If you’re flying long-haul – and especially if you’re having a layover – make sure you consider what facilities will be at the airport, says new mum Ellie Browning. Ellie flew from London to Sydney with a toddler while she was four months pregnant.
“I did a lot of research before booking and in the end we chose to fly with Singapore Airlines so we could go via Changi airport. “The bathrooms are so practical for parents and lounge areas have big comfy chairs – it’s like being in your own lounge at home – plus there are plenty of quiet corners and a garden area to rest in.”
Airlines offer pregnant women and passengers traveling with children priority boarding.
Jill Peters flew to Dubai when she was pregnant with her first child.
“Boarding first was great because I had lots of time to get on to the plane and organise my bags,” she says. “I also used this time to speak with the flight attendants and take advantage of the support they were offering.”
However the idea of priority boarding is mixed for mums traveling with kids. “We flew twice while I was pregnant – once to Dubai and once to Bangkok,” says Andrea Simmons, who lives in London. “Both times I had my daughter with me. She was 18 months old the first time and 21 months old the second time.
“We used priority boarding the first time but never again! By the time all the other passengers were seated, she was a bag of beans, fidgeting and wanting to move around. It was very stressful trying to keep her seated while not getting other passengers offside before we’d even taken off.
“For the Bangkok flight we waited much later to board. We had less time waiting to takeoff and I found it less stressful. But this may not work for everyone – it’s really important to find a system that works for you.”
Extra Space, Extra Comfort
Bianca Steffens, a mum of two from Germany, flew on an A380 when she was pregnant with her son. Her daughter was three at the time.
“I'm not an expert on planes, but I do recall the Emirates plane we flew on was a) very big and b) very quiet,” she says.“ There was a LOT of storage space, and the seats were really comfortable. We were lucky because had a whole row to ourselves – the fours seats across the middle – and we were able to sleep most of the flight.“
I was impressed because the Emirates staff took a photo of my daughter and they gave it to us at the end of the flight as a souvenir. I found these kinds of inflight services for kids a real bonus and it made flying while I was pregnant a lot easier.”
Pippa Lallani, flew to New Zealand from London while she was five months pregnant. She also had an 18-month-old toddler. “We took four planes – two each way – and the A380 was by far the most comfortable,” she says.
“We were placed in the economy seats on the upper deck, so not only was the service really quick in terms of getting meals, but there were never queues for the toilet, either.
“I found the cabin really spacious, which was a relief as I was worried about not being about to move around. “The in-flight entertainment was modern and easy to use, which was great for my daughter. She was able to watch cartoons when I needed a rest. The plane was also extremely quiet, making it easy to get to sleep.”
Top Tips for Pregnant Mums
What you need to know
- Check your airline’s rules ahead if you plan on flying while pregnant* (see information below). There may be a cutoff for flying late in a pregnancy. Some airlines may require a letter from your doctor, especially if flying after 28 weeks.
- For peace of mind it can be helpful to have a check up with your doctor before you fly to make sure you’re in good health.
- You may be able to order special meals to help make eating easier. This is especially helpful if you’re experiencing a lot of morning sickness. Also drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
- Take advantage of the extra space in the A380 cabin to walk around from time to time to help your circulation.
- Reserving a seat on the aisle can make it easier to get in and out of your row.
- Experiment with your seatbelt to find the most comfortable position – for example, you may find it more comfortable below the abdomen and quite low on your pelvis.
- Check that your insurance policy covers you just in case you need medical assistance during your time away.
What to wear
- Dress for comfort. Choose loose clothing and layers. If you’re also travelling with a small child, pack a spare set of clothes. (We have more tips here for travelling with small kids).
- Wearing compression stockings can help your circulation.
What to pack
- Take your own snacks on long flights. When you’re pregnant, you can get hungry at strange hours – with a few snacks in your bag you can nibble away regardless of the hour. And, of course, you can guarantee you’ll have snacks to meet your cravings!
- Taking your own snacks also means that it won’t matter so much if you sleep through a meal time.
- There’s nothing worse when you have ‘pregnancy fatigue’ than finally falling to sleep only to have to be woken for a meal.
- Organize your bags so anything you need often (e.g. snacks, baby wipes, books, medication, etc.) are in a bag tucked under your seat rather than in the overhead locker.
Tips for traveling with kids when you’re pregnant
- Sleep when your child sleeps – even if you’re at a really good point in a movie! Press pause and get some rest while they’re resting
- If you can afford it, consider paying for a seat for your child even if they are under 2. Having a 23-month-old on your lap during a long flight when you’re tired or feeling sick is not fun.
- Don’t let your toddler take too many small toys with lots of pieces. These are easy to lose and scrambling around looking for toys under seats when you’re pregnant can be exhausting.
- Make friends with the flight attendants and your neighbours. You'll probably need to go to the toilet a lot if you’re on a long-haul flight while pregnant. It can be hard not knowing what to do with your child while you use the bathroom. If you feel comfortable with your neighbors, it's nice to know you can leave your child in their care for a few minutes while you get up and stretch your legs or use the bathrooms.
Make good use of these tips to keep exploring the world and enjoying the company of your friends and family during your pregnancy. You’ll be ready for anything that comes your way!
* Airline information on flying while pregnant: