. For that reason, you will want to make sure you book an aisle seat on the plane. If you’re the type of traveler who loves to lose yourself in the view from your plane window, learn to live without it once you have your baby bump on board. Sitting in the window seat can make you feel all cozy and snuggly in the corner, but with your now-added discomfort and tendency to pee more frequently, anything other than the aisle seat becomes real annoying real fast.
Added to the fact that your baby will be treating your bladder like a squeeze toy, you may need to make a heck of a lot of bathroom trips from doing your best to stay hydrated on the plane too. And when you gotta go, it’s not so fun to keep asking your fellow passengers to get up for you there and back. An aisle seat will not only make a quick dash to the bathroom a lot easier to deal with, but will provide that glorious and rare luxury for most plane travelers—leg room! You can stretch out into the aisle as often as you need to because who’s going to get mad? You’re with child here!
14 Keep Active While On Board
At the end of the day, a plane isn’t a gymnasium—it’s a pretty restrictive place to get active! But any small amount of movement you can do while pregnant (not necessarily full-on ‘exercise’) may help you to feel content and comfortable. It will as be good for your health since
pregnant women are at a greater risk of developing DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) while flying, so moving about in the plane will ensure to keep your blood circulation going and fend off the chances of developing nasty clots. For times when you don’t always feel like strolling up and down the aisles, a pair of maternity compression stockings will see to it that your circulation stays flowing.
Most long-haul travelers will remove flight compression socks and stockings once they land, but to absolutely be on the safe side, pregnant women should ideally put the stockings on from the morning of their flight right up until going to bed that night. Anything from moving your legs and ankles while in your seat to walking along the aisle is a great way to keep your circulation going, as long as if you feel well to do so (and airline staff says it’s safe).
13 Take All Prenatal Medical Notes/Info With You (You Just Never Know...)
Okay, so we know that taking an awesome trip away is probably to take your mind off being pregnant in the first place. However, it’s only common sense to make sure you have all of your most up-to-date prenatal medical records with you when you travel as you never know when these will come in useful for something. As boring as it sounds, it will put your mind at rest (not to mention your partner’s too!) if you are traveling with your eyes open when it comes to your pregnancy health overseas, and if this means packing a complete history of your doctor’s notes since conception, then so be it.
Nothing is ever guaranteed during pregnancy, and in the event that you go into labor or may simply require basic medical treatment while in your destination, it will make things so much easier if an overseas doctor–or even just one in another state–can have a full understanding of your unique medical history to ensure that they can treat you and your baby in the best way. Keeping all your medical notes and info together in one place also gives you the perfect excuse to invest in some gorgeous new stationery and notebooks to keep all this info simple to access when the time comes!
12 Flying During Your Second Trimester Is Usually The Best Time - Usually Around 13 To 27 Weeks
We appreciate that every woman has a different experience during their pregnancy, but generally, the second trimester of pregnancy (usually around 13 to 27 weeks) is often when most women will be at their most comfortable.
Any nausea experienced in the earlier stages of pregnancy will have eased by this stage, and it is also the perfect pregnancy sweet spot before you start to get too big and too uncomfortable to the point that every little thing feels like a chore.
As always, though, don’t take our word for it that you will feel super comfy and travel-ready in your second trimester, so be sure to talk with your physician about how you feel prior to booking your flight.
The California-based OB-GYN, Dr. Aron Schuftan, has recommended that the best time to make travel plans is during the 20 to 30-week mark of your pregnancy. In other words, slap bang in the middle of your second trimester. For women experiencing higher-risk pregnancies such as women suffering severe morning sickness (Hyperemesis Gravidarum), air travel may be discouraged altogether regardless of how early they are into their pregnancy. Assuming you have experienced a relatively healthy and textbook pregnancy thus far, however, the perfect time to fly is anytime up until a month before your due date.
11 Don’t Be Afraid To Accept The Help (And Be The Center Of Attention)
As much as you may be tired of hearing the cliché (especially when you’ve had a morning spent hovering over the toilet bowl and generally feeling uncomfortable), pregnant women really do have an aura about them which makes us want to be kinder around them so enjoy the fuss and let people help you out when you need it! Naturally, as your bump grows bigger and more noticeable, you might find yourself the center of attention when you travel, including everyone from the airline staff and fellow passengers on the plane to the hotel attendants once you arrive in your destination.
People may even address your bump before they address your face, and if they’re decent strangers, they will almost always make allowances for pregnant women, whether it’s helping with your bags or giving up their seat for you on buses and crowded places. Fun fact: In Mediterranean countries, pregnant women are adored and fawned over and strangers are notoriously super friendly. (Perhaps we’ve swayed your decision on your babymoon destination!) So, don’t feel self-conscious about sporting your bump around on your travels. Pregnancy opens up a world of perks, so relish all the help and kindness you can from strangers!
10 Book In-Flight Meals Beforehand To Avoid Nausea Triggers
As well as ensuring that you don’t put any unhealthy foods in your belly before your flight, you’ll want to make sure that the food you eat on the actual flight itself is good for you too. Depending on how long your flight is, you may want to eat an in-flight meal on top of the snacks you brought from home (because, let’s face it, it’s nice to have some variety on a long-haul flight). If this is the case, it’s a good idea to check out your airline’s specific meal options when booking your flight to see what takes your fancy. In some cases, the airline company may be able to accommodate you if you let them know you are pregnant and can only eat certain foods that don’t trigger nausea or something.
Curbing feelings of nausea is understandably a big thing throughout your pregnancy as certain smells and flavors you may have once adored can suddenly turn you green around the gills.
Almost every airline around offers vegetarian meal options and simple minimal dishes that may be suitable for overly sensitive taste buds, so it’s worth seeing what’s on the menu in advance. If all else fails and your sensitivity to food is making you more and more nauseous, stick with what you know by bringing on your own mild snacks in your carry-on luggage.
Things like dried fruit, crackers, and granola bars are a great way to keep nausea at bay without risking an empty stomach (when feelings of sickness can often be at their worst).
9 Pack A Sensible, Comfortable Wardrobe
It goes without saying that every pregnant woman wants to feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible, so you should definitely make sure that your suitcase reflects this too. If your signature look before your bump arrived was heels and heavy statement jewelry, this may not do you any favors now and is certainly no fun to wear on a long-haul flight. If you feel comfy and confident sporting your summer wedges on the beach, then great! But don’t forget to look after your poor feet (and posture) by packing a few ballet flats and comfy sneakers along for the ride too. The same goes for your clothing. Presuming you’re headed to a warm holiday destination, swap out your go-to designer jeans for some floaty and oh so pretty kaftans and maxi skirts.
The trend for boho-style skirts and dresses means that slouchy, airy, and yes, comfy pieces needn’t be the enemy of proud fashionistas everywhere. Hard though it may be to feel it when you’re suffering morning sickness and mood swings, remember that you’re aglow with new life. So, as tempted as you might be to hide it under a sexy summer wardrobe, embracing your bump is the best thing you can do to stay beautiful (and actually feel comfortable while flaunting it!).
8 Avoid Destinations That Require Vaccinations
While it sucks to limit your horizons when it comes to planning a well-earned vacation, extra care needs to be taken when you decide where you want your destination to be. And unfortunately for all the wanderlust moms to be reading this, any countries that require you to have a vaccination before entering is kind of an alarm bell during pregnancy. In places where you are at risk of catching mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria or the zika virus, it is often not worth taking the risk, and depending on your immune system, the vaccine itself may not be entirely safe for you or your baby.
Of course, all pregnant women need a number of vaccinations at home for the health of their baby anyway such as the flu shot and Tdap to combat whooping cough, so vaccines are definitely something new mothers will need, but ones overseas can be less controlled and pose an unnecessary risk to mother and baby. At the end of the day, a thorough assessment of your immunization levels and travel plans with your doctor will give you all the info you need as to whether travel is advised, so just make sure you have all the facts before taking what could be a considerable risk to your health (and therefore your baby’s).
7 Slow Down, Take It Easy!
Guess what? Holidays are first and foremost for chilling, so a holiday according to a pregnant woman? The greatest excuse for her to spend even more time chilling on the sun longer, kicking back by the pool and enjoying dreamy afternoons in the sunshine doing close to absolutely nothing. Bliss! The old wanderlust traveler in you might have previously enjoyed a mix of surfboarding or mountain biking in all the best local hotspots, so
embrace (don’t despair) at the idea of swapping your wheels and helmet for a good book, a hammock, and the simple pleasures of feeling the sand between your toes.
And if you are on the lookout for more active ways of relaxing on vacay while you’re pregnant, swimming a few gentle lengths of your hotel pool can be a good choice or perhaps sharing leisurely strolls around town for the day and taking your time to browse local shops and cafes like you never did before. The crazy adventure holidays will come back to you in the future when you perhaps have a family of 3 or 4 to spend the days with, so make the most of things and take your time in your favorite destination while it lasts!
6 If Possible, Book A Refundable Trip (And Pay The Little Extra)
It’s so important to be more flexible with your travel plans when you’re pregnant for the simple reason that anything could happen. And when we say ‘anything’, this could range from suffering from a new wave of nausea out of the blue and long after the normal period of morning sickness to actually going into labor while overseas (or perhaps even on the flight itself!). Forgive us if we’ve freaked you out, but
depending on what stage you’re at in your pregnancy, preparing for certain ‘what if?’ scenarios is a smarter way to travel in the long run. And one thing to make unexpected scenarios less of a pain, in the long run, is to try and make the holiday a refundable one.
When booking your babymoon trip, it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of snapping up the perfect place for a bargain price, but sometimes, the best deals around can also come with a sizable headache that you may not normally consider—the fact that the trip can't be refunded under any circumstances. Since pregnancy can be an unpredictable time, health complications, or early labor could kill your trip before it even starts, so adding hundreds of wasted dollars on to your worries is not going to be such a fun souvenir of your time away. Be smart and look out for the chance to book a refundable holiday package.
5 Pack Travel Comforts In Your Carry-On Luggage
Whether you’re on a short or long-haul flight, air travel is not always the comfiest way to travel for hours at a time. And with all the changes in the body that come with being pregnant, this sense of discomfort and irritability while flying is only going to increase. Make sure it’s not a flight from hell by ensuring your carry-on luggage is well-stocked with all the little comforts and practical items that are going to make the flight more than bearable for you.
A good place to start is with a super cozy neck pillow (and not just the first one you find at your local mall either). Standard travel pillows in the upside down ‘U’ shape may do for some travelers, but with all the new achy muscles pregnant women have to contend with, pillows with more support and versatility are a better choice. We’d recommend something like the ‘BCozzy’ pillow which has a long snake design so you can sleep comfortably in different positions and has a flat back so as to not push your neck forward. Other than cozy neck pillows, another travel comfort must while pregnant is wearing clothes made of stretchy jersey material on the flight. Looser-fitting leggings and tops are a godsend while traveling long distances. Traveling late into your pregnancy? Things like a ‘bump band’ can provide extra support and is super lightweight, so it’s easy to fold into a tiny size to sit nicely in your hand luggage.
4 Wear Sea-Bands To Prevent Nausea
As we mentioned earlier, nausea and bouts of morning sickness can be a big deciding factor for pregnant women when it comes to hopping on a plane. Not least because we’ve all heard stories of nightmare turbulence, but because the simple sensations of taking off and landing can cause some flyers to feel a little iffy...whether they’re pregnant or not! It doesn’t help that the air inside the plane cabin is fairly dry and dehydrating, not to mention the re-circulation of air. It’s easy to assume air travel is too unpleasant during pregnancy, but your nausea needn’t get in the way of an important pre-birth trip.
To combat travel sickness, normal over-the-counter sickness tablets that contain Dimenhydrinate or Diphenhydramine will be safe options as these are normally low-risk medications for pregnant women.
To be sure, always consult your own doctor before taking the above, and if you don’t like the idea of treating your travel nausea in tablet form, then sea-bands worn on the wrist are a great drug-free option. These apply light pressure on the P6 (or acupressure point of your wrist) to help relieve the symptoms of nausea. Sea-bands are washable and reusable, making it a far cheaper and convenient alternative to popping nausea pills.
3 Make A Pregnancy Packing Checklist
It’s important to pack well for any trip away, but carrying another life form inside you obviously means that a few more things need to be considered. With everything your doctors and your prenatal guidebooks have been telling you about pregnancy, the idea of something a trivial as packing your travel bags can suddenly seem a little overwhelming, especially if you’re going to a be a first-time mom. But this needn’t be the case. At the end of the day, you know yourself and your body best to assess how the past few weeks and months of your pregnancy have been for you and simply consider what it is you wouldn’t want to be without for a couple of days and go from there.
To help make the pregnancy packing a little easier on you, get a friend or partner to help and make sure you’re not doing medium to heavy lifting of any kind! Also, get a pregnancy packing checklist printed out. For the best ones, we recommend lists by thebump.com or on forums with suggestions by real moms. To get you started, most lists will suggest things like anti-nausea meds, contact details for your local personal doctor, anti-bac hand gel, and a lumbar pillow for the plane, etc.
2 Wear Layers On The Plane To Better Control Your Temperature
Bringing lots of layers with you on a flight is a good rule of thumb for any passenger, as the cabin can sometimes be colder or hotter than you might have anticipated due to long waiting times on the runway or the combined body heat of every passenger as they fumble to retrieve something in their overhead luggage. As for pregnant women?
Body temperature can fluctuate all the time with all the hormones and changes racing through your body and you quickly become more sensitive to temperature changes in your environment. For that reason, you best make sure you have plenty of layers on to remove (or wrap up in) as you please.
A good idea for a simple and practical plane outfit when pregnant is a comfortable tank top or vest as your base layer, followed by a lightweight tee and a pullover. In place of something heavy like a pullover or jacket, a shawl or pashmina can be a good layering item if you know you always tend to be hotter than you are cold. Something as light as a shawl can take the chilly edge off without overheating you and it can be easily folded away in your carry-on luggage once you’re done too. Bonus!
1 Prepare In Advance For Potential Health Risks
Lastly, all you really need to know is that as with most forms of travel, flying can come with some health risks during pregnancy, and while rare, it’s never a bad idea to over-prepare for your first flight as a mom-to-be and anticipate every eventuality. Not only will this put you and your partner’s mind at ease for your safety and the baby’s, it will hopefully make you more confident about flying pregnant in the future too. So what do we mean by potential health risks? As with most of the precautions mentioned previously, anything that could cause harm or worsen your everyday symptoms if left untreated.
As mentioned before, Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) for example, is something that must be treated and alleviated by wearing flight socks. Failure to do so not only risks developing blood clots in your body but may also be detrimental to the baby. Other more overlooked flight risks include ignored jetlag and pulled ligaments from carrying heavy luggage. Jetlag is something most of us self-medicate with coffee, but for pregnant women who already experience fatigue,
it’s vital to get adequate rest and recovery once you land.
As for risking pulled ligaments, it’s an obvious but commonly overlooked issue that pregnant women (even ones traveling alone) should not be made to carry heavy luggage. Help is usually on hand by staff members at airports and once on the plane, so take care of yourself and your baby and don’t be afraid to ask for it.