3 Tips for Flying While Pregnant
You’re pregnant and may be ready for one last trip to the beach, traveling for business or simply want to visit family before the little one arrives. You may be wondering about the potential risks, but if you have a normal low-risk pregnancy, there are very few reasons not to go. Your goal is to stay healthy and comfortable. Before you book, check out these top 3 tips for flying while pregnant.
1. Timing matters
Talk to your OB or midwife first
Even if you have a normal pregnancy, some doctors generally don’t want you to fly after your 36th week of pregnancy (according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) or if you're carrying multiples, where the cut-off is 32 weeks. You may be restricted even earlier if you have potential complications, are high-risk or have other health conditions.
Get recommendations for hospitals where you're going, and check to see how your insurance would handle it if the need arises. This printable emergency contact information sheet for pregnant travelers is a smart thing to have. Keep one copy on your person and give the other to your travel companion.
Check with the airlines
Whether you get the green light might also depend on if your flight is domestic or international, approaching due date and whether you need a note from your doctor approving the trip. Although there's no law prohibiting flying in the third trimester of pregnancy (it’s a myth), each airline has their own rules, so be sure to contact them directly before booking.
Consider your comfort level
What stage of pregnancy you're in is also a factor to consider. Your first trimester may be exhausting and include morning sickness, which can leave you miserable on the plan and off. Often the second trimester (weeks 14-27) may be the most comfortable for traveling while pregnant. The second trimester typically brings with it more energy, less nausea (hopefully) and the risk of miscarriage is significantly lower. You'll also have more stamina than later in the pregnancy, Experts also suggest you travel with another person. It can be more fun and adds peace of mind if a problem did arise.
2. Be prepared — at the airport and in the air
Take plenty of time and arrive at the airport early so you’re not stressed. The full-body security scans, according to the TSA, are safe for all. If you’re nervous about it though, ask your doctor’s opinion. However, know you do have the right to request an alternative screening method. Plan to wear slip-on shoes and reduce items you’ll have to remove, this way you can breeze through security, visit the bathroom and get to relaxing sooner.
Choose the right seat
Book early so you can secure a comfortable seat near the front, which seems to have better airflow. Getting on and off the plane will be much easier and quicker too. Go for the aisle seat (not on an exit row) so you can make those all-too-often trips to the bathroom. While seated, be sure to wear the seatbelt below your belly and keep your essentials handy.
Dress in layers
When pregnant, your body doesn’t regulate temperature quite as efficiently. Dress in layers so you can shed them when overheated (hot flash anyone?) and put a sweater in your carry-on for those moments when you’re cold. To prevent DVT while flying pregnant, try to move and stretch as much as you can to keep the blood flowing. Walk the aisle, flex your calf muscles often and if possible, put your feet up. Compression socks also help to lower DVT risk and reduce swelling.
Pack healthy snacks
When hunger (or nausea) strikes, you’ll need your snacks at the ready, This includes staying hydrated. If you’re still battling morning sickness, pack some ginger candies, crackers or whatever else helps calm your stomach. Think healthy, fiber-rich, energy-boosting options.
3. During and after your trip
Be kind to yourself
Be careful to take it easy while traveling pregnant, Don’t plan to be on the go 24/7. Relax, get the sleep you need and de-stress. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or for what you need; whether lifting your bag, needing a pillow or taking a break to sit down.
Choose your destination wisely
Ask yourself if this trip is something you can really enjoy while pregnant. Are your goals for this trip compatible with pregnancy? (i.e. hang gliding vs walking by the ocean) Will you be able to enjoy yourself, stay safe and not be exhausted when you come home? Think conservatively and use common sense when choosing activities.
After trip recovery
So often we focus on the trip itself and forget that real life awaits us when we get home. Depending on where you go, you may be dealing with jet-lag on top of normal pregnancy tiredness. Build in time after your trip to fully recover before jumping back into your normal routine. Once you have your baby in your arms, your definition of normal routine will most certainly change.
You’ve done your homework, so now it’s time to get busy planning your vacation! Wherever you decide to go, remember these three goals: to stay healthy, rested and comfortable. You’re vacationing for two after all!
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