Travelling when pregnant part 2: the journey

Several months ago, I wrote an article on what to consider when booking a holiday when pregnant.  Hopefully you’ve taken all that advice on board and if you haven’t already had the baby (yes, I wrote that article quite a while ago now.  Sorry if this is no longer relevant, and congratulations!) then you’ll be anticipating your last pre-baby holiday but are perhaps feeling a little nervous…  So here are a few more pointers to help you on your way. This time, I’m focusing on how to get through the journey.

Pregnant in St Lucia

In St Lucia when pregnant with my daughter

1. Reserve your seats on the plane in advance.  Window seats offer an exciting view and a bit of peace away from the crowded aisle but they are a nightmare with a bump.  You have to try and slink your way round and over the people in the middle and end seats without shoving your bump in their faces, and you have to do this approximately every 10 minutes as the baby kicks on your bladder yet again and you need to make a rapid exit to the loo.  Forget the views of mountains and oceans: book an aisle seat so you can hot foot it to the toilet whenever you need without having to perform an apologetic Houdini act.

2. Wear sexy compression socks.  Pregnancy increases the risks of DVT and flying increases the risk of DVT so, although the risk is still pretty low if you are in good health, it is worth taking sensible precautions.  RCOG advice is to wear compression socks.  I wore some delightful thick black knitted knee socks on a flight to St Lucia when 21 weeks pregnant.  They looked terrible but I didn’t develop DVT :).  As an added bonus, my legs felt surprisingly refreshed when we arrived: my feet normally swell on planes and my legs feel stiff but they actually felt normal after a 9 hour flight.  It was almost worth the schoolgirl knee-length sock look to feel so sprightly at the end!  Do buy them before you get to the airport though.  If I remember rightly, you are supposed to put them on as soon as you get up on the morning of your flight rather than just as you board the plane.

3. Walk a mile or two.  Another reason to book an aisle seat is that you need to keep moving.  RCOG’s DVT prevention advice includes getting up for a wander every 30 mins while on a flight, and let’s face it when you’re sat in the window seat you just aren’t going to do that.  Plane seats are usually so confined that you will probably want to stretch your legs and free your bump this often anyway.  Get on your feet and go and explore that plane!

4. Drink lots, water only.  You will likely be avoiding or have cut down on alcohol anyway during pregnancy, but you might also want to consider cutting down or avoiding caffeine on your flight too given the diuretic effect it has.  Focus on water and juice, and keep drinking it regularly throughout the flight.  Make sure you buy a big bottle once you’ve gone through security and accept drinks from the flight attendants every time they offer.  And when you go on your regular walks up and down the aisle, nip down to the galley and get another glass of water. Yes, you’ll need to go to the loo a lot, but that’s no different to a regular day-in-the-life of a pregnant woman, is it?  And you’ve already booked an aisle seat so you can go there as much as you need anyway.

Pregnant in Sharm

In Sharm, Egypt, when pregnant with my first child

5. Snacks, snacks and more snacks.  You need to keep your energy levels up, and you may have slightly more refined/fussy tastes when pregnant, so stash a lot of favoured snacks in your hand luggage to keep your energy levels up.  I suppose I should have typed “healthy snacks” but I’m not a doctor and nor am I a women’s magazine editor, so if you want chocolate, I say take chocolate.  But if it is a long flight then make sure you have some savoury snacks too as even the most ardent fan can get a bit sick of yet another bar of Dairy Milk.

6. Wear your seatbelt.  Make sure that your belt goes under your bump and sits across your thighs rather than cutting across your tummy, exactly as you would when in the car.

7. Try not to watch a weepy in-flight movie.  If you’re anything like me, your emotions will be slightly more at the surface when pregnant and unless you like publicly displaying your best red-eyed, snotty, damp look you might prefer to watch Arnie in Terminator rather than Ali and Ryan in Love Story.

Of course, you may be travelling by car in which case this advice all still applies in an adapted form.  Give yourself longer than normal to make your journey so you can stop more frequently to go to the loo and stretch your legs.  Make sure your belt fits under your bump not across it.  Drink lots of water.  Eat lots of snacks, healthy or otherwise.

If travelling by train, an aisle seat facing forwards is probably your best bet and, as I’ve mentioned before, walk, drink, eat

Happy travelling!

Related link: Travelling when pregnant – what to know before you go

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