by Aarti Kapur Singh
Check out 7 critical flying tips for pregnant women that will help ease the stress of would-be mommies
Travelling during your pregnancy can sometimes be stressful — but it doesn’t have to be. As a matter of fact, it is neither necessary not possible and practical for a healthy pregnant woman to stay at home during the full term of her pregnancy. In fact, a lot of expecting couples also go for ‘babymoons’ – a getaway to recharge and reconnect before baby is born. Shahid & Mira Kapoor did that; so did Saif Ali Khan and Kareena. It is also absolutely safe to fly during pregnancy unless you have had some medical complication like spotting, diabetes, high blood pressure, excessive morning sickness, a previous miscarriage or a previous early birth. “Flying during the second trimester is the safest and most comfortable. Most airlines allow you to travel with them up to 32 to 36 weeks,” says Dr Mangala Singh, a Chandigarh-based gynecologist.
However, it is best to consult your doctor before you plan a trip. Do check with the airline prior to booking flights to see their policies for pregnant travelers. Also, I can say this from personal experience – a letter from your doctor conforming that it is safe for you to travel is required from 28 weeks onward.
Here are 7 critical flying tips for pregnant women that will help ease the stress of would-be mommies and make air travel a breeze
While travel is safe for the vast majority of pregnant women, things can happen. Plan ahead by knowing what your emergency medical options are en route and at your destination — especially if you are travelling overseas. Keep a copy of your prenatal documents on hand. And speak with your doctor about warning signs or things to look out for. Knowing you have a contingency plan in place can give you peace of mind while away from home.
While light to moderate exercise is encouraged during pregnancy, heavy weight lifting is a definite no! Avoid packing overstuffed bags that need to be hoisted up into overhead bins or onto airport scales. Speak with your healthcare provider about how much weight is appropriate for you to lift at your stage during pregnancy. And do not take unnecessary risks. “Packing according to a color palette so that clothes can be mixed and matched, easily re-worn, and paired with the same shoes and accessories is a good way to cut down on the amount of stuff needed to take with you,” says Mandira Bedi, on her favorite tip to pregnant travelers, adding “multi-functional items like a soft jacket that can double as a blanket or pillow are a great idea.” Depending on where you travel, many items — like shampoo or toothpaste — can also be purchased or found at your destination, allowing you to leave those non-essentials behind.
3. Airport Dressing:
Despite how paparazzi hound celebs for airport dressing pictures, it is a practical concern for a pregnant woman. Wearing loose and layered clothing is a good idea as they can be adjusted if it becomes warm or cold during the flight. Your circulation changes during pregnancy, and that can lead to things like swelling and headaches. Pregnant women are in a “hypercoagulable state,” making them more susceptible to clotting, and this condition is more likely to worsen when sitting for long periods of time. Compression socks or “support hose” can help keep the blood flowing, as well as help reduce other pregnancy-related discomforts like restless leg syndrome. A pair of loose-fitting shoes to keep your feet comfortable in case of in-flight swelling.
4. Bring Essentials:
Airplane cabins typically have low humidity levels, making it easier to get dehydrated during longer flights. For most travelers the effects are negligible, but for pregnant women, getting dehydrated can compound symptoms like nausea, fatigue, cramping and constipation — not to mention increase risks of complications like preterm labor. Make sure you always have water with you, and take small sips every few minutes even when you’re not thirsty.
Similarly, an empty stomach can make issues like morning sickness worse, and drops in blood sugar can lead to feeling faint. Be sure to have healthy snacks or ginger candy on hand and within easy reach to keep nausea at bay and blood sugar levels relatively stable.
Keep a moisturizer handy to apply and reapply so your skin doesn’t itch because of dryness caused by the air-conditioning or dehydration.
If possible, carry a small lumbar pillow for back comfort.
5. Checking In:
Airport security scanners are absolutely safe for the unborn baby as is travelling in a pressurized cabin. However, flying in a small aircraft without cabin pressure is not recommended because in that case, your body will have to work harder to provide you and your baby with sufficient oxygen.
Not only will you almost certainly need to get up to go to the restroom during flights, but you’ll also want to get up and stretch your legs. Snagging an aisle seat can give you a little more freedom to get up and move around if you need to — not to mention, a more harmonious experience with fellow passengers in the seats next to you.
6. In the Plane:
One unfortunate side effect of both pregnancy and adequate hydration is needing to go to the bathroom frequently. You don’t want to be caught staring angrily at that “fasten seat-belt” light on a turbulent flight while your bladder is being jumped on like a trampoline. Take advantage of restrooms when they are accessible, even if you don’t think you need to go. Before leaving a restaurant, the airport, museum, etc., make a point to swing by the facilities “just in case.” Your bladder will thank you.
A seat adjacent to the aisle will not only grant you easier access to the bathroom, but it will ensure that you have plenty of room to stretch out your legs and take frequent strolls down the plane aisles to prevent blood clots.
Regular blood circulation will keep you comfortable while flying. Walking around for a couple of minutes or stretching a little every hour considerably reduce chances of blood clots, swelling of feet and ankles and cramps in your legs. This is another reason why an aisle seat is recommended so it’s easier to get in and out of your seat, and do you don’t have to bother anyone if they’re sleeping..
The seat belt should be adjusted under your bump and across your pelvis. Seat belt extenders should be requested if required. Wear your seat belt over your lower lap/upper thighs, on the hipbones below your belly.
Get up to walk around at least once per hour to keep up your circulation and guard against blood clots and deep vein thrombosis.
An airplane’s re-circulated cabin air certainly doesn’t leave you feeling hydrated. Add in your body’s pregnancy needs, and it’s likely you’ll quickly become parched at 30,000 feet. While it’s essential to drink plenty of water at all times during pregnancy, it’s especially important during travel. According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women should drink eight to 12 glasses of water per day in order to ensure that their amniotic fluid is renewed and breast milk production is on track, among other health benefits. Thankfully, some of that water can be used to wash down periodic snacks. “It is a good idea to bring along your own healthy snacks that are part of your usual diet. Whole grain granola bars, mini-boxes of raisins and pre-cut carrots are some tasty, travel-friendly options,” says Avni Kaul. Also, always carry essential medications and vitamins in an easily accessible way in your handbag.
Key points to remember:
- It is advisable for pregnant women not to fly to disease-prone areas and where health care may not be good enough.
- Pregnant women should ideally opt for two shorter flights over a direct one when flying long distances so that they may get out and stretch their limbs while resting more comfortably.
- It makes sense to book a refundable ticket because your health condition fluctuates from day to day when you are pregnant.
- Check your insurance cover before travelling so that medical help is available in case of emergency
Ask for help:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you could use it. Traveling can be stressful, and pregnancy adds on layers of complications and potential risks. Forgot your snack and now feeling faint? Ring the flight attendant to ask for a glass of juice. Not sure you should lift your bag? Enlist someone nearby to assist you. Feeling overheated and need a seat on the subway? Don’t hesitate to ask someone to give up their seat. Even if you don’t yet look pregnant, if you explain the situation, people are almost always happy to help.
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