Pregnancy isn’t an excuse to stop traveling. Whether you’re going on an exciting adventure, baby moon, or just visiting family, there’s no reason you can’t fly. While it might not be the most comfortable thing to do while pregnant, it’s safe and definitely better than sitting in a car or putting your life on hold while you create your child. I put together some advice on flying during pregnancy to make sure you stay healthy while making your way to your destination.
What to Do:
- Double check with your doctor. While flying doesn’t pose any real threats to you or the baby, it’s always good to double check with your doctor. If you’re having a healthy pregnancy, there’s nothing for you to worry about. But if you’ve had any complications it might be best to stay out of the air.
- Try to fly in the second trimester- While it’s not necessary to fly during this time, this is the best, easiest time for you. For me, I was over the morning sickness of the first trimester, but still wasn’t so big that I was uncomfortable. So if you’re planning a trip try to choose this time for your own comfort.
- Make sure to pack your prenatal vitamins and other essentials.
- Pack some healthy foods or foods you know you enjoy- It’s hard to find healthy food in an airport, or at least food that won’t cost a fortune. Or, if you’re still feeling queasy, make sure you bring snacks that sound good to you. This will keep you as comfortable as possible.
- Opt out of metal detectors or body scanners- this is up to you, but I did. It does mean that you’ll have to take longer going through security and you’ll be patted down rather vigorously, but for me, it was worth it having the peace of mind that I wasn’t going through the machines.
- Stay hydrated
- Keep on your feet as much as you can.
- Do some exercises while flying.
Examples of Seated Exercises:
- Leg Lifts- While sitting, lift your legs and hold a few inches off the ground. Do a couple of reps, using your belly to hold your legs.
- Knee Circles- Lift your legs the same way you did number 1. Make a circle with both of your knees, switch directions.
- Crossover Lift- Simply cross and uncross your legs a few times. This might be difficult depending on how close your neighbors are, how long your legs are, and how round your belly is.
- Ankle rotations- rotate your ankles in circles.
- Neck Circles- simply circle your neck slowly, stretch all of your muscles. Switch directions.
- Shoulder rolls- Roll your shoulders in circles front to back.
When going through security I decided not to go through the body scanner or metal detector. They say that they’re safe, but, I still didn’t like the idea of going through it. Later, I spoke to my nurse about my possible overreaction. She agreed that there’s no reason to take the risk if it’s not necessary. The two airports I flew out of: Buffalo-Niagara and Dallas-Love Field, were extremely receptive of my requests.
Both times I politely asked the TSA agent if I could opt out of the screening. Both men that I spoke with were very nice about it. They told me, again, that I’d need to be patted down instead, which I already knew. They had me step to the side and wait while they flagged down a female agent who could help me.
Once the female was free, she called me over. I walked through a small area where the agent let me slide past the metal detectors or body scanners to where they pat you down and search your bags if needed.
Luckily Steve was with me and was able to grab my backpack and laptop while I was being patted down. Otherwise it might have been just sitting on the belt, out of my site for the 10 or so minutes. This is probably my one negative about this experience. I would not have felt comfortable being away from my phone, IDs, cash, and computer for that long.
I was then pretty aggressively patted down. Both women were professional but friendly with me. After I told them, apologized actually, that my jeans were not buttoned (they were held together by a hair-tie, because at 22-23 weeks my jeans were rather snug around my belly), they laughed with me and comforted me that I was a trooper for even wearing jeans still–buttoned or not.
I thought this experience would be much more humiliating. I’d read online that some TSA agents were rude to women who opted out. My experience was nothing but pleasant. Maybe if the airports I had flown out of had been busier the agents would have been more annoyed to accommodate my request. I think most of them were understanding of my concern and had no problem letting me choose, what I see as, a more invasive form of security.
While waiting for the plane and on the plane, I made sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Travel dehydrates me normally, but especially when I’m pregnant I find I need a lot more water. I also had to make sure I was walking around a lot. Since I spent most of the day sitting, I walked a lot or tried to stand while we were waiting. On the plane I made sure to get up and take a leisurely stroll to the toilet often. I mean, I couldn’t really be sitting that long anyway because, you know, I was trying to stay hydrated. I needed to visit the bathroom a lot anyway.
Other than my pat down at security, getting more moving time on the plane, and not be able to button my pants, my experience flying while pregnant wasn’t much different than normal. If you’re having a healthy pregnancy and know how to keep your body healthy while traveling, there’s no reason to avoid flying during pregnancy.
Just take a few precautions and you’ll arrive at your destination safe and sound. Happy travels!