I was 29 weeks pregnant when I flew from India to the U.K., bump and I travelled with my mum a couple of days after my Dohale Jeevan. I was emotionally exhausted after saying goodbye to my husband and desperate just to get on the plane. I hate saying goodbye but I knew once I was in the air, I would be able to start feeling excited about seeing everyone in England. In the end, I was lucky to get on the plane at all!
Contact your Airline regarding their Policies on Pregnancy
Different airlines may have slightly different rules regarding pregnancy, so make sure you won’t be ‘too pregnant’ to fly. If you have had a healthy pregnancy and only carrying one baby, most airlines will let you fly until you’re 36 weeks. When you book your ticket, your travel agent won’t ask if you are pregnant but if you are showing, be prepared to be asked how far along you are when you try to check in.
This happened to me.
We were queuing at the check in counter in Nagpur airport. Sweating slightly and looking extremely nervous, a young man asked me whether I was pregnant. I could sense his relief when I confirmed that I was pregnant (could have been embarrassing) and he asked to see a doctor’s note.
Get a *Valid* Doctor’s Note
The airline is most concerned with the risk of premature labour. Generally, you will need a doctor’s note to fly from 28 weeks onwards. Airlines do have the right to deny you from the aircraft and I thought I was completely prepared for this. My obstetrician had written a note for me the previous week, saying I was good to fly and I had seen her again on the day of my flight; just to double check everything was well.
Unfortunately, it turns out that these notes have a short shelf life. Even though I had seen my doctor less six hours previous, the note was dated a week ago. Thirty tense minutes of phone calls between the young man and some airline authority followed. At one point I thought they were not going to let me fly, but luckily… they did.
So, learn from my mistake. Get a doctor’s within a couple of days, or the day of travel.
Try to Fly during your Second Trimester
You have so much more energy during your second trimester, compared to your first and third. I was quite uncomfortable during my first flight (between Nagpur and Qatar). Luckily I had an aisle seat (yes, try and get an aisle seat) so I could stretch out my legs a little.
On the second leg of our journey (Qatar to London), the plane was bigger and the seats were much more comfortable. I was stopped again when I tried to get on the plane, more phone calls made with concerned expressions. Luckily I was allowed on the plane and not stranded in the Middle East, but I sense only just!
Avoid spicy and oily food before and during your flight
This was great advice I received from my obstetrician. Avoid any food that might give you stomach cramps which could be confused with preterm labour, sending everyone on the plane into a panic. Now that I have actually experienced real bone shattering contractions, I can safely say, no amount of oil or spice could imitate that! As a first time mum though, any cramps above the clouds would have been scary!
Keep active and hydrated during the flight
During pregnancy, you have a greater risk of becoming constipated and compacted due to the hormones, iron supplements and greater pressure in your belly. Yes, I did the leg stretches and wore flight socks (US, UK, India) to help prevent blood clots… but I didn’t consider my bowels. I’m not going to write too much about my experience with this, but trust me. If you are flying while pregnant, keep hydrated and active during the flight!