When you’re pregnant, it might seem like it would be easier to simply hole up at home for 40 weeks. With all of the warnings about potential dangers to you and your baby, guidelines for activities and restrictions on what you can eat and drink, the notion of traveling anywhere is often met with “Is that really a good idea?”
The truth is that for most pregnant women, it’s perfectly safe to travel during pregnancy, even by air. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology notes that in most cases, pregnant women can travel well into their third trimester. But before you jet off on that relaxing “babymoon” trip, there are a few important points to keep in mind.
Before you plan any trip, you should talk with your obstetrician to confirm that you can safely travel and to determine whether you need to take any special precautions.Women with high-risk pregnancies are generally cautioned against going too far from home at any point during their gestation, while all pregnant women should avoid traveling after 36 weeks. In fact, most airlines prohibit women from travelling domestically within four weeks of their due date; international travel is prohibited after 32 weeks. The best time to fly is usually during the second trimester. In most cases, morning sickness will have abated by then, and you won’t be as easily fatigued as you will be during the third trimester.
Booking Your Flight
If you’ve ever wanted to upgrade to business or first class when you fly — if you can afford it — now is the time to splurge. If upgrading your class isn’t an option, consider spending a little more to reserve a premium seat with a little more legroom. In general, it’s best to sit closer to the front of the plane, where there is better air circulation. Keep in mind that pregnant women are prohibited from sitting in exit rows. Whether you choose a window or aisle seat is up to you; some people prefer the window in order to reduce queasiness, while an aisle seat provides easier access to the restroom — always a necessity for a pregnant woman. If you book a last-minute flight and the ideal seat is no longer available, talk with the gate attendant when you check in to determine whether you can be reassigned. Often, other passengers will be more than happy to trade seats with you.
Regardless of where your seat is located, you can stay comfortable even on a long flight. The most important thing to remember is to drink plenty of water. Air travel is dehydrating to the average traveler, and even more so to pregnant women. Avoid caffeine, as it has a diuretic effect that can increase dehydration. Airplane air can also cause your nasal passages to feel dry and uncomfortable, so carry a small bottle of saline spray to use every so often to keep them moist and avoid a congested feeling.
Travelling at high altitudes can also cause extreme swelling in your feet and ankles. In fact, on long flights (four hours or longer), your feet can swell as much as a whole shoe size or more. You can help alleviate the swelling by keeping your feet elevated as much as possible, doing simple stretches while you’re seated and walking around as much as possible. Try to take a stroll up and down the aisle every 30 minutes or so, as long as there isn’t any turbulence that could throw you off balance. In any case, bring along a pair of slippers or sandals to wear if your shoes become uncomfortable during the trip. You can also stay comfortable in your seat by bringing along a pillow to support your lower back and by wearing comfortable, loose fitting clothing. A dress or skirt with an elastic waist is your best bet, as it won’t pinch or constrict blood flow and will be easier to maneuver on your many trips to the restroom.
Ask for Assistance
Many airlines, and your fellow passengers, will be very accommodating and willing to help you out, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it. For example, you should avoid trying to lift heavy luggage or putting your bags in the overhead bin yourself. Ask for help so you can avoid straining or pulling your muscles. Carry some snacks from home to ensure that you have something good to eat, but if you start to feel queasy or ill, let the flight attendant know. Chances are the plane crew will have some ideas on how to help you feel better.
Whether you are jetting away for one last child-free vacation or travelling for business, flying while you are pregnant is generally safe, and with a few adjustments, not terribly uncomfortable. So check with your doctor and then book that trip, because next time you’ll be flying with a baby.
About the Author: Blogger Meghan Siller is the mother of three and has flown during all of her pregnancies