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How to Safely Fly When Pregnant or With An Infant

Posted on Thu, Mar 15, 2018

Being pregnant (and bringing a life into the world) necessitates a few lifestyle changes — to put it lightly. You’ll be faced with a slew of doctor’s appointments, updated dietary advisements, and unsolicited advice from the qualified and unqualified alike.

However, that doesn’t mean you have to totally put your own life on hold. You’ll still want to visit relatives or keep vacation plans you made before deciding to welcome a new family member. There’s no reason you can’t travel while pregnant or with your newborn. There’s just a few things to keep in mind when making your plans.

When Is It Safe to Fly?

Before planning a trip, it’s important to make sure you can actually fly when you want to. The restrictions are different for everyone and may vary depending on your pregnancy or child, your destination, and the airline you fly with.

Always consult with your doctor before planning any travel while pregnant. This is an especially important step with air travel. With most healthy pregnancies, it’s considered safe to fly through week 36, though some doctors recommend refraining after week 30. If you plan to travel during your ninth month, most airlines will require a note from your doctor that releases you to fly.

New babies are cleared for flight much earlier than you’d expect — without any complications, most babies are fit to fly within two days of being born. That doesn’t mean Mom is ready to tackle the task, though! If you’re facing flying with an infant, know that most airlines don’t allow infants under two weeks old on the flight. You may also need to wait longer to travel internationally with young children depending on the vaccine requirements of your destination.

Planning Your Trip

As if scheduling vacations wasn’t hectic enough, the addition of pregnancy or a new baby can make the whole thing more complicated. You’ll have additional regulations to follow, new items to pack, and extra paperwork to contend with. With a little pre-planning, though, you can make sure you’re prepared for every scenario.

Booking Your Trip

If you have the luxury of planning your travel around your pregnancy, aim for trips during your second trimester. This way, you’re hopefully past most of the nausea of the first trimester, your risk of miscarriage is significantly lower, and you haven’t reached the more uncomfortable phases of the third trimester yet. Travel is still feasible in the first and third trimester; it just stands to be a lot less comfortable.

Infants under two years do not need their own seat; you can carry your child on your lap for the duration of the flight, but know that you’ll likely need to provide a birth certificate to the airline. If you’re flying internationally, all passengers must have a passports, no matter how little the little ones are.

Small details will play a big part in your comfort on travel days, such as booking aisle seats when possible or asking for preboarding. Many airlines will offer perks to pregnant women or families with small children in order to make the flight as smooth as possible for all passengers involved.

Before Leaving

Beyond normal packing, traveling while pregnant or with an infant requires a few extra steps. Before you travel, you should consult with your physician to ensure you’re healthy enough, as well as to take care of any vaccinations or special instructions regarding your destination. For instance, children and pregnant women are more susceptible to waterborne illnesses and may need to take extra precautions.

If you’re traveling while pregnant, ask your doctor to provide you with a full copy of your prenatal chart, as well as any other relevant medical documents. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, you’ll want to ask for a referral to a provider for any interim care or in the case of an emergency. Make sure to pack physical copies of this information in your carry on or personal bag in the event that your electronics aren’t charged or you’re not capable of relaying the information.

If you’re traveling internationally, consider purchasing travel insurance, as standard health insurance may not cover care received in a foreign country. If you’re concerned about experiencing pregnancy complications abroad, make sure you know where the embassy is located to ensure that you have access to emergency medical transport.

Day of Travel

Give yourself plenty of time at the airport. Some doctors advise skipping the body scan when pregnant, which means you’re in for a time-consuming alternative, generally pat down. If you have young children with you, you’ll have to keep track of multiple boarding passes and possibly extra bags.

Make sure to dress comfortably and schedule breaks if applicable. Taking a walk during a layover may be the saving grace for your second flight. Pack water and healthy snacks — staying hydrated and maintaining regular blood sugar will keep stress at bay. For newborns, packing a bottle to feed during ascent or descent can help with ear pain and pressure.

When to Seek Alternative Travel

Unfortunately, not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes, pregnancies aren’t textbook, but you still need to travel for one reason or another. Other times, babies may decided they’re ready to arrive early and put a wrench in your schedule. It’s important to have a contingency plan in place before traveling, and understanding alternative medical transportation can put your mind at ease.

High Risk Pregnancy

If you’re experiencing preeclampsia, anemia, or gestational diabetes with your pregnancy, flying may pose additional risks to your health. Your doctor should always be the final word on whether or not travel is advised, but if you’re concerned about flying commercially, there are other options available. For women who have been relegated to bed rest, require more space, or may be traveling with a newborn soon after delivery, the additional space offered by a commercial stretcher booking offers both space and privacy to make the flight more comfortable.

Emergent Labor

For unexpected labor cases, arranging transport home after an early delivery can be overwhelming. You may be dealing with a language barrier as well as medical bills in a foreign country on top of welcoming the newest member of your family, depending on where you were traveling. If your child won’t be old enough to fly commercially by the time your flight comes around, you’ll need to consider alternative travel plans. Private air transport can mean getting your new family home as soon as possible while trusting that you’ll be taken care of the whole way.

Neonatal Care

Infants that are traveling with a unique medical condition or to receive medical care may be unable to fly commercially. Traditionally, planes are not equipped with the personnel or equipment to cope with a complicated medical emergency. Flight attendants are trained with basic first aid and planes do have some medical supplies on board, but if you’re traveling with a newborn who has a serious medical condition or was born abroad prematurely, it may benefit your child to consider neonatal medical transport.

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