Traveling with a belly can make expectant moms a nervous wreck. According to the American Pregnancy Association, it is generally safe to travel during your pregnancy up to 36 weeks along as long as you get the OK from your obstetrician. Air travel is generally most comfortable during the second trimester, as you’re likely past the morning sickness stage that’s common during the first trimester, and your uterus is not as large as it will be in the third trimester. Once you’ve booked your flight, and you’re ready to travel, incorporate these tips to arrive at your destination healthy and in good spirits.
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Wear Comfortable Shoes
Your feet are most likely swollen in addition to your growing uterus, and the last thing you want to wear is confining attire. Opt for loose clothing and a pair of comfortable, breathable sneakers or shoes. Athletic pants or a flowing skirt are ideal if you need to make frequent visits to the bathroom, as you’ll have minimum space once on the airplane. When booking your flight, try to get an aisle seat, and take advantage of early boarding options.
Pack Your Own Food
Fast food joints in airports and prepared airline meals are neither the tastiest, nor the healthiest for pregnant moms. Pack non-perishable, healthy snacks in your carry-on, such as dried apricots, walnuts, soy chips or healthy granola bars. Add a real meal in an insulated lunch box, and keep it chilled with a disposable ice pack. Dr. Sears, pediatrician and expert in parenting advice, urges pregnant women to drink plenty of caffeine-free, non-alcoholic fluids before, during and after the flight. Airline air dries the mucus membranes of the mouth and nose, which can result in dehydration.
Bring a Small Pillow
Make that long flight more comfortable for both you and your baby by bringing a compact pillow on the plane. A quality support travel pillow will feature support for your neck while keeping your cervical column in perfect alignment. If your feet are prone to swelling, or if they dangle off the seat, pack an inflatable foot rest to take the strain off of your back. TravelSmith.com carries blow-up foot rests ($19) that can improve your sitting position, minimize back strain, boost circulation and reduce swelling in the feet. Elsewhere, inflatable foot rests can range from $10 to $30. Lumbar cushions offer proper spinal positioning while giving your back much-needed support. Travel pillows can range in price from $10 to over $100, depending on quality and versatility. Tempurpedic.com offers many varieties of versatile travel pillows ($49-$79), many which offer lumbar cushioning, neck support, leg spacing and the perfect balance of softness and muscle support.
Carry Important Documentation
Along with your driver’s license or other form of identification, pregnant women should always carry a copy of their prenatal medical records tucked into their carry-on. If a problem occurs during your travels, your doctor will be better able to determine your state of health and can communicate with your obstetrician back home. Also be aware of shoulder surfing in crowded airports and while onboard. Women’s Adventure Magazine recommends using privacy filters on your cell phone and laptop to prevent strangers from stealing your information. Use an identity theft protection service, such as LifeLock, to keep your private information safe.
Move Around Frequently
Blood clots can form in the legs during travel due to being immobile in a cramped space for an extended period of time, according to the American Society of Hematology. Pregnant women are at an increased risk for a thromboembolism due to the lower cabin pressure inside the plane. Get up and move around frequently once the plane has taken off and the captain clears you to unfasten your safety belt. Stretch your calves, and take brief walks down the aisle once every hour. Ask your obstetrician about wearing compression stockings or more fashionable footless maternity tights during your flight to help improve your circulation, prevent swelling and reduce strain on the legs, ankles and feet. RUPreggers.com offers a wide selection of maternity compression legwear and socks in a palette of fashion-forward hues and materials. These maternity duds range in price from $10 to $50 and provide light true gradient compression, meaning the “squeeze” is tightest at the ankle and gradually decreases as the material moves up the leg.