Everything you need to know before jetting off with your bump!
Whether you’re planning a little ‘babymoon’ to put your feet up and unwind, have a holiday booked that you can’t get out of, or you’re taking a trip to visit family or friends; the idea of stepping onto a plane pregnant can seem a little daunting. Add to that the many conflicting opinions and messages about whether pregnant women should take to the skies, and you’ve got yourself a minefield of information.
When faced with all those opinions, it can be difficult to know what to do for the best; should you fly at all, and if so, when?
At APH.com we’re giving you a break; we’ve sifted through the facts and compiled them all in one handy place, so you can make the decision about when, how and if you should fly!
With advice on what to do before you go and some handy tips to make your in-flight experience as comfortable as can be; all you have to do is keep on reading and you’ll find yourself fully informed…
Flying high or laying low?
Don’t let worries about flying keep you grounded
With theories abounding on everything from solar radiation affecting your baby, to the increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and dehydration in-flight, it’s easy to Google your way into a frenzy when looking for information.
Being pregnant doesn’t have to mean staying grounded though; the first and best source of knowledge is and always will be your doctor or midwife. They know your medical history and will be able to field any questions you have about flying; helping you to make the right decision based on your pregnancy. They can also issue you with a fit to fly note should you need one.
Once you have your doctor’s approval, you need to think about timing…
First trimester: weeks 1 to 12
As morning sickness and the chance of miscarriage are increased in the first three months, this might not be the ideal time to fly; especially if you are suffering badly with nausea. Think about the flight; if it’s short haul you might not find it too uncomfortable, and if your pregnancy is free of complications there may be no good reason not to fly. Speak to your doctor if you have concerns.
Second trimester: weeks 13 to 26
This, for many, is the most comfortable time to fly. Morning sickness is fading and you are least likely to give birth during months three and six. Most women find weeks 18 to 27 the easiest time to travel, but it doesn’t take too long to feel quite uncomfortable on a plane, so check out our top tips below for making your flight smooth sailing.
Third trimester: week 27 onwards
If you are thinking of flying late in your pregnancy, you will almost certainly need a note from your doctor to confirm that you are fit to fly. The risks are greater the later your travel plans are; giving birth over the Atlantic is definitely not anyone’s idea of a fun time, so think carefully before committing to any travel at this stage. Most airlines will accept pregnant travellers up to 36 weeks, but after this you will find it hard to get on-board unless it’s an emergency.
Contact your airline:
The most important thing to do is check your airline’s policy for pregnant travellers. Most airlines will carry a single pregnancy up to 36 weeks and a multiple pregnancy up to 32 weeks; as long as the pregnancy has been ‘normal’ and free of complications. All airlines differ; some have much stricter dates, so a quick scan of their website or a call to customer services could save you a lot of stress and heartache at the check-in desk.
We’ve listed the policies of the main carriers from the UK below to get you started:
It is really important to double check that your travel insurance covers you before you fly. Giving birth abroad and being repatriated; let alone any complications that may arise, could run into thousands of pounds if you discover you’re not covered. Not all standard travel insurance policies cover pregnancy past a certain date, so give your insurer a quick call to get this sorted.
The first thing to do is head to your GP or midwife and get yourself a fit to fly note; it’s probably worth getting one of these even if you’re not in the late stages of pregnancy as it could save you a lot of hassle when you need it least. If you can, take a copy of your medical records with you; these will come in handy should you need emergency care while away.
Consider your chosen destination; things like clean water, standards of health care, distance to nearest hospital, vaccinations, and risk of malaria are key risk factors that you should weigh up. Worrying about the health of your baby is the last thing you want when you’re trying to relax and recharge your batteries; if you are yet to book, try and pick a place that won’t leave you stressing. For a full list of recommended vaccinations for any country head to Masta Travel Health, and for information on the safety of vaccinations during pregnancy visit the NHS website.
Make getting to the airport easy and breezy by booking yourself a meet and greet parking service. Save yourself the stress and strain of lugging your bags on and off public transport; let a friendly and helpful valet meet you at the terminal and park your car for you in a secure car park. That done, you are free to ditch your bags at check-in and head to the nearest comfortable seat!
Gone are the days of wistfully watching the world go by from a window seat; keeping yourself hydrated means drinking lots of water, which in turn means numerous trips to the ladies room. Book yourself an aisle seat in advance; not only will it make it easier to move around but it will mean you can stretch your legs and make yourself as comfortable as possible.
At the check-in desk let the crew know that you are pregnant; ask to ask to be added to the first boarding group. For the ultimate guarantee that you won’t have to fight your way onto the plane, or stand around for hours at the back of a queue, some airlines like EasyJet offer priority boarding in advance for a fee.
To avoid a stressful morning of rushing around, why not book yourself into an airport hotel? The peace of mind that comes from being only a few minutes from the airport will set you up for a relaxing morning and a stress-free flight!
Escape the hustle and bustle of the departure lounge by booking yourself into a VIP Airport Lounge. Recline in comfort with a paper, sink in to a sofa to catch up on some telly or indulge with some delicious complimentary treats and watch all your troubles melt away. No 1 Traveller have lounges at Birmingham, Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester and Edinburgh; they offer an oasis of calm in the madness of the airport!
Be careful when carrying heavy luggage; heaving around weighty bags could cause all kinds of problems, so make sure you look after yourself by asking for help or grabbing a trolley. Try to pack as light as possible; which we know is easier said than done!
Lastly, don’t be unrealistic with your time; the whole point of a break is to relax and unwind, not worry about being late or having to queue. Accept that everything might take you a little longer than usual and allow yourself extra time.
Mile high mum-to-be
For a more comfortable in-flight experience we suggest:
– Drinking lots of water. The last thing you or your little one needs is the onset of dehydration, so make sure you stock up on water for the flight.
– Flying can increase the risk of thrombosis and varicose veins ever so slightly; so wear support stockings or flight socks to help circulation and reduce risks. It’s best to pop them on when you’re still in bed in the morning and keep them on as long as you’re in the air.
– Move around as much as you can! Don’t stay stuck in your seat, get up whenever you can and wander around. Doing calf exercise will help relieve your tired legs and ward off any issues like deep vein thrombosis.
– Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes; plane seats are bad enough at the best of times but if you’ve got a little one on-board, you need to make sure you are as comfy as you can possibly be!
– Distract yourself! Lose yourself in a page-turning book, fill your iPod with your favourite songs to soothe your stresses away, or make use of the free on-board entertainment if you’re flying long haul.
– Make sure your seatbelt sits below your bump to provide the best protection.