Getting comfortable while you’re pregnant is a challenge in any situation, especially in the later weeks when your belly can feel massive. However, if you’re going to be traveling by plane during your pregnancy, you might be even more concerned about your ability to tolerate your time in the air.
Of course, beyond a certain point, you aren’t supposed to travel by air, and that’s something to discuss with your doctor and airline. If you aren’t at that point and you are going to be flying, the following are some tips to help you get by.
Bring Your Own Pillow
Unless you’re flying in first class, you’re probably not going to get many luxury items from the airline when you get on the plane. Depending on how long the flight is, they might give you a thin blanket and pillow, but you should probably bring your own.
You may depend on your pregnancy pillow when you’re sleeping at home, and you should similarly find a great travel pillow during this time. If you invest in a high-quality travel pillow, you’ll be able to use it anytime and not just when you’re pregnant, of course.
Choosing the perfect travel pillow can involve some personal preference, but general things to look for include all-around support that’s consistent. Memory foam travel pillows are often a favorite because they’re easy to compress and pack, plus they’re ultra-comfortable.
If you lean forward while you sleep, you’ll want a pillow that offers wraparound support. There are also travel lumbar pillows that are good if you don’t necessarily plan to sleep but just want to be comfortable while you’re sitting on the plane.
If you have a long or overnight flight ahead of you, there actually are travel body pillows that are inflatable and are fairly easy to take on the plane with you. Of course, these are shorter than what you might think of with a traditional body pillow, but for air travel, they’re perfect for many pregnant women.
You also want a soft travel pillow that won’t irritate your skin and one that’s compact enough that it won’t create a problem for you when you’re in the airport.
Along with a pillow, think about bringing a travel blanket too.
Many people fly with compression socks even when they aren’t pregnant, but if you are pregnant, they should be in your must-have kit. When you’re in the air it can really impact your circulation and compression socks can help prevent uncomfortable swelling or dangerous clots from forming.
Many pregnant women find when they wear compression socks, their legs and feet feel less tired and they don’t experience as much general achiness.
Timing Your Trip
Some of the comfort or discomfort you’re likely to experience if you fly while pregnant could be due to your timing. If it’s at all possible, the best rule of thumb is to try and restrict your traveling to the second trimester, which falls between 14 and 27 weeks.
During the first trimester, you may be tired and nauseous and during the third trimester your doctor may advise you not to travel at all. Some airlines and even cruise lines have certain rules for pregnant women as well, so check on that well in advance.
When you’re booking your airline tickets, it may be worth it to pay the extra fee to choose your seat ahead of time. For a pregnant woman, if it’s available, the bulkhead is a good choice. It gives you more room to stretch out your legs and even prop them up if you want. You don’t have to worry about the person in front of you lowering their seat into your space, and you’re closer to the bathroom.
Move Around in the Air
When you’re in the air, get up and walk around and move as much as you can, particularly on longer flights.
If you’re pregnant, you’re at a higher risk of getting a blood clot and sitting still for too long can make that an even higher risk. Wear loose clothes on your flight so that you don’t block blood flow.
Maneuver Your Seatbelt
You have to wear your seatbelt, whether pregnant or not, so you can put it under your bump if that’s comfortable, or you can get a seatbelt extender. If your belly is pretty big that may be not only the more comfortable but the safer option.
Bring a Copy of Your Prenatal Records
It may not make you anymore physically comfortable, but bringing your prenatal records with you can make things go more smoothly if you’re traveling by air. You should bring any medical notes, and you should also locate the nearest hospital to your destination.
Bring Water and Healthy Snacks
When you’re on an airplane, it dehydrates you and this is compounded by the fact that when you’re pregnant you need more water anyway. Bring your own water bottle because it can be tough to get flight attendants’ attention when they’re busy, and they can’t do service during many parts of a flight anyway.
You should also bring your own snacks. If you have the salty airplane snacks and food, it can make fluid retention worse and contribute to more swelling.
Some good options that you can bring on the plane with you include whole-grain cereals, nuts, cut up fruits or vegetables, whole wheat crackers or cheese sticks. Try to avoid anything fried or spicy because these kinds of foods can contribute to gas and nausea.
Having plenty of hydrating water can also help reduce swelling in your nasal passages, which is a common symptom during pregnancy that leads to the ongoing feeling of having a stuffy nose.
Finally, bring a roller suitcase, and if you’re not traveling with someone else, ask someone to help you so that you aren’t lifting it to put it in the overhead compartment.
Flying when you’re pregnant may not be ideal, but if you plan ahead and bring things onboard that make you feel comfortable it can certainly be managed.