If you are having a normal and uncomplicated pregnancy, flying while pregnant is not a big deal, but you should ALWAYS check with your doctor if you are planning to take a flight, regardless of how far along you are. Most women choose to fly during their second trimester when the risks and discomfort are lowest.
If are you are indeed knocked up and bound to be airborne, here is a list of all the things you need to take and do to ensure your ultimate comfort and safety:
1. Request an aisle seat and if possible, a blocked set next to you, “because I tend to get sick and would hate to inconvenience other passengers” 😉
2. Morning sickness or general nausea may be aggravated on a flight so make sure to have an air-sickness bag handy. Ginger and lemon help to alleviate the discomfort.
3. Carry your own meals. Given how airlines think pretzels are lunch these days, don’t rely on them to feed your cravings and nutrition needs when pregnant. Eat light, smaller meals instead of one big one – it will help you keep your meal down and reduce the likelihood of a barf or stomach pain when you are flying while pregnant.
4. Keep hydrated – buy as much water as you need to prevent dehydration when flying while pregnant. This will also keep you moving to the bathroom so that you avoid circulatory problems such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
5. Prevent DVT by buying flight socks available for pregnant ladies at your local pharmacy.
6. Make sure you have travel insurance and that your baby is covered if you are traveling in your third trimester.
7. Most airlines will require a letter from your doctor if you are flying while pregnant in your third trimester telling them your due date and that it is ok for you to fly. Check the airline’s website before hand or give them a call. Most require this letter to be dated within a week of traveling which is ridiculously inconvenient. Most airlines will not let you fly after 36 weeks so make sure you plan your babymoon before then.
8. Ensure that you have a doctor at your destination, no matter how far along you are.
9. Stay away from low pressure planes that could reduce the amount of oxygen in your body and could make you feel dizzy or nauseous.
10. Avoid countries that would require immunization.
11. Dress in layers because you can be hot and cold in pregnancy and it might be harder to regulate your temperature on a plane. Naturally wear comfortable and loose clothing -the jeggings will have to wait till after the baby is born.
12. Carry your prenatal chart and relevant records with you – you never know when you might need them.
13. Spring the extra few dollars for a porter so that you don’t have to lift your heavy suitcases off the conveyor if you are traveling alone, or request your nearest chivalrous-looking fellow passenger to help you out.
14. If you are travelling with kids, make sure you have DVDs and toys to keep them entertained. The upside is dealing with a 2-year old may help you forget about your own discomfort!
15. Be sensible – if you are feeling tired or unwell during your pregnancy, avoid putting the unnecessary stress of travel on yourself. In my case, I had a mild case of fibroids at 26 weeks but risked flying from Sydney to Singapore because my whole family was there and I knew I would be better taken care of there than at home alone, while my husband was at work. There is no hard and fast rule, you have to listen to your body.
Here’s a list of policies for air travel during pregnancy for major US carriers.
I also like Babycenter’s Emergency Contact Sheet for Pregnant Travelers as a template to carry around.