It’s awesome to find out you’re pregnant! But, it can be absolutely stressful if you need to fly and aren’t sure about timing and how you’ll feel.
No matter what compels you to fly, your frequent flyer miles do not have to collect dust while you’re expecting. I fell pregnant in 2021, after over a year living in the pandemic bunkered down, I was ready to get out and travel.
Yes, having a baby does change your life and lifestyle. But, you don’t have to permanently ground yourself because you have a bun in the oven. Don’t skip out on a bachelorette party or put the kibosh on that vacation you desperately need. You can fly while pregnant without worry!
General Guidelines To Know When Trying To Fly While Pregnant
So, when should you fly while pregnant? Honestly- any time! According the Mayo Clinic you can actually fly up to 36 weeks along. So, essentially, you can keep your suitcase ready to go until it’s better served packing for the hospital. Unless you’ve been advised by your doctor that you should stay grounded, you can comfortably fly at any stage.
In my two pregnancies, I’ve flown in every trimester. I’ve attended weddings domestically in my third trimester, took an international trip in my second trimester with a baby in tow and even took a trip post-partum with my 8 week old. The only thing that really changed for me was not being able to enjoy a 10am airport beer. Well that, and I needed to use the restroom a lot more depending on how far along I was.
So, ready to fly while pregnant? Here’s a trimester by trimester guide to help you fly in comfort, mama.
Flying in the First Trimester
If you’ve got a trip planned for your first trimester, you’ll want to account for is nausea and fatigue. Everything smells awful, nothing tastes good and may be dealing with some severe morning (all-day?) sickness. To combat nausea, bringing some ginger chews or nausea lozenges for pregnant women. Bringing some candies can really help combat the need to puke. Bring snacks that are easy on your stomach like saltine crackers, granola bars and pretzels. Mints, chapstick or essential oils like peppermint or lemon can also help to have on hand if smells are really getting to you.
Pack a neck pillow, compression socks, and your own water bottle so you can fill up with an electrolyte drink of your choice. Dehydration is worse when you travel, but worse still for those of us who have to fly while pregnant. I found it helpful to bring drink packets with me, like Gatorade. Water and I weren’t friends, so powders that are TSA-friendly make the water more palatable. My nausea was fierce in both pregnancies.
My biggest tip for you, is to plan for extra time at the airport. You may need some extra time to hit up a bathroom, put your feet up and find food that doesn’t make you want to hurl. If you have general boarding like on Southwest, be sure to check in early for your flight. When you arrive, you can board early by request if you feel comfortable asking!
Flying in the Second Trimester
This is the sweet spot to fly while pregnant for most people. You’ll be between your 14th and 26th week of pregnancy during this stage. But, you may still be dealing with some serious fatigue and nausea depending on when you travel. For me, my nausea and fatigue didn’t let up until 14-16 weeks both times, but your experience may vary.
If you’re going to fly later in pregnancy, you’ll likely be showing around week 18-20. Most people are accommodating to any lady with a bump. Depending on where you carry your weight, this would be a great time to invest in maternity clothes. Leggings and compression socks are perfect for flight days. You’ll likely still need to use the bathroom more than most. So, plan for an aisle seat from here on out!
You also may find your appetite has returned. But, if you go too long without a snack, your energy crash will be more severe than before. Like with trimester one, plan snacks that appeal to you. You never know if you’ll be stuck on the jetway for an extra 40 minutes. Going without food or water while pregnant can make your discomfort way more severe.
Flying in the Third Trimester
Nervous about having to fly in the third trimester of pregnancy? Don’t be! Most airlines won’t bat an eye until you’re really far along. If you’re allowed to board early, take the flight staff up on their generosity. Being able to secure an aisle seat or one near a bathroom will be easier on everyone. Not saying you’ll be as awkward and clumsy as me, but plan your seat around a bathroom!
Before you even board, take some time to stretch out. I did some impromptu yoga in the bathroom, doing a few pregnancy safe stretches in the bathroom or boarding area can save your lower back on a cramped flight. Honestly, that was the worst part of flying in pregnancy for me- the long periods of time you have to sit in a cramped seat.
My biggest tip to fly while pregnant is to avoid needing to nap on your flight if possible. While some people can sleep sitting up with a good neck pillow, I have struggled with this. At this stage, you won’t be able to hunch over on your tray table. Try to rest up before you leave and plan time after your get to your hotel to recoup.
So, When’s The Best Time To Fly While Pregnant?
If you’re like me, you’re overanalyzing about when to fly while pregnant. Unfortunately, every woman and every pregnancy is different. Some women love being able to fly before they’re burgeoning with a giant bump later on. Others can’t imagine going somewhere and not being able to enjoy the food in the first trimester.
For you, it’s impossible to predict just how you will feel if you’re attempting to book travel. My advice? Book it anyway.
It won’t be perfect. You may want to throw up with the smells, or your feet may be super tired as you waddle to and fro. The best you can do is plan ahead, give yourself ample time and give yourself grace.
I firmly adhere to the fact that the best time to travel is now. Your life won’t be on hold when baby gets here, so don’t stop being you. As a mama myself, though trying to fly while pregnant was exhausting, it was part of my commitment to still pursue my own passions throughout motherhood.
So, if you’re wanting to fly, don’t wait. Consult your doctor if you have concerns, but book that trip! Any time is a good time to fly.