Travelling while pregnant can be tough. It definitely adds some different elements to the already tiring activity of flying.
I travelled in both my first trimester (5-9 weeks) to New Zealand and in my second trimester (19-20 weeks) to Maui. These are things I learned during those trips.
1. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes when pregnant and flying.
When you’re pregnant and going to be walking a lot through airports and likely at your vacation destination, wear good shoes. I wore my cute sneakers on our trip to New Zealand (three airport connections) and again on our trip to Maui (two airport connections). These were travel days that lasted anywhere from 10 to 23 hours. In NZ, we walked upwards of 22,000 steps a day many days.
The flip flops may seem like a good idea because they’ll let your swollen feet breathe. The ballet flats certainly look cute. The strappy sandals are certainly stylish and allow airflow. But walking through airports, standing in long lines on concrete and tile floors, the pressure changes of going up and down in an airplane, and the hours of walking around exploring cool places can cause a lot of issues. Without comfortable shoes that provide good support, you’re going to have a lot more than sore feet after that day of travelling. Your back, your hips, and your shoulders will all be sore if you wear the wrong shoes while flying.
I made the mistake of wearing my flip flops to the airport for our trip to Maui. Standing in line to check baggage, standing in line to go through security, hurrying through the airport to make our connection, and then standing in line again to pick up our bags and wandering through the airport parking lot to find the rental car left me so sore. Sitting in an airplane for six hours was bad enough (and my feet got cold too), but the extra strain from poor shoes did not help or my body or my mood. When we flew home, I remembered to wear my running shoes and, ladies, it was so, so much better. And it was even a red eye flight! If you have swollen feet (or think you might get swollen feet as your pregnancy progresses) buy shoes a half size larger or in wide to prepare. If your feet get too warm in enclosed shoes, you can always take off your shoes for a few minutes to air your sock covered feet out.
Add cute, comfy sneakers or running shoes to your pregnancy travel shopping list. You will not regret it.
2. Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing while flying.
This kind of goes for flying any time, but for the girl (me) who used to always fly in a cute dress or nice dark wash jeans, it was something I needed to relearn. When you’re pregnant, your body is going through some crazy changes and sitting in an airplane for hours gets uncomfortable fast. Many pants can cut in around your waist or hips as they expand, causing shirts start to ride up and bunch, and bras start to dig in as your bust grows.
While maternity jeans are definitely more comfortable than regular jeans (hello over the belly comfort glory!), maternity leggings are even better because they stretch all over and you can sit how ever you need to without anything cutting in anywhere. Add a loose tunic-length top and a big comfy sweater and a scarf and you’re ready for anything that airplane air-conditioning can send your way. I like to always have a zip or button up sweater because they are so versatile and can be unbuttoned with sleeves pushed up, or partially buttoned, or fully zipped depending on how my temperature fluctuates while on the plane or in the airport. I also always bring a scarf with me, even to warm climates, because it is a super versatile piece. Cold? Wear your scarf as a scarf or use it as a blanket. Need a pillow? Use your scarf. Need a cushion for a sore bum? Use your scarf. Need to block out the light of your seat mate’s reading lamp? Use your scarf.
Add comfortable, stretchy clothes that you can layer to your pregnancy travel shopping list.
3. Bring a water bottle and drink lots of water when flying while pregnant.
Again, this is good advice for anyone who is flying. But it’s even more important for pregnant folks. Flying is dehydrating. All that dry air circulating dries you out. It’s fairly commonly known that as humans, we should aim to drink about eight glasses of water per day. When pregnant, that suggestion goes up to 10 glasses of water per day. Water is important for keeping you hydrated and getting important stuff to your growing baby. When flying, regular folk should drink at least eight ounces of water for every hour of flying. But, if you’re pregnant, you should probably drink even more. And yes, that means you’ll likely be heading to the bathroom a lot. But that’s my next point.
Add a fun reusable water bottle to your pregnancy travel shopping list.
4. Get up from your seat regularly when flying while pregnant.
If you drink as much water as you probably should, you’re gonna need to go to the lavatory a lot. And that’s okay! On our six hour flight home from Maui, I was twenty weeks pregnant and got up to go to the bathroom every hour, on the hour. Even if I didn’t feel like I had to go badly, I got up anyway and walked down the aisle. I bounced on my feet, stretched my legs and my back, did some neck and shoulder rolls. That short walk down the aisle of the plane and standing for a few minutes while you wait for your turn in that tiny little bathroom, is so good for loosening up those already strained muscles. And, if you’re like me and can’t sleep on a plane, it makes time pass a little faster by giving you something else to do.
Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to get up and stand or walk at regular intervals while flying pregnant.
5. Select an aisle seat when flying while pregnant.
I know. This is a hard one to give in to. I’ve always been a window seat kind of gal. I love looking out the window of the airplane at the landscape and the clouds. I love the view on take off and landing. But when I’m pregnant, being in the window seat makes it so much more difficult to move. With a sore body and a growing baby bump, a squished bladder and less balance, it’s really annoying to have to constantly ask the people in your row to get up and move for you to pass by. Getting the aisle seat means you can adjust position, get up to go to the bathroom or even just stand for a minute, without bothering anyone. This is especially important for nighttime flights when other passengers are likely to be sleeping.
Choose an aisle seat when pregnant so you can easily get up when you need to.
All these tips are good to follow for anyone flying – but I’ve found they make an even bigger difference when I’m pregnant, even early in the first trimester. Wear comfortable and supportive footwear, wear comfortable clothes that allow you to move easily and layer or delayer as needed, drink lots of water, get up regularly to stand, stretch and walk, sit in an aisle seat so you can easily get up whenever you want to. All of these things will help you be more comfortable and less sore when flying, especially when you’re pregnant.