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Flying while pregnant

If you're pregnant, check out these tricks to staying comfort.

Flying while pregnant: Tips from a travel pro

Help for a whole lot of bellies expected to hit the skies this holiday season!

With the 2022 winter holidays expected to be some of the business air travel months since the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the airline industry, you can be certain bellies will be flying in November and December.

Seattle travel blogger and mother of three Debbie Dubrow has ample personal experience traveling while pregnant. Here are her tips for safe, and even pleasant, flying experience when the baby is still inside you rather than in a baby seat beside you.

Check Dubrow’s full series on  flying and traveling while pregnant

Before you go

Before you leave on any long flight, it is important to consult your doctor and get her best advice about how to fly safely. She may want you to wear supportive hose, take a baby aspirin or do special exercises to avoid blood clots.

Your doctor may also have special advice or disallow travel in small planes with unpressurized cabins. It is useful to get a doctor’s note stating your due date and her opinion that it is safe for you to travel in case there are any questions during your trip.

You should also check airline policy on each airline (including any subsidiaries or code shares run by a different airline) regarding flying while pregnant. Some airlines do not restrict travel at all, while others may require a doctor’s note or may not allow pregnant travelers to travel close to their due date. If you are traveling very close to the cutoff date, you might want to bring along a printed copy of the written airline policy as well.

Where to sit

You will be most comfortable in an aisle seat (preferably in the bulkhead) and should request one when you purchase your ticket. If no aisle seats are available, you may be able to arrange an aisle seat when you check in at your gate.

What to bring

In addition to whatever you would normally pack in your carry-on, you might want to bring along a few extra comforts:

  • Bring healthy, filling snacks. Even a short flight might be delayed, and you’ll probably want to avoid overdoing on the salty or sweet snacks served onboard.

  • Bring an inflatable pillow or small blanket (a shawl also works well) that you can use to support your back. If the plane is cold, you can also use the blanket or shawl to help you deal with varying temperatures.

  • Buy extra water in the airport (some flights stock only a small amount of bottled water) or, to save money, pack an empty water bottle and fill it after you clear security.

Day of flight

You’ve planned, you’ve packed; now there are a few steps you can take to make to make flying while pregnant go smoothly:

  • Plan to arrive at the airport early to avoid making a last minute rush to a distant gate.

  • Stretch before getting on the plane.

  • If possible, get out of your seat to walk up and down the aisles every half-hour or so. If you must remain seated, flex and extend or circle your ankles (being careful not to give yourself leg cramps).

  • Drink lots of water. It is easy to get dehydrated on a long flight.

Flying with other children too?

According to an article published in the New York Times in mid-November, 2022, security around traveling with children is increasing. Be sure when you pack for kids that you include identity and proof-of-relationship documentation such a passports and birth certificates. Without proof of parentage or that a child belongs with you, you may be pulled from the security line by T.S.A agents and/or find yourself in a tense conversation with airport police.

A version of this article first appeared in Seattle’s Child Magazine in 2014.

More at Seattle’s Child:

“Sleep and travel: How to Cope”