During the first twelve weeks of my pregnancy I took sixteen flights for six different trips. Some went well, some were challenging and a couple were downright dreadful. The positive from all of this is that I have extensively sampled what it is like to fly in the first trimester both for leisure and business, and hope that from this I can at least share what I have learned along the way. Consider me your pregnant guinea pig, learning the flight mistakes so you don’t have to.
Before I begin though, there’s one important thing to note here. No two pregnancies are the same, and every women may have different experiences when it comes to travelling whilst expecting. My experience may be entirely different from yours, but I hope that there are perhaps some things I have learned which can be a benefit for those embarking on an early adventure. Please make sure you speak to your doctor regarding any specific medical concerns or health issues ahead of a trip.
So, if you have recently discovered you have a little one on the way, and need to travel for work or fancy a week away for leisure, here are my top insights to make the journey as comfortable and pleasant as possible.
Tell the crew
I can’t stress this one enough. If you let the crew know you’re expecting and how you are feeling, they will definitely ensure you have what you need to make the trip as comfortable as possible. When I was suffering from severe morning sickness (I am talking being sick upwards of six times a day and keeping nothing down) the kind crew let me board early and gave me water as soon as I was on board.
Other kind gestures I have been grateful for have been extra pillows, moving to seats with more room or easier bathroom access. Side note – thanks to pregnancy hormones, the smallest kindness from strangers in these situations may bring you out in unnecessary tears. Pack the extra Kleenex just in case and have your other half practice a ‘what can I say’ look for the now alarmed and confused cabin crew.
Book an aisle seat
On that note, if you have the chance to choose or pre-book a seat, do it. Go for an aisle seat. You will need it for regular bathroom runs and getting up to move and walk around on longer trips.
If you are not feeling well, carrying a heavy bag while wheeling along a suitcase through the airport is something you definitely want to avoid. Take what you need only, and if you are genuinely struggling, ask for help.
With that in mind, it definitely make sense to take with you anything you rely on at home which you may not be able to get abroad. Think prenatal vitamins, stretch mark cream, sickness tablets and snacks you can stomach.
Pack your own foods
So airline food is definitely improving, but the reality is that in the first trimester there may be few foods you are able to stomach or stand. Bear this in mind and prepare so that you are not stuck on a long-haul flight without adequate nutrition. Trust me, nothing is worse than a long flight when you are already sick than a long flight where you feel sick but you also cannot eat anything the airline provides and get hangry. If you are still unsure, ask my husband how well our flight to New York went! Bland crackers, beige foods and ginger biscuits are a great staple to bring on-board.
Refillable water bottle
In addition to foods, make sure you have a good quality refillable water bottle with you so you can keep sipping and keep hydrated between drinks and meal services. Often airlines don’t bring round water until the plane is cruising which can sometimes take a good forty minutes. Stay ahead of this and keep a filled bottle with you at all times.
On that note, flying dehydrates you, jet lag does too. Make sure you drink water, and then drink some more during pregnancy travel. It may feel like all you do is drink and then pee, but it’s best for baby if you keep yourself topped up water wise.
Pillows, socks and loose clothes
Comfort is key during this time, especially when tight waistbands can make a sensitive stomach feel even worse. Wear loose and layered clothing, compression socks for long flights and pack a comfortable pillow or two to make your seat the best it can be for the duration of your trip.
Take it easy Travelling is normally tiring, so there’s no wonder it suddenly feels like a serious effort once you discover you are expecting. Give yourself time to get through the airport, manage your day and reduce your activities where possible. The first trimester is basically a twelve week blur of naps, nausea and excitement so if you add the joys of jet lag into the mix, two naps a day isn’t actually that extreme and I think should be recommended to everyone. Allow yourself the rest and take it easy on yourself.