Flying while pregnant might feel a little bit scary. Some women have to travel for business, some other for pleasure. In my case, I wanted to travel to my hometown in Colombia to visit my family and spend Christmas together. I am currently living in The Netherlands and had to take an intercontinental flight to visit my family. Luckily I was well prepared and now I want to share my tips with you.
1. Get a pregnancy statement from your midwife or doctor.
Most of the airlines will allow you to fly up to week 34 of the pregnancy. Before that time you will need a recent pregnancy statement with information about the due date and any complication. Regulations differ from one airline to the other, always check before you travel. Two days before the flight, I went to my midwife and had a regular control. There I got the pregnancy statement free of charge. I am currently at the end of my second trimester of pregnancy, which is the best time to travel. I was 26 weeks on the day of my flight.
2. Wear comfortable clothes.
The best thing to do is to wear separate pieces of clothes. Forget about jumpsuits and overalls. Wear instead leggings and a big sweater, or a dress. You will be going to the bathroom more often and you need easy clothes to make the process less annoying. Bring some extra clothes in your carry on bag for when it get’s cold in the airplane. During my trip, I wore a legging with a big sweater. Under the sweater, I wore a spaghetti top. As extra layer, I had a basic long shirt for the cold and a thin blouse for when we arrived. We flew from Madrid to Bogota and the difference in temperature was very big.
3. Wear long socks.
Long socks help you against swelling and aching legs. Best is if the socks are a little bit tight, to keep the blood flowing. During the flight, I only wore one pair of socks, but I had an extra pair of thick socks just in case it got cold.
4. Wear easy to take off shoes.
Comfortable shoes are a must. The best is if the shoes have no laces but expandable elastic panels. It is very common for the feet to swell. Elastic shoes makes it comfortable for you to survive the pit stops to the toilet. Every time I went to the toilet I put my shoes on and when I came back I left them under my seat. If you don´t have this type of shoes, you can wear your regular shoes but bring a pair of slippers to wear around the cabin.
5. Choose a seat in the aisle.
Since you will be standing up more often than normal, it´s better to have a seat in the aisle. For me, it didn´t matter much because I was sitting next to my husband and he didn’t mind standing up every time I needed to go out. It helped him to do some stretching. But if you are travelling alone, it’s better to sit in the aisle. I personally don’t like to sit close to the bathrooms because of the smell. Since the pregnancy, I have turned into a dog. I can smell everything very well. This time I chose a chair far from the toilet. That way I was able to walk a little bit and do some stretching.
6. Walk and stretch frequently.
It is important to walk and stretch in the cabin every one to two hours. Even if you don’t need to go to the bathroom, you should get up or do some stretching while sitting. Sitting for long periods of time can make your feet and ankles swell and your legs cramp. Take off your shoes and elevate your legs by resting your feet on your bag under the seat in front of you. If the seat next to you is empty, put your feet up on it. Pregnancy makes you more susceptible to thrombosis and varicose veins. It’s important to keep your blood circulating. When you are walking make sure you sit down as soon as there’s a whiff of air turbulence and while sited always keep your seat belt fastened under your belly and low on your hips.
7. Drink plenty of water.
The air of the cabin is dry, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated and drink as much as possible: only water. Try to avoid coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks.
8. Bring enough snacks for the flight.
Pregnancy can make you more hungry than you were before. During a long flight, you will get enough food, but in my experience, it’s not enough for pregnant women. The same morning of the flight, I stopped at the supermarket in the airport of Amsterdam and bought snacks for the flight. Remember that you can’t bring any liquid. Choose solid foods like nuts, wraps, sandwiches, cake, and bread. You can store the food in your carry on bag and have it always with you.
9. Spend the night before in a hotel.
If your flight is early in the morning and you need to be at the airport before dawn, the best is to spend the night in a hotel close by the airport (unless you have someone to bring you at that time). This was my first time to spend the night before in a hotel, and I found it very relaxed. I was able to sleep longer than if I would have slept at home. The hotel offered us a ride to the airport that only took 10 minutes. I felt good to starting the long trip in a relaxed way.
Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight! I hope these tips help you to have a smooth flight while being pregnant. Do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments below.