I flew from Fresno, California to Boston, Massachusetts. Since Fresno is a tiny airport I had a transfer in Phoenix, Arizona. My first flight was just over one hour, the second just over five (the way back was significantly longer since it was going against the jet stream) and I left at like 9:30 am (local time) and arrived at about 8 pm (local time). Apart from some severe turbulence towards the end of my second flight the whole experience was pretty uneventful.
First of all, when you're booking your flights sit in an aisle seat. As much as it sucks to be hit with the beverage cart every time they pass, let's face it, we pregnant ladies pee a lot, and sitting in the aisle makes it considerably more comfortable to get up and go to the restroom. You should also get up regularly to stretch your legs to prevent getting blood clots, which is another reason to sit in the aisle.
If you have to change planes make sure you leave enough time between them. Normally I have no problem sprinting from one end of an airport to the other carry-on luggage in tow, but at 23 weeks pregnant I'm not quite as quick as I'm used to. And my back hurts enough just walking, never mind running with the added weight of luggage.
And don't forget to talk to your doctor/midwife. My midwife didn't bring up wearing compression stockings or anything, but that may have been related to how far along I am and the fact that I actually haven't swollen up at all (my rings have actually gotten loose on me since getting pregnant), but your doctor may feel differently.
These next two are just good to do in general before flying, but to me were especially important since I'm carrying precious cargo, lol.
The few days before you fly, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Airplanes are dry and disease ridden places. Making sure that you're properly hydrated before flying will make the experience more pleasant. And, if you are properly hydrated you won't feel the need to drink as much while in the air thus minimizing trips to the gross-o airplane bathrooms.
For me, this last one was a huge one. You see, when I was in middle school I flew down to Florida with an ear infection. Then got water in my ear while visiting. When I flew home, my ears started bleeding and I have been fighting ear issues ever since. Since that experience, I've had a strict regiment of borderline over-dosing on decongestant allergy meds for the week leading up to my flight as well as using Affrin nasal spray for at least three days leading up to the flight. Making sure that I don't have anything blocking my sinuses while I fly has minimized the discomfort and lasting negative effects that I've always associated with extreme pressure changes.
Well, I couldn't do that this time. I don't want to take any medications during my pregnancy, even if they are considered "safe" for pregnant women. I don't think there's anything wrong with women who do choose to take medication while pregnant, it just isn't something I want to do. So how did I prepare my sinus cavities for the flight? Sinus irrigation. Yup, I neti-ed it up...
Day of flight/while flying
Dress in layers. Seriously, my temperature changes are worse than my mood swings, lol! And you really never know if it'll be blazing hot or freezing cold on a plane. Also, I don't like to use the little air vent to cool you off since in my mind its just spraying you with germs (seriously though - the air on planes is disgusting), and would much prefer to sit there in a tank top. It also doesn't hurt to dress in form fitting clothes (but still comfortable) to show off your bump. Let's face it, people in general are much nicer to pregnant ladies than they are anyone else!
Don't forget to bring snacks. Beyond the fact that its really rare for an airline to actually give you any food on a flight, if you're anything like me you can go from fine to starving in three seconds flat. And no one likes a starving pregnant lady!
Once you get to security, ask questions about the scanners they're using. At the Fresno airport, they use scanners that actually use sound waves; there is no radiation emitted from them. In Boston, however, they use a different type of scanner that does expose you to small amounts of radiation. Is it harmful to your baby? The authorities say it isn't. But radiation is something that builds up in your system over time, and you'll be exposed to some of it during your flight no matter what you do. So I'm, personally, not comfortable exposing my little Sea Monkey to any more radiation than necessary, and when going through security in Boston I asked for a pat down rather than a scan. They had no problem with it!
Once you get through security, go buy the biggest water you can get your hands on. You really don't know how long it'll take for the "beverage services" to start while you're in the air, plus you don't want to be harassing the flight attendants the entire flight. Having a huge jug of water at your disposal is a must.
And I might seem kinda paranoid, but I promise I'm not germaphobic. Airplanes and airports are just disgusting. Period. Wash your hands every chance you get. There are just so many people bringing diseases from all around the world. Not to mention the fact that the air while in flight is just recycled over and over again, meaning you're just getting washed over again and again by germs. It's disgusting.
Finally, once you get to your final destination (wash your hands again, hahaha) enjoy yourself! These past few days I've been a little sore which I'm attributing to being crammed in a small seat for so long so I've made it a point to stretch as much as possible, but apart from that I feel fine!
If you have any advice to add, be sure to leave a comment, and hopefully this long ass post can help someone else prep for a flight during their pregnancy!
Until next time...