As the holiday season approaches, most of us start planning and booking this year’s getaway. But what about flying when you’re pregnant? We spoke to travel writer Lucy Sheref (aka wanderluce) to find out more.
Discovering you’re pregnant is amazing, and throws you into a whole new world of rules, advice (both helpful and wholly unwelcome) and things you need to Google. From morning sickness, constant bladder interruptions, a sore back and oh, the heartburn: each trimester has its own ‘special’ challenges.
Whether you need to travel for work or for pleasure, short or long-haul: Is it safe? And how do you maintain your sanity?
But what if, like me, you are a frequent flyer? Whether you need to travel for work or for pleasure, short or long-haul: Is it safe? And how do you maintain your sanity?
Here’s how to navigate the challenges at every stage of pregnancy.
Visit Your GP/Midwife
Your first step is to speak to your GP who will be able to give you the bespoke advice for your pregnancy. Sarah Reynolds, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Bedford Hospital NHS Trust reassures: "If your pregnancy has no complications then there's no reason why you can't travel safely, as long as you take the right precautions."
Although the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) advise the safest time for a woman to fly is prior to 37 weeks (32 if you are carrying twins), many airlines require a doctor’s note to ensure you are under 28 weeks.
Any kind of travel over five hours carries a small risk of blood clots (DVT) so stay hydrated and aim to move about lots. I wore compression socks which help to reduce any swelling and can be found at the pharmacy.
The NHS also recommend you carry your maternity notes with you and check the hospital facilities at your destination.
Flying in your first trimester
At this stage, your main concern will probably be holding down the, ahem, delicious plane food. I had two work trips, and my main issue was sucking in my stomach so my colleagues wouldn’t suspect anything.
Travel blogger Monica Stott who travelled to over 20 different countries while pregnant, agrees this can be the trickiest time to travel: “You may feel tired and sick but most people won't know you're pregnant so might not be so understanding if you're tired and cranky.”
My advice? Take every opportunity to have a nap, and be sure to eat little and often (I was obsessed with plain crisps and apples!) If you struggle to eat without feeling nauseous, stay hydrated and sniff essential oils, like ginger, to calm your tummy.
Flying in your second trimster
Hello honeymoon period! This is often the best time in pregnancy as icky symptoms disappear, you have a cute bump and lots more energy.
A slight error was when I thought it would be a brilliant idea to switch a planned beach getaway in India, to a Parisian city break because I was worried I’d be too tired to fly. Well, I wasn’t too tired. And three days spent drooling over delicious, forbidden cheese watching my husband drink for three left me a little cranky.
Three days spent drooling over delicious, forbidden cheese in Paris, watching my husband drink for three left me a little cranky.
Not everyone enjoys this stage of pregnancy though, as blogger Celine discovered when she had to attend a wedding in Australia while five months pregnant: “The table got stuck on my bump, my ankles doubled in size and it was just pretty horrendous”
If you do plan to fly, make sure you nab an aisle seat so you can nip to the toilet whenever nature calls.
Flying in your third trimester
During my wonderful second trimester, I thought it would be a fabulous idea to take a trip to South Africa booked for the very last weeks I could fly.
It was an absolute nightmare. I was hot, bothered and tired all the time. Convinced I had a blood clot in my leg, my low point was sobbing in the toilet at 38,000 feet while my husband snoozed happily. My only solace was looking at my glowing face in the mirror, freshly pampered at the Crème de La Mer counter where I’d enjoyed a free facial. Although perhaps I mistook my glow for sweat...
Monica agrees: “You need to start accepting all the help you're offered and take thing easy. Get plenty of rest, wear the comfiest clothes you can find (or fit into!), carry a bottle of water and prepare yourself for some serious relaxation.”
Have you planned a trip during pregnancy or did you fly when you were expecting? Share your experiences below!