Have bump, will travel: pregnancy travel tips
Veteran traveller Hannah Symister shares her top travelling tips for the mama-to-be.
I will never forget flying to London from Morocco early on in my pregnancy with my first child. We had just enjoyed a very relaxing time away in Marrakech, spending most of our time next to a glorious pool which is about as blissful as you can get when pregnant in hot weather. We boarded our plane to the UK in the afternoon. The first hour of the flight was uneventful, but by hour two it was game over, and I was kicking myself for feasting on Moroccan delicacies a couple of hours before. It wasn’t pretty. But don’t let this put you off travel! Being pregnant doesn’t mean putting life on hold. I flew dozens of times when I was pregnant with my children, and the majority of flights were long-haul.
If you’re not a regular flyer and you’re considering a babymoon abroad or you need to travel during your pregnancy, taking a flight can raise a whole lot of questions. But if you’ve had a healthy pregnancy so far, flying while pregnant is safe for you and your baby, and with some planning and preparation, it can be such a rewarding experience. Here are a few things I’ve learned in my many travels.
Check in with your doctor
Even if you’ve had a straightforward pregnancy thus far, it is really important to have a health check with your GP before you fly. A certificate or letter from your doctor or midwife stating you are fit for travel may also be required if you are in the later stages of pregnancy. If you’re flying in your third trimester, make sure you check with your airline prior to travel, as every airline has their own restrictions for what date you’re allowed to fly up to, particularly for long-haul flights. I flew from Korea to New Zealand when I was 32 weeks with minimal fuss, but I was asked for a doctor’s certificate for clearance at check-in, which thankfully I had.
Time your travels
If you’re struggling with morning sickness, then flying abroad in your first trimester may not be enjoyable, let alone desirable. Tiredness may also be a near-constant companion in your first 12 weeks. This is absolutely fine if you’re the kind of person who can sleep anywhere, including a noisy plane, but terrible if you’re on an evening flight and you’re
a light sleeper. You may want to choose a flight that takes off in the morning, after a good night’s sleep. I have wobbled off far too many flights at 3am feeling queasy – and that was without a baby in my tummy! Travelling in your second trimester is generally considered the most opportune time, especially as your energy levels are at their highest.
Comfort is key
Going abroad is exciting. Regardless of the reason for your journey, travelling overseas can be an incentive to get out your favourite dress and apply that bright red lippy. I get that, but don’t wear anything too snug. Close-fitting clothes are not going to do you any favours, especially if you’re in the later stages of pregnancy. In fact, anything too tight may turn you into a crazed hulk with a compulsive desire to tear off your clothes come the end of a flight. Stretchy, comfortable clothing will help you feel more relaxed. If you still want to look a million dollars at the airport, then pack your comfort clothes in your hand luggage and change in the bathrooms before you board. Slippers, despite how hilarious they look, are also a win as your feet and ankles expand during the flight making tight-fitting shoes extremely uncomfortable.
Stretch it out
Ever gone to the bathroom on a flight only to find a bunch of older ladies doing yoga poses and other stretches at the back of the plane and through the aisles? Well, this is your time to join in. Go on, try a few lunges. Yes, you might feel a little self-conscious at first, but sitting still for hours won’t do you any favours. Pregnant women also have a higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) while flying. Standing up and stretching regularly will help prevent this.
Pick your seat, if possible
The aisle seat is a great pick for a pregnant woman. Trust me, you’ll want to thank me personally after you get up to go to the loo for the third time in an hour. Trying to climb over two people can be hilarious at the best of times. Add a giant tummy and you have a viral You Tube clip in the making. If you can’t get an aisle seat, you obviously just need to politely ask the people next to you to let you through.
This may sound counterproductive after my point above, but staying hydrated will improve your long-haul flight experience. It’s also another DVT preventative. You’ve probably heard this several times before, but it’s often the simple things we forget. I’ve been offered a large bottle of water many times by flight attendants as soon as I mention that I’m pregnant. Don’t be shy, make sure you ask for water as regularly as you feel the need. And befriending a flight attendant is never a bad thing.
Pack your medication and beware of vaccinations
If you’re on any specific medication, make sure you are amply supplied before travelling, as you may not be able to get it so readily overseas, or even at all. If you are going somewhere that requires vaccinations before visiting, then you may need to change your plans. Most travel vaccinations are not safe to take while pregnant.
Make sure you’re covered
Insurance when you are pregnant can be a little confusing. If you are flying to the USA, for example, insurance will still cover the likes of delayed flights or lost luggage, but if you happen to go into labour in your travels, you won’t be covered by health insurance as pregnancy is classed as a pre-existing medical condition. This is definitely something you need to look into with your personal insurance agent before travelling. Every company offers something slightly different so a little research is always helpful, as you want to get the most cover possible regardless of circumstance.
|Hannah Symister is a mother of two young boys and a travel photojournalist. She took nine long-haul flights to five different countries when pregnant with her first baby, and that still didn’t get the travel bug out of her system. Home-base for Hannah is Auckland, by the beach, where she writes her blog cocostravelbag.com.|
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 42 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW