Pregnancy can be an extremely stressful time. What used to be easy and mundane tasks can often turn into overwhelming and even nerve-wracking experiences. For instance, drinking coffee every morning is no longer a simple, “Yes, please.” And though you used to love intense workouts, you might have to give them a second thought when you’re expecting. All of a sudden, it can feel like the whole world around you is a perilous place—and you will do anything and everything you can to keep that little bump in your belly safe.
Of course, one example of something which might have seemed simple—and now is far from the truth—is flying. Flying when expecting can not only be challenging, but even potentially unsafe. Here are some tips for what you need to know.
First: let’s ease your mind. Generally speaking, commercial air travel is safe before week 36 of pregnancy, according to Mayo Clinic. Which means if you’re planning that trip across country for the holidays, don’t worry about how you’re going to travel without an airplane. Dr. Sara Kayat, a practicing GP with Gray’s Inn Medical Practice, says:
“It is generally considered safe to fly in pregnancy. But it is worth remembering that in the first trimester pregnant women are often nauseous, exhausted and at a higher risk of miscarriage. So having home comforts during those times are often what’s needed, rather than stressing about navigating an airport and cramming yourself on a flight.”
Additionally, every woman’s pregnancy is different. This means while a woman with a relatively smooth pregnancy might have no problems flying, a woman with more pregnancy complications could have a very difficult time. The important thing to note is that although flying while pregnant is allowed, it might not always be beneficial for your or your little one.
In fact, flying when expecting might not even be up to you in the first place. Different airlines across the country have varying rules and regulations when it comes to flying while pregnant. WebMD states, “Airlines discourage travel after 36 weeks. Contact your carrier and ask about their policy for pregnant travelers. Ask if you will need a note from your doctor verifying your due date.” If you are able to fly with your airline of choice, have a plan in place before boarding. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind as you prepare for your flight:
●Talk to your doctor beforehand and let them know you plan on flying. Ask him or her about the destination itself and learn what risks to avoid or be aware of. If necessary, ask for recommendations he or she has on hospitals or specialists in the destination area.
●Bring along your own snacks, refillable water bottle and pillow, in order to stay as comfortable as possible while in the air.
●Arm yourself against germs on the plain with a hand sanitizer, wipes and even extra vitamins or supplements to settle your nausea.
●Keep all of the necessities in your carry-on… just in case your luggage gets lost at the airport.
●Make sure to move around safely whenever possible during the flight. Dr. Kayat says, “During pregnancy you are at increased risk of developing clots anyway, but traveling on long-haul flights increases that risk further.” By moving and elevating your feet when possible, you can help diminish the risk.
Finally, be cautious when flying late into your third trimester, past 36 weeks. Although a handful of babies are born on flights every year, you probably don’t want your little one to be one of them. (However, some newborns have received a million airline miles, or even free flights for life.) Remember to talk to your health physician about your plans for travel and consider his or her expert opinion.
While flying when expecting might seem overwhelming—or even impossible—it doesn’t have to be. If you plan on traveling through the air this holiday season, remember these tips in order to keep your little bundle of joy as safe as possible. If you’re still not sure if flying is the right choice for you, don’t worry. Keep your feet flat on the ground for a few short months, and you’ll be back in the air in no time.