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Top Tips for Flying During Pregnancy

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Top Tips for Flying During Pregnancy

Million Mile SecretsTop Tips for Flying During PregnancyMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Emily:  The idea of flying while pregnant might be daunting for some.  Because if you’ve never done it before, you don’t know what to expect!  And preparing for a trip is already stressful enough.

So I decided to put together a list of tips to help keep you (and the baby!) healthy, happy, and comfortable during your flight.

Flying While Pregnant
Here’s a Tip…Wear a Loose-Fitting Dress to Hide Your Bump so You Can Sit In an Exit Row Seat 😉

Note:   I’ve had my baby!  And I hope this helps those of you who are preparing for a trip while pregnant.

Flying While Pregnant

1.   Before You Go

It’s always wise to check with your doctor before flying during pregnancy.  Especially if you’re pretty far along!

For reassurance, it’s also a good idea to bring important phone numbers, like that of your OBGYN, midwife, family members, etc.  And proof of insurance.  Because you just never know what might happen!

2.   Safety & Restrictions

Again, you should consult your doctor before deciding to fly while pregnant.  But in general, it’s safe.  And women do it all of the time!

But don’t forget, once you’re visibly pregnant, you’re not allowed to sit in the exit row.  So you can’t use that trick for a roomier seat. 🙁  If you do sit in an exit row, remember you’ll be expected to assist in the event of an emergency.  Only do what you’re comfortable with.

If your pregnancy isn’t high-risk, typically you can fly to a certain number of weeks.  But each airline has its own rules.

Flying While Pregnant
If You’re Late in Your Pregnancy, Some Airlines Require You to Be Examined by Your Doctor or Midwife Prior to Flying

For example:

American Airlines lets you fly without a doctor’s note up to 36 weeks.  After that, you must provide a doctor’s note stating that you’ve recently been examined and are ok to fly.

United Airlines’ rules are similar, where you can fly up to 36 weeks of pregnancy without a note.  After that, you must bring the original and 2 copies of an obstetrician’s certificate dated within 72 hours of departure.  Though they prefer the note is dated within 1 day of departure.

The note must state that the obstetrician has examined the customer and found her fit for travel.  And the due date of the baby must be after the date of the last flight on the itinerary.

Delta doesn’t have any restrictions.  But they do advise to check with your doctor.

Rules aside, just because you can fly doesn’t mean you should!  Due dates are an estimate.  And flying in the 3rd trimester could be uncomfortable, especially late in the game.

3.   Packing the Necessities

If you’re flying while pregnant, you’ll want to remember to pack any items you regularly use to keep you comfortable and healthy.

Bring along anything you need for morning sickness, medications, and vitamins.  Just in case your checked luggage gets lost!

Items like a neck pillow, cover-up, and slippers or socks, are also great when traveling during pregnancy.  Because it’s important to keep yourself as comfortable as possible.

And don’t forget snacks and water.  Food will help keep your blood sugar levels stable and might fend off nausea.  Plus, staying hydrated is of utmost importance when you’re pregnant.  And it can be especially difficult while flying!

Flying While Pregnant
Pack Your Favorite Snacks to Avoid Blood Sugar Drops and Dehydration!

Million Mile Secrets team member Meghan flew to Hawaii when she was ~4 months pregnant.  And almost passed out ~30 minutes into the flight!

She hadn’t had that sensation before and didn’t have it again after, so she thinks it was likely caused by dehydration.  But luckily one of the flight attendants was quick to bring her some orange juice after noticing her pale face!

Lastly, if you’re farther along in your pregnancy, it could be helpful to carry along copies of medical records and your birth plan (if you have one).  Just in case you go into labor while traveling.  And if you’ve planned to have something special with you during labor, bring that too!  Some women plan out a particular playlist or want a certain sentimental item with them, like photo of a loved one.

4.   Choosing the Right Seat

Staying comfortable is priority #1 when you’re flying while pregnant, so obviously a wider seat with more legroom is ideal.  And if you can get a lie-flat seat, even better!

If Business or First Class is out of your budget, consider Premium Economy at least.  Your legs might be swollen from fluid retention so being able to stretch them out is important.

Flying While Pregnant
A Lie-Flat Seat Would Be Ideal If You’re Taking a Long Flight During Your Pregnancy

Million Mile Secrets team member Meghan flew across the country in a Delta Comfort+ seat when she was ~7 months pregnant and appreciated the extra room to be able to stretch and shift around in.

I’d also consider an aisle seat for easy access to the bathroom should the need arise. 😉

5.   Dealing With Nausea

If you’re prone to morning sickness, it’s especially important to bring along any remedies you normally use to combat your nausea.  Because throwing up on a plane is NOT a fun experience!

Some women use special morning sickness lollipops, ginger candies, or saltine crackers.  Just bring whatever works!  And make sure you have a baggie available if it’s a real problem, in case you can’t make it to the bathroom in time.

Also, be aware of any smells that trigger your nausea and vomiting, because they can be hard to avoid on a plane.  The smell of coffee, for example, is a trigger for many women.

And if you’re prone to motion sickness or sensitive to the acceleration or deceleration of the plane, morning sickness may make it worse.  So check with your doctor to see if there’s anything you can take to combat the motion sickness.

Million Mile Secrets team member Jasmin flew numerous times while pregnant with her 3 kids.  She had mild morning sickness with 2 of the pregnancies, but flying didn’t seem to affect it.  That said, she doesn’t get airsick either!

6.   Protecting Yourself and the Baby While Abroad

Again, talk to your doctor about any potential risks.

Avoiding Zika is a big concern now, so it would be wise to limit travel to those spots!  And being aware of food borne illnesses and water quality is also important.  Because you can contract nasty bugs in certain countries, like giardia, E. coli, and Salmonella.

You might also consider buying travel medical insurance if you can find a policy that covers pregnancy related complications and/or labor and delivery.  And it might be wise to avoid developing countries where medical care might not be up to par with what you’re used to.

But it’s really up to you to decide what you’re comfortable with and what risks you’re willing to take!

Bottom Line

Women all over the world fly during pregnancy.  But it’s wise to check with your doctor before taking off on a trip when you’re pregnant!

Choosing the right seat, bringing snacks and comfortable clothes and shoes, and being prepared just in case the unexpected happens, are all important tips to consider before you fly.

That said, I think it’s important to keep doing what you love to do!  And for me, that’s traveling.  Plus, once the baby’s here, you’ll only have 2 years of free flights for the kiddo before you have to start earning even more miles to travel with your growing family. 😉

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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Tarheels Who Love Travel

Great advice for pregnant moms! Very useful and practical info here. More should be written on travel during pregnancy I believe. Thanks for sharing!

I traveled a ton during my pregnancy and had no problems, but I carried a letter from my doctor with me just in case. The only airline that questioned me and wanted to see it was British Airways when I flew transatlantic around 7 months. It’s worth mentioning that compression tights/stockings or at least socks are a good idea as pregnancy increases the risk of blood clots. My doctor advised me to wear the full tights version. Not easy to get on and off, but best to be safe!

PS Congratulations on your beautiful baby girl 🙂