Flying While Pregnant: Ideas on Staying Comfortable in Flight

Baby #2 is coming! Believe it or not (that’s me talking to myself) in just a few short weeks, we will be welcoming our second little adventurer into the world.  He or she has already been coming along on quite a few journeys, and has probably logged more miles than Bergen (now 3 years old) when I was pregnant with him.  We believe in the importance of traveling as a family, and more than ever we felt it was essential to build that bond as a family of 3 before adding another member.

I flew several times during the pregnancy, but it was on our last trip, a week in Oahu at about 28 weeks, that I really took notice and reflected on some best practices for air travel while pregnant.  Considering that I’ve had more discomfort during this pregnancy, I was somewhat anxious for how this last set of flights would go.  Not worried enough, of course to be alarmed or call anything off, but cautious.

In the end, I didn’t have much to worry about as the flights to and from Oahu went smoothly.  With a few implementations and considerations, I was comfortable, and the experience wasn’t too far from flying without a mini “passenger”:

Flying While Pregnant: Ideas on Staying Comfortable in Flight |

Talk to Doctor/Health Professional

Early on in the pregnancy, before we even thought about booking our trip to Oahu, I checked with my doctor and received her okay for air travel in general as well as a cut-off date of when she thought it was best to strictly stay close to home.  I continued to check-in with her as the pregnancy progressed to ensure that I was still on track health-wise, and reminded her of our plans.  Every pregnancy is unique, so I thought it was best to get specific advice based on my personal progress and circumstances.

Reserve an Aisle Seat

Being able to stretch my legs, and get up without bothering other passengers (even my own family members) was essential in making the flight a pleasant experience.  In terms of seat assignments, I also like being as close to the front of the plane as possible.  This way we are able to exit the plane quicker, you have access to the food and drink service first, and you can essentially choose between a quick dash to the front bathroom, or having the opportunity to stretch and move your legs by taking the long walk to the rear bathrooms.

Stay Hydrated

I made sure to take advantage of the drink service whenever the flight attendants came by, and had my own large water bottle filled so that I could sip often.  During the flight, I also avoided any drinks that would dehydrate me like coffee and caffeinated tea and soda.  All the liquid worked in my favor (thankfully there wasn’t a lot of turbulence restricting us to our seats) too because I then had to get up more often to use the facilities, which meant more leg stretching opportunities!

Move Often

I tried to make bathroom breaks last as long as possible by bringing Bergen along, walking slowly down the aisle, stopping at the galley to interact with the flight attendants, and allowing Bergen “extra” time to wash his hands and play in the mirror if other passengers weren’t waiting.  Like I mentioned earlier, I often chose to use the bathroom further away in order to have more opportunity for movement.  Also, just getting out of my seat to retrieve an item from our overhead bin served as a good break for my legs.  It’s okay to stand in the aisle for a little while–as long as you aren’t blocking the way!

Compression Gear

Due to some extremely stubborn varicose vein action on my entire lower body on the left side, I’ve been instructed by my doctor to wear a few different compression pieces throughout the day.  Flying was just like any other day, and in fact I wore compression stockings on both legs (normally I just wear one on the left leg) just to give some additional blood circulation to my right side.  Even if you don’t have varicose veins, with pregnant women being susceptible to blood clots, compression items (socks, stockings, sleeves, etc) can just be another tool in keeping the blood flowing.

Pack or Purchase Healthy Foods

Since I’m always hungry, pregnant or not, I always have a plan for food, but flying while pregnant makes it all the more important to have good, wholesome food on hand.  For this last 5+hour flight, we did a combination of bringing some food bought at the airport along, and purchasing snacks on board.  It really depends on the time of day, so consider your itinerary and plan ahead! At least with Alaska Airlines, our usual carrier of choice, there are decent food options, and they are not any more expensive (often less, actually) than what you’d find around the terminal.

Keep Mind Busy

On our most recent flight, since I had a 3-year old to entertain, it was easy for my mind to be occupied, and I really couldn’t think about being uncomfortable or be anxious about getting to our destination.  At about 24 weeks, I flew alone, and even though it was just a quick flight down to San Francisco, it helped to have a plan for keeping busy.  I made sure I had a book/reading material handy, took time to journal, and even cleared out my phone’s picture file! I wasn’t moving my body, but keeping my mind active and occupied allowed little time to fret about any minor discomfort that may have been occurring.

To the moms, Did you fly during pregnancy? What was your experience like? And to all the parents, did you take a babymoon (flying or driving)? I’d love to know where you traveled to! Let’s chat in the comments. 

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12 thoughts on “Flying While Pregnant: Ideas on Staying Comfortable in Flight

  1. You’ve touched on so much here! I agree about it all – the compression socks, moving when you can, sitting in the aisle, bringing snacks and staying hydrated. I would add: wait until the last possible minute to get on that flight (no need to rush to your seat!) and be careful not to cross your legs too much, even at the ankles.

    • Thanks, Meghan! Love your additions–i hate rushing onto the plane too–and I have the same rule for flying with a child 🙂 Such a good point about crossing legs–I tend to do that automatically so I’m constantly correcting myself.

      • Have you ever found that the attendants get annoyed when you don’t board with your children during pre-boarding? I always make up something like, “Oh, I was just changing a diaper”, but seriously – the last place I want to be for an extra 30 minutes is sitting on a plane with a toddler! 🙂

      • I haven’t felt that way (yet)…but it does help that my husband is usually there with us and be does board early(er) to get our stuff situated allowing us to just swoop in at the last minute. Boo on them for making you feel bad!

    • Thank you! You should give compression socks a try–I’m definitely sold on their usefulness–I now have multiple pairs–sleeves, thicker socks & stockings 🙂 Really helpful in keeping the blood circulating.

  2. We only have one child and we actually didn’t fly when my wife was pregnant. But I remember several car trips and the later in the pregnancy the more we stopped. I’m not the type of driver who likes to stop but the more pregnant my wife was the more I stopped. It got to where I would stop every hour and she’d walk around for 10 or 15 minutes.

    • What a guy! So nice of you to be willing to stop and so accommodating–the bathroom thing can be so frustrating–feels like you just went, and then…We haven’t done any high mileage road trips lately so it hasn’t been much of an issue–going to the mountains this weekend, but luckily that’s just a couple hours away!

  3. I flew a couple of times when I was pregnant and I wish I had thought about where I sat in the plane. I usually choose a window seat because I like to look outside but an aisle would have been way more practical:)

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