Flying for Two
Tips for worry-free air travel when pregnant
Follow these suggestions to ensure the safety of both mom and unborn child while flying during your pregnancy:
Porters are an endangered species and you can never count on finding a luggage cart (or correct change for one) when you really need one, so make sure you don’t pack more than you can safely handle in your condition. Ideally you’ll be traveling with somebody who can do the heavy lifting for you (a great time to play the pregnancy card!), but should a partner or good Samaritan not be available, let common sense be your guide and choose a rollable suitcase-on-wheels or pack light enough that you can comfortably carry the load without strain.
Pick a Seat
Try to check in early to have your pick of good seats. Request an aisle seat so you have easier access to the bathroom. Trust me, you’ll be up and down more than a few times during the flight. You might want to ask for a bulkhead seat, which offers more leg room to stretch out in and no chair back reclining into you. However, bulkhead seats won’t allow you handy access to your cabin baggage and they usually store the tray table in the armrest which, depending on how far along you are, might be a bit snug on your newly expanded belly. Some sources say a wing seat offers the smoothest ride, other’s say the front of the plane has more stability and better air circulation. Check out seatguru.com for more advice on particular seats on your specific aircraft.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Wear loose, comfortable clothing and dress in layers so you can adapt to the fluctuating temperatures up there. Grab a pillow when you board the plane – you may need the extra lumbar support.
Opt for comfy, roomy, slip-on type shoes but be wary of kicking them off mid-flight. Feet tend to swell up in the skies, even more so when you’re pregnant, and you might not be able to get your shoes back on when you land.
Being pregnant is no excuse not to buckle up. Position the belt under your tummy bulge, across the top your thighs. It doesn’t have to be restrictively tight, but keep it securely fastened. Some airlines have belt extensions, if needed.
Long-term immobility is tough on the lymphatic system, pregnant or not, so make an effort to move, stretch and stimulate your circulation while aboard an aircraft. Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) is concern for pregnant women, so consider wearing supportive socks or maternity hose which can help compress your veins, keep your blood flowing and relieve swelling. If the captain has removed the seatbelt sign, take a stretching stroll up the aisle every hour or so (you probably need to go to the bathroom that frequently anyway).
Don’t worry about looking foolish when performing armchair exercises to prevent stiff joints and cramping. You’ll probably inspire others to do the same. Here are some exercises you can do in your seat (5 to 10 repetitions every hour or so ought to do it):
- Pull your shoulders down and release. Shrug them up and release.
- Take deep breaths to expand your rib cage.
- Gently tilt your head from side to side, ear to shoulder.
- Tilt your head forward and back, chin to chest.
- Look side to side (get to know your seatmates!).
- Stretch your torso by reaching your arms high overhead (you might want to adjust the airflow while you’re up there).
- Flex, extend and rotate your ankles. Wiggle your toes.
Food and Drink
You’ll need to drink plenty of water onboard to avoid dehydration, and stay clear of caffeinated beverages. Purchase some bottled water or juice from the departure lounge once you’ve passed through the security check point, as it’s nice to have something on hand to wet your whistle. The in-flight service schedule might not mesh with your thirst requirements.
Pickles and ice cream might be pushing it, but tuck a few healthy snacks in your carry-on as you never know when the munchies will grab you (or is that a constant?). Many airlines today don’t offer much in the way of in-flight food service, so do your homework and find out what kind of meal will be served on board, if any. A bag of salty chips and a soft drink isn’t really going to cut it when you’re flying for two.
Be prepared with contingencies for inevitable delays or missed connections – it may be a while until your next real meal. You want to keep your blood sugar level on your journey, so keep some nuts, dried fruit, crackers, low fat cheese or other healthy portable snack on hand.