There are a lot of misconceptions about flying whilst pregnant, with some people thinking it's off limits altogether! Thankfully, in most cases, you can fly right up to 28 weeks without a doctors note and then up to 37 weeks with a doctors note (or 34 weeks if carrying twins).
This means the adventure doesn't need to stop when you fall pregnant and by taking a few extra precautions, you can enjoy flying just as much as before.
It goes without saying that you should speak to your midwife or doctor before embarking on any travel plans as sometimes there are some additional things you need to take into consideration. When pregnant, you are more susceptible to blood clots therefore it's important to discuss this with your healthcare provider. For shorter flights, then keeping active on the plane is usually enough to alleviate any risks. However, for longer flights, a course of aspirin can help thin the blood, as well as flight socks or in my case, daily blood thinning injections. You midwife or doctor will be able to discuss the best course of action for you.
We travelled a few times whilst I was pregnant, the first trip being a short flight from Scotland to Spain when I was around 6 weeks pregnant. We then flew to Hong Kong when I was 18 weeks pregnant, then onto New Zealand at 19 weeks before flying back to Scotland when I was 23 weeks pregnant. I definitely felt a big difference on the flights between 18 and 23 weeks; I felt like my bump really grew during our holiday in NZ which put extra strain on my back and meant the long-haul journey home wasn't the comfiest. Personally I wouldn't have wanted to fly long haul much later in my pregnancy than 23 weeks as it I did find the flight home particularly uncomfortable and got almost zero sleep! There were a few things I learned on these flights which definitely helped me when flying, so provided you are given the OK to fly then these tips should help you too!
1. keep active
As pregnant woman are at a higher risk for developing blood clots it is important not to stay seated for too long. Walk up and down the aisle as often as you can and when seated do regular calf exercises by flexing and pointing your toes. You need to keep the blood circulating around your body so every movement helps.
2. stay hydrated
It's so important to stay hydrated when flying. I filled up 2 of our reusable water bottles for the flight and constantly accepted water that was on offer with either the meal or drinks cart. Staying hydrated can help prevent the swelling of your hands, feet and legs; as well as helping to prevent blood clots.
3. pick your seat strategically
As you will be drinking a lot of water on the flight which means frequent trips to the bathroom, and with the added requirement of staying active, the last thing you want is to be trapped in the middle of a row. You don't want to have to worry about waking up or clambering over other passengers. Always try to get an aisle seat and an emergency exit seat with additional legroom would be an added bonus!
4. pack light
I'm a self confessed over packer; I like to prepare for all eventualities. Snow jacket for Thailand? Bikini for Norway? Well ya just never know! However, when you are pregnant you are already carrying around a baby, a placenta and what feels like a bathtub's worth of additional fluid so think carefully about what else you need to bring. Even if you have case on wheels, it can still be physically draining pulling more additional weight. Only pack the essentials and trust me, your back will thank you for it!
5. bring snacks
Do you know what's worse than a hormonal pregnant woman?
A hungry, hormonal pregnant woman.
An empty stomach can make things like morning sickness worse, and drops in blood sugar levels can leave you feeling faint or lightheaded. In addition to bringing water on the flight, make sure you have some snacks too as these can help keep any nausea at bay. Sometimes the inflight meal may not be quite what you are after (our Hong Kong to New Zealand flight served congee and it really turned my stomach!) so having your own snacks readily available can really help!