Just as pregnancy can be an exciting and happy time in your life, it can be just as much a stressful and overwhelming one. With all the preparations you will have to make in order to accommodate the newest addition to your family as well as still fitting in your regular day-to-day responsibilities, you may find yourself slipping into the nervous-wreck mode. If that is the case, a relaxing holiday may be just what the doctor orders.
During pregnancy, many healthcare professionals differ on when is considered the safest time to travel. Some say the earlier the better, and others claim the safest time is between the 18th and 24th weeks as most emergencies tend to occur within the first and third trimesters.
No matter what works best for you, clearly pregnancy should not be considered an impediment to your travels or flight plans. So don’t let it get in the way of you and your partner’s intended “babymoon” – a last chance trip to take together before baby’s arrival. And as most of us know from experience, traveling by airplane isn’t always a piece of cake. When adding in the extra wrinkle of flying while pregnant, your best bet is to plan ahead to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
So if you’re feeling good and you have your doctor or midwife’s say-so – then by all means plan an enjoyable and relaxing holiday before your baby’s appearance. Being pregnant definitely does not require you to shut the door on any flight plans. It just means you have more to think about and look into before finalizing your travel arrangements.
7 Know the Airline’s Policy on Pregnant Passengers
If you’re traveling by airplane, it is important to contact the airlines you will be using to find out their policies regarding pregnant passengers. Policies do vary from airline to airline which is why you will need to look into this when booking flights. And don’t forget to keep in mind how far along you will be on your return flight as well.
Generally, even if visibly pregnant, you will not be questioned when booking your flight or even checking your luggage. However, airline staff do have the authority to stop you at the gate before boarding to question you about your pregnancy. If your pregnancy is considered low-risk, it is most often considered safe to fly up to your 36th week of pregnancy. However, some airlines may be unwilling to carry you if you are nearing the end of your pregnancy due to the increased risk of complications or going into early labor.
Talk to Your Healthcare Provider
Once you contact your airline and find out what their policy is regarding pregnancy and flying, your next step should be to talk to your healthcare provider and have them write a letter giving you permission to fly. In case you are stopped and questioned when boarding your plane, a letter from your doctor or midwife will carry a lot of weight and allow you to continue your travel plans without any further hitches.
6 Take into Account Your Health and Wellbeing
Honestly, when offered the chance to hop on a plane and fly to some tropical destination who wouldn’t want to just take the plunge without worrying about all the details? But now you have your own state of health to consider as well as that of your unborn baby so you need to be realistic when planning a holiday.
First off, you should take stock of the way you feel and how your pregnancy has been progressing. If this isn’t your first pregnancy, consider the procession and results of your previous pregnancies. Did you suffer miscarriages or premature labor? Did you undergo any other complications? Or were they low-risk and uneventful? Often times, history will repeat itself so this is important information for you to consider.
If this is your first pregnancy, then, unfortunately, you don’t have any previous experience to compare this to. You will need to be honest with yourself. Has your pregnancy been progressing in a textbook fashion or do you have high blood pressure or gestational diabetes? Have you been experiencing nausea and vomiting? These somewhat minor complications can take a turn for the worst when flying. This means you will need to think about the possible risks you face when flying and then make your decision.
Get Advice from a Professional
Talk to your healthcare provider. They are experts in this area so if you are on the fence, let their advice help you decide what is best for you and your baby.
5 Plan Ahead for your Safety
Just because flying increases certain risks for you and your unborn baby, does not mean you can’t take steps yourself in helping to lower them. You have lots of control where your own personal health and safety are concerned.
You should definitely not even consider flying in a small plane that doesn’t have a pressurized cabin. When flying at high altitudes, the air is extremely thin. And if you are seated in an unpressurized airplane cabin, your body has to work harder than normal in order to supply you and your baby with significant amounts of oxygen. This potential lack of oxygen can be extremely dangerous for your unborn baby.
When flying pregnant, your risk of developing thrombosis and varicose veins increases and these can pose a real danger to you. Buy a pair of compression stockings or flight socks designed to decrease your chances of getting a potentially dangerous blood clot. They are available at most pharmacies and medical supply stores. Put the stockings on before you get out of bed on the morning of your flight and keep them on until you go to bed after your flight.
Once on the airplane, be sure to get up and walk around at least once or twice every hour. Sitting for long periods of time can cause swelling in your feet and ankles and result in cramping. Just walking up and down the aisle and doing some simple stretches will make you more comfortable and lower your chances of developing blood clots.
If you do notice swelling, soreness, tenderness or redness in your legs, particularly at the back of your lower legs, get medical help immediately as this can be a sign of a blood clot.
Another Safety Tip
Keep a bottle of water by your side. Cabin air has a little moisture in it so you can become dehydrated much quicker than usual. If you have a water bottle with you, then you won’t have to rely on flight attendants to provide you with service.
4 Read the Fine Print on Your Insurance Coverage
Before you and your partner head out on your babymoon, don’t neglect to read the fine print on your medical insurance policy. Keep in mind that even if your healthcare provider gives you a thumbs up on your travel plans, this has nothing to do with whether your insurance policy will cover your medical expenses while pregnant and traveling.
It’s up to you to inform your insurance provider that you are pregnant and planning to travel. If you assume your insurance will automatically cover any medical emergencies that may suddenly arise while traveling, don’t be surprised if you end up giving birth to a million dollar baby. Don’t laugh – this has actually happened before! Expenses can rack up quickly considering that in the U.S., it costs approximately $15,000 per day for a baby to stay in a neonatal intensive care unit! Even when traveling within Canada, the provincial health care system usually only covers 7 to 9% of out-of-province medical costs.
When it comes to travel insurance and pregnant travelers, rules vary from policy to policy which is why it’s important to educate yourself. More often than naught, policies do not include coverage for pregnancy, pregnancy complications or the birth of your child if you leave home within nine weeks before or after your expected due date.
Your best course of action is to contact your insurance provider and request a list of payment exclusions especially concerning any pre-existing conditions and then show this list to your healthcare provider. Your doctor or midwife will probably be able to provide you with a clearer idea as to any possible risks you face for denied coverage.
Educate Yourself and Relax
If you focus on better educating yourself when it comes to your travel preparations, it will be much easier for you to relax and enjoy yourself. And after all, this is the whole point of traveling in the first place.
3 Plan Ahead for Your Comfort
If feasible, consider flying in first or business class. If anyone deserves to fly in complete comfort, it’s a pregnant woman. Another option that is sometimes less expensive is to ask at check-in if an upgraded seat is available.
If flying economy is your only option, relax – there are lots of ways you can ensure you still fly to your destination in comfort. When booking your seat, ask if you can get a seat in the bulkhead for the extra leg room it will supply. This will also make it easier to stand up and move around the cabin or make a quick get-away to the bathroom. And even if you normally prefer the window seat, it may make sense to request one on the aisle so that you aren’t as confined and won’t need to disturb any other passengers when heading to the bathroom or to stretch your legs.
If your pregnancy has been wreaking havoc on your bladder or if you’ve been suffering bouts of nausea, then consider requesting a seat near the bathrooms.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Dress for comfort, not style. Wear layers so that you can adjust your clothing for any temperature extremes you may be affected by. Your feet are definitely going to swell so wear comfy shoes that are easy to remove and put back on. Remember, if you remove your shoes during the flight, when it comes time to put them back on, your feet may be swollen. So consider wearing a shoe easy to slip on and off.
2 Plan Ahead in Order to Lower Your Stress
It’s difficult enough to be running through an airport hoping you packed everything you need but add pregnancy to this equation, and you have a recipe for disaster. The whole point of a get-away at this point is for you to focus on some rest and relaxation before the arrival of your newborn and the temporary disappearance of your freedom. So get your holiday off to the best start possible by planning ahead and leaving nothing until the last minute.
Even if your usual packing method involves jamming stuff into a suitcase the morning of your trip, take into account that when it comes to prenatal vitamins and other pregnancy related items you may require, it may not be as easy to find them when away from home. So make a list ahead of time so you don’t forget to pack anything important that may be unavailable to you while away such as:
- Prenatal vitamins
- Pain relievers safe to take during pregnancy (such as Tylenol)
- Compression stockings
- A list of important phone numbers
- A copy of your up-to-date medical records
Well before planning your tip, make a point to talk to friends and family who have recently traveled while pregnant. Chances are, they will be able to provide you with some tips you never would have considered. Maybe they wished they had done things differently – so here is your chance to learn from their mistakes.
Be sure to schedule a visit to your doctor or midwife before your trip. Find out if you are required to undergo any immunizations based on your travel plans. And just ensuring that both you and your baby are healthy and fine to travel will do a lot for your peace of mind.
Another Tip for Peace of Mind
Something else you should consider doing for your peace of mind is to purchase refundable tickets. That way if something comes up with your health at the last minute or if your healthcare provider has some concerns during your check-up, the decision to cancel your trip can be made easier knowing you will not be losing any money.
1 Consider Your Destination in Terms of the Emergency Services it Provides
No one wants to plan for disaster, but in this case, it definitely won’t hurt to be prepared. Are you visiting another city that has similar healthcare services to what you have available at home? Will you be near family and friends who are more familiar with the area and can recommend a clinic or doctor to you?
Some doctors recommend confining your travel plans to Europe and North America in order to ensure you have first world medical care should you require it. If you will be alone in a new city, then do some research before your trip. Find out where the nearest hospital is located. Call the hotel where you will be staying – they will probably be able to provide you with answers to questions about nearby health services that are available to you.
If you are going to a resort, find out what kind of medical services they offer on site for guests. Do some digging to find out where the nearest hospitals are and what kinds of medical capabilities they offer.
Do your Homework
It is important to conduct this research before you book your travel plans as it may play a part in deciding where to go or even in your decision to travel at all. Even if you’re typically an optimist, in this case, when the health of you and your newborn baby may be at stake, it is probably best to plan for the worst and hope for the best.