Some people think that you can't fly if you're pregnant, but that's not exactly true. If you and your baby are healthy, you can safely fly until you're around 36 weeks (32 weeks for multiples). With that said, pregnant women do need to take special precautions while flying. After all, it's not just you getting onto that airplane.
Flying places additional stress on a pregnant woman's body, the effects of which can usually be remedied by taking special precautions. Here are 10 life-saving tips that pregnant women should heed before flying, no matter far along they are.
10 Get Your Doctor's Approval
It's generally safe for healthy pregnant women to travel up until 36 weeks, but if you're past the 28th week, most airlines require written doctor's approval. Airlines implemented this rule to lower the number of deliveries and complications that happen in the air.
To be safe, you should still get your doctor's approval even if you're both healthy and in the early stages. Every woman experiences pregnancy differently, so it's best that your physician knows, without a doubt, that your body can handle the flight.
9 Don't Fly Internationally—At All
International flights are usually longer than domestic ones, so the less than stellar aspects of flying are compounded. Plus, if you go into labor on the plane (or then get transported to a hospital), you don't want to have to deal with any possible language barriers.
There's also the hassle of your baby's citizenship. If your or your partner is a U.S. citizen, then your baby will automatically be granted U.S. citizenship. But you might still have to submit added paper work to verify such claims. And when you're healing, with a new baby, that's the last thing you will want to deal with.
8 Don't Over Pack
The airport shuffle is never fun. Between checking in, finding the right terminal, then boarding the plane, you'll be doing a ton of walking and lifting by the time you board.
Unless you're traveling with a partner or family member who's willing to carry your luggage, you need to pack light. Putting unnecessary stress on your body, by lugging around heavy suitcases, could be detrimental to you and your baby.
7 Wear Layers
Everyone reacts differently to airplane temperatures. Some will be hot, some will be cold. Or temperatures could fluctuate. When you first board, you're still hopped up on adrenaline from the airport shuffle, so you might feel hot. But once you get settled, and the elevation influences how well your body is circulating your blood, you might get a little chilly.
To offset these changes, you should layer your clothing. That way, you can easily throw on an extra jacket or, if need be, throw it off.
6 Take The Aisle Seat
Airplane seats are notorious for being small and cramped. If you have a large baby bump, you can expect to be extra uncomfortable. Unless you get upgraded to first class, the only real way to offset this is to get the aisle seat.
It won't give you extra leg room, but you could angle yourself to give your baby bump a little bit more space. Plus, you'll be able to easily access the bathroom without having to shimmy past your row mates.
5 Stay Hydrated
Planes fly at high altitudes where the air is dryer and lighter. Dehydration sets in easier at those altitudes, so it's important for flyers to stay adequately hydrated.
Dehydration is dangerous for everybody, but especially pregnant women and their unborn children. To offset this affect, pregnant women are encouraged to be vigilant with their hydration methods. Drink often, even if you don't necessarily feel thirsty. For a better effect, make sure you're thoroughly hydrated before you board.
4 Walk The Aisle
The inside of an airplane is filled with pressurized air to help offset the effects of the high elevation. While this is supposed to make breathing easier, it can also impact the body's circulatory system. Clots, which can be life threatening, can then set in.
Pregnancy makes you even more susceptible to blood clots—especially deep vein thrombosis (a more dangerous kind)--than the average person. If those clots move into your lungs, a pulmonary embolism can develop. Walking during the flight can help keep your blood moving and pumping as usual.
3 Wear Compression Socks
Compression socks can also help prevent blood clots. Deep vein thrombosis develops when blood pools in the lower limbs and gets trapped in the veins. Compression socks assist your circulatory system, by forcing that blood back up to your heart.
Anyone can wear compression socks, but they're especially helpful for pregnant women, whose body is already working overtime to sustain their pregnancy.
2 Prep For Nausea
The best time to travel while pregnant is after the first trimester when morning sickness should have subsided. But that doesn't have any bearing on whether you'll feel airplane nausea, cause by turbulence.
While nausea might not be life threatening, it sure can kill a good time. And if you're flying and pregnant, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll feel a little sick. One great way to offset this is by drinking mint tea aboard the plane.
1 Stay Clean
Airports and airplanes are a breeding ground for germs. With so many people, from every corner of the country and world, congregating in one place, the chance of getting sick is, unfortunately, very high. Limit your contact with germs and viruses by packing disinfectant wipes.
You can use them on the plane to wipe down armrests and anything else you come into contact with. Store them in your carry on along with hand sanitizer and facial tissues. You should also try to avoid shared items like earphones, which might not have been thoroughly cleaned between uses. When it's time to eat, make sure you wipe down any utensils you're given with food-safe sanitizing wipes.