Ten Tips for Stress-Free Flying While Pregnant

Don’t stop traveling, just travel differently.

Don’t stop traveling, just travel differently.

It’s no secret air travel has its challenges. Being pregnant while flying can be a stressful time, especially since air travel is making infamous headlines these days.

Recently, airline flight attendants from Turkish Airlines delivered a baby girl, Kadiju, at only 28 weeks, onboard a flight across Africa from Guinea’s capital of Conakry to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.

 And if you’re anywhere you can see the news, the crazy viral video footage of the man being dragged off a United flight recently is everywhere.

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I’ve also read stories of a pregnant mom being asked to leave a United flight because her two-year-old wouldn’t calm down during the plane’s taxi, even after passengers stood up for the mom.

Even more recently, a video went viral when an American Airlines flight attendant wrestled a young mom’s stroller away from her, all while the mom had one baby in her arms and her second baby in a car seat on the ground beside her.

Certainly these flight horrors don’t help ease the stress of boarding a plane as a pregnant mom. That’s precisely why I’m sharing my best advice, as a mom, world-traveler and travel blogger.

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While flying is perfectly safe for moms-to-be during pregnancy in pressurized airplanes, an extra bit of preparation and wisdom will keep you stress-free.

Ten Tips for Stress- Free Flying While Pregnant

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

The primary concern of any flight attendant’s job is your safety. If you’re flying in your first trimester and not showing yet, how will they know you may need to go to the bathroom more frequently or have a bit of nausea? Let the airline staff know so they can be there with some ginger ale when you need it.

There are golf carts available to help you at the airports in between gates and terminals. Wave someone down and ask for a ride (or better yet, let the airline know before your trip so they can be there at your gate when you arrive).

Seatbelt extenders are available to help stretch over the top of your baby bump to make your seat more comfortable. And, it never hurts to ask for an upgraded seat to accommodate a mom-to-be. Don’t be disappointed if they say no, but you don’t ever get what you don’t ask for.

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Lillie, from Around the World L, encourages you to flaunt your baby bump! She shares, “Use your pregnant belly to your advantage by dressing in cute maternity clothes that accentuate the bump, and pointing to the belly while asking for assistance. In my case, this allowed me to get an entire ROW of airplane seats free on all four flights to and from Dubai, meaning I could fully recline and actually sleep each time!” Lillie also encourages you to take advantage of traveling solo while pregnant, to fulfill some self-interests before baby arrives.

  1. Make Sure to Take your Pregnancy Must-Haves in your Carry-on.

Are there vitamins or supplements you take? Essential oils or your favorite crackers you nibble on if you feel nauseous? An eye-mask to block the light so you can rest? Your favorite music and headphones? Keep all of these items readily accessible. You’ll probably have to leave your amazing full-body pregnancy pillow home, but perhaps you have a travel neck pillow you love that will help on the trip.

  1. Stay Super Hydrated

An absolute must is a large, refillable water bottle. I love the double-walled insulated stainless kind in my travel bag. Remember, it needs to be empty to pass through airport security. Many airports now have refilling stations next to the water fountains, and certainly all Starbucks locations will refill it for you. When the flight attendants pass through the aisles, they’re happy to fill your bottle to help keep you hydrated. Just ask!

Facial misters can also help keep you cool, refreshed and hydrated. Bottled waters in airports can cost upwards of $6 each, so not only does refilling your own keep you hydrated, it’s easy on your family budget.

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  1. Travel with Your Most Comfy Clothes

This is not the time to worry about high fashion. Think comfort and then cuteness. Prioritize by packing elastic waistbands, stretch fabrics and more elastic waists. This is a time you could travel in one size but the belly can move to another. Don’t be stuck having to shop for new clothes in a new area, just plan and pack ahead.

Always pack an extra pair of panties and top in your carry on bag, just in case the airline misplaces your check-in luggage. And, don’t forget to weigh your luggage at home ahead of time so you don’t end up with overweight bags.  (Check the airline you’re flying for weight requirements, they vary.)

  1. Dress in Layers

Dress in layers and take a lightweight blanket, wrap or shawl to help with temperature variances on the plane, and from your hormones. When you're pregnant, one minute you’re hot and the next minute you’re freezing. It helps your comfort and those around you if you are prepared to adjust your own temperature with layers and wraps.

Compression hose can help with circulation and preventing any chance of blood clotting in your legs while on flights. It’s a good idea to put them on the morning of your flight and keep them on until after you’ve arrived.

  1. If You’re Over 28 weeks, You May Need a Doctor’s Note with Permission to Fly.

Some airlines won’t allow you to fly in your last trimester after 36 weeks at all. Every airline has different restrictions. According to the Delta Air Lines website, “Delta does not impose restrictions on flying for pregnant women, so a medical certificate is not required to travel. Keep in mind, however, that ticket change fees and penalties cannot be waived for pregnancy. If you're traveling after your eighth month, it's a good idea to check with your doctor to be sure travel is not restricted.”

However, Turkish airlines, whose staff recently helped deliver a baby at 28-weeks mid-flight has very different restrictions stating, “Pregnant women can fly with a doctor's report that states that they are fit to fly by air carriage between 28-35 weeks. After that, they are no longer fit to fly even with medical clearance.”

United airlines states these requirements for expectant mothers: “Any woman in the first eight months of pregnancy will be allowed to travel on a United flight without medical documentation. A woman traveling during her ninth month of pregnancy must have the original and two copies of an obstetrician’s certificate, which must be dated within three days (72 hours) prior to her flight departure. To best assure the pregnant traveler’s safety, it is preferable to have a certificate dated within one day of flight departure.

Make sure you check in with your airlines in plenty of time before departure to ensure you’ve met all the necessary requirements, and had time to see your doctor in advance if necessary.

  1. Ask for a Seat on the Aisle Close to the Bathroom!

Heather, from ILoveFamilyTravel.com says this piece of advice has saved her on pregnancy flights! Getting up and walking around regularly can be excellent for keeping yourself relaxed and circulation flowing, and is certainly much easier from an aisle seat. Being next to the bathroom, well… pregnant women just get that, right?

To ensure you get the right seat, make sure to make your selections right away when you book your flights, and confirm them the day of departure with the gate agent.  If you can swing the upgrade fees to the “economy-plus” section, the extra leg room really does help ensure a more comfortable flight, especially if it’s full.

  1. Utilize Your Airline’s App

Familiarize yourself with your airline’s app before you fly. As a Delta Sky Miles member, I love traveling with them and utilizing the features of their app. As a passenger, you can watch their selection of movies and shows and listen to a wide-array of music stations at no-charge on your own devices.  (Parenting tip—this is a HUGE help for traveling with kids, too! Get your airline’s app on each of their devices ahead of time so they can use the kid-friendly features).

Use the app alerts and check-in as soon as it alerts you that early check-in is available. You can even use your phone for your boarding passes, which will save you having to fumble for the old-fashioned paper ones.

  1. Arrive Early!

On the day of departure, make sure you allow plenty of time to get yourself around the airport with a few extra bathroom stops. There’s nothing worse than being rushed through a terminal because you’re running late.

  1. Let Go of the Stress. You’ll Be Fine!

This is probably the best piece of advice I can give you. Relax and enjoy the ride! After all, you’re on an adventure and another one is about to begin when baby arrives. Make the most of every moment and Vaya Con Dios!

One baby arrives, make sure you bookmark these tips to make flying simple, and never lose your sense of adventure. As I always say, don’t stop traveling, just travel differently.

Jen Reyneri

Jen Reyneri

Renaissance Woman Jen Reyneri and her husband Luis often live life on the road with their two home-schooled sons. Popular author and speaker, Jen is founder of WordTraveling.com. Spirited and spirit filled, she savors life, poetic words, sabbaticals and strong coffee.

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