Traveling by plane this holiday season? Air travel is typically considered safe during pregnancy, though we always recommend discussing your travel plans with your doctor/midwife in advance. Nonetheless, it can take some extra preparation to make the trip as comfortable as possible.
Here are our top tips for ensuring smooth and comfortable air travel:
1. Check if You Need a Doctor’s Note. Some airlines will not allow pregnant women on board flights once they are late into their last trimester unless accompanied by a doctor’s note. That said, we know that many of you are busy women – some of whom work and travel even into the last trimester. Make sure to check what the airline’s flying policy is for pregnant women and bring a permission slip from your doctor to avoid any hassle at check-in.
2. Make Use of Restrooms Prior to Boarding. One of the best pieces of advice given to our founder, Grace, during her pregnancy was to go to the bathroom right before boarding. Trying to go to the bathroom before taking off can be hectic with other passengers trying to board. Also, it avoids a crisis if the plane gets stuck on the runway with the fasten seatbelt sign on!
3. Take Advantage of Early Boarding Options. It may take you a little longer to settle in. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of early boarding options with airlines that allow them – you might as well get used to it since you’ll need it once you start traveling with baby!
4. Don’t Lift Your Own Luggage. Lifting heavy objects above your head while pregnant is a big no-no. With a shifted center of gravity and looser ligaments, joints and connective tissues from pregnancy hormones, you can risk falling or injuring yourself. If there is one time in your life when you can ask for assistance, it is certainly while you’re pregnant. Ask a fellow passenger or a flight attendant to help get your luggage up or to bring it down from the overhead bins. Travel with luggage that can be easily rolled around to avoid heavy lifting as well.
5. Consider Booking an Aisle Seat. Let’s face it, it is inevitable that you will have to use the restroom at least once while on a flight, especially as you progress later into your pregnancy. Consider booking an aisle seat so you can avoid having to climb over other passengers every time you need to go to the restroom. In addition, it will also make it easier for you to get up, walk around and stretch on longer flights to help with blood flow and circulation.
6. Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes. Tight clothing can affect your circulation, especially while sitting for long periods of time. Pregnant women who fly are at a higher risk of developing a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot in a deep leg vein. Compression socks may also be helpful, but they should be fitted by a doctor in order to be fully effective. Our favorite outfit is a long, comfy sweater with black leggings and a pair of cool, high-top sneakers (who says you can’t look stylish while pregnant?!).
7. Drink Lots of Water! Of course this is important whether you are traveling or not, but air travel can cause dehydration. Make sure to grab a bottle of water once you pass through security, or bring a bottle and find a water fountain to fill it up. Airlines like Virgin America now provide water bottle refill stations inside their terminals.
8. Pack Your Own Snacks. It is almost impossible to find healthy, organic alternatives at airports. Pack your own snacks for the flight to avoid resorting to fast food. Making your own snack mix by blending nuts, dried fruit and granola from the bulk aisle at your grocery store is a great option. We are also in love with Dr. McDougall’s Vegan Pad Thai Noodle Soup. You can carry the bowl on board and have the stewardess provide you with hot water. The packaging is BPA-free and unlike other instant noodles, these contain NO MSG.