4 countries across 4 continents at 24 weeks pregnant…forget snakes on a plane, we’re talking something way more terrifying here: tired, uncomfortable flying pregnant women on planes! And in my most recent episode of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Bump, I had my 20-month daughter along for the ride. Because that’s what every pregnant woman wants, a toddler to entertain at 30,000ft in the air!
I’ve flown during my first, second, and third trimesters, during 2 pregnancies and across 17 countries and 5 continents. I’ve flown short haul and long haul, all while feeling like I’m the size of a U-Haul. And I can confidently report that I didn’t produce a glowing newborn from airplane radiation, give birth in the exit row of a plane or come out with cankles from flying pregnant (because let’s be honest, swollen cankles are the most concerning outcome of those options).
Wondering how to fly the coop without going One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest from the experience? Just follow these 10 travel tips and you’ll be flyin’ high in no time!
- You must be this tall to ride this ride – all airlines have different cutoff dates for how late in your pregnancy you can fly and what distance they’ll let you go. So double check the rules of your specific airline to ensure both your departure and return flights get the green light for takeoff.
- WC – no, not the initials for Water Closet that you’re constantly searching for in public places, I mean With Child. Make it known to everyone from the check-in agent to the flight attendant that you have a baby on board just in case they feel like making a pregnant woman’s day and upgrading you, giving you a special meal or even just slipping you extra bottles of water. A girl can dream, right?
- Passing notes is encouraged – regardless of how many weeks you are, fly with a “fit to fly” note from your midwife, OB-GYN or GP stating you are safe to travel for the specific travel dates. It’s rare you’ll be asked for it but better safe than sorry.
- Hydration station – riding the wave pool of liquids all flight long has the double benefit of keeping you hydrated as well as forcing you to get up regularly, because #pregnancybladder.
- VIP coming through – when you pick up your tickets from the airline check-in desk, ask if there’s any special pregnancy, family or special assistance security lines. From asking this simple question alone I’ve been whisked to the front of queues and even escorted by airport buggy to my gate. Beep beep, get out the bump’s way!
- Treat yo self – now is not the time to squeeze into the lowest priced and smallest seat on the airplane. Where possible, book extra legroom seats so you don’t get stuck between a tray table and a hard belly!
- Aisle be right with you – book an aisle seat to have easier access to the smallest bathrooms in the world where you can do your oh so enjoyable reenactment of the airplane bathroom scene from Tommy Boy on an hourly basis.
- These pretzels are making me thirsty – snack smart and avoid super salty treats. Because the only thing more enjoyable than flying pregnant is getting swollen from that jar of pickles you inhaled during takeoff.
- As if you needed more reasons to wear leggings – trick that baby bump into thinking it’s flying first class by wearing super soft, non-belly restrictive clothing. My husband doesn’t believe me but I swear the baby specifically requests leggings and cashmere sweaters.
- Frankie Says Relax – you’re going on an airplane, not a spaceship; don’t worry yourself sick about the experience. It won’t affect you nearly as much as you’ve conjured up in your head, so just stay calm because stress is worse for the baby than some recycled airplane air. And if you’re really concerned, then just say no to the trip. Everyone will understand whatever decision you feel is right for your body.
If you only follow one piece of advice for flying pregnant from this laundry list, it’s to fly with a doctor’s note. Every culture treats pregnant women differently and takes various precautions at each stage of a passenger’s pregnancy. It takes no time to have your doctor write a note stating your dates of travel, their information and that you’re a-go for takeoff. You’ll likely never need it but this is definitely one of those better safe than sorry moments when you’re a travel mama to be!