It’s 4:06 AM Manila time and I’m wide awake, obviously the jet lag has taken full effect and there’s no escaping it. I just spent a total of 28 hours traveling from NYC to Manila–this is adding up all the hours we’ve been in transit from the cab ride to JFK, the wait at the airport, the 16 hour flight to Taipei, the 4 hour layover, the 2 hour flight to Manila, and finally the 45 minute drive to our condo. 28 hours is a LONG time. It’s practically more than a day! And the fatigue can get to any one but even more so to a 7 month pregnant mom-to-be. I know, what was I thinking?!? Hahaha! The trip was tiring, YES, but surprisingly I faired much better than I expected. Our baby was super cooperative and didn’t give me any trouble, thanks buddy.
I thought I’d share some tips that have worked for me personally. Again as a disclaimer: I am also just a newbie in this mommy business and in no way an expert on pregnancy, so please don’t consider these nuggets of advice as GOLD. They may apply to you, they may not—it’s all good in the hood! 🙂
1. Get your doctor’s clearance and make sure you have all your documents, medicines, vitamins, etc in order.
Each pregnancy is different and each case is unique so don’t allow yourself to just make general assumptions. You can get all the self-help tips from the internet or casual advice from friends and they’ll be applicable to some extent, but nothing beats seeking PROFESSIONAL and MEDICAL advice from your OB GYNE. You have to make an effort to be properly informed about YOUR pregnancy journey by listening to your doctor. I always make sure I go through all the necessary tests and check-ups prior to my trips. If there’s even the slightest hesitation from your doctor, then cancel the trip! Or if you yourself don’t feel completely up for it, then just ditch your plans and stay home. It’s not worth risking, your health and your baby’s well-being should always be top priority.
If you are in good form and lucky enough to get a go-signal from your doctor, then make sure you ask all the questions that need to be asked beforehand. My doctor gave me prescriptions not only for my vitamins but also just in case of UTI, fever, or any other ailments during the trip. I packed all the medicines in my bag just to make sure I had an ample supply. It’s also best to bring your latest medical records just so you’ll have something to show the medical practitioners in the country you’re visiting in case you do encounter some problems.
2. Invest in carry on luggage with wheels.
Carrying/lifting heavy bags is a BIG NO-NO for pregnant women. The Baby Center explains it well: “When you’re pregnant, your ligaments loosen and your joints become less stable, so it’s easier to injure yourself. As your belly grows, your center of gravity shifts forward too. This puts more pressure on your lower back and makes it more vulnerable to strain – especially when you’re lifting something heavy. The shift in your center of gravity can put you off balance, making falls more likely. A serious fall is not only dangerous for you, but it could be risky for the baby, possibly leading to preterm labor or premature separation of the placenta.”
So forget the big tote and duffel bags, make sure you have wheels on whatever you’ll be lugging around. I am very happy with my Delsey carry on because they roll along with me with ease. I’m able to still pack everything I need without having to worry about the strain it would cause to my back or belly. Make sure you ask someone to assist you in placing it on the overhead compartment of the plane and also to lift it during security checks—don’t even attempt to do it all on your own. Ask for help from your traveling companion or even from the airplane staff. I usually have one handbag (with my passport, tickets, wallet, cellphone) and one carry-on with wheels (with my travel sized toiletries, laptop, camera, 2 sets of extra clothes in case my luggage gets lost, snacks). Keep your handbag light and put more items on the carry on with wheels.
3. Buy a decent sized pillow.
Okay, so bringing your own pillow on the plane might not be the most space saving idea. I know, I know. But when you have a big belly and ailing back to worry about, a proper sized pillow will be your best friend. I got a kiddie sized pillow at around 200 bucks that perfectly into my carry on maleta. It basically occupied half of my small luggage but it was worth it! I was able to position it against my back and it definitely helped alleviate the discomfort of sitting and waiting for hours. Make sure you wash the pillow after your trip, just imagine all the germs in the plane, yowza!!!
4. Wear breathable, stretchy clothes.
I always opt for leggings or harem pants for long haul flights (even pre-pregnancy). I do away with jeans or pants that are too tight and that have with zippers and buttons. Zippers and buttons not only make peeing a chore (extra effort!), it also presses against your skin and makes it much more uncomfortable when you’re trying to stretch and find a perfect sitting-sleeping position. I highly recommend the maternity leggings of www.elin.ph, they felt like pajamas but still looked so fashionable. If you pair them with their breathable tops, you have a match made in airplane heaven! Same with the pants, I suggest opting for tops without any buttons and with a high neckline and long sleeves. This way you’ll be confident that even if you toss and turn in the plane, nothing will suddenly pop out of nowhere and you can keep things covered throughout the duration of your flight.
5. Drink lots of water. Avoid coffee, tea and sodas.
Even if you’re not thirsty, force yourself to drink water! Just drink, drink, drink UP! Dehydration is your worst enemy, so it’s important to down a lot of H20. Drinking a lot of water will be good for your system but it will also cause you to pee a lot which leads us to tip #6….
6. Get a seat right next to the toilet.
I always make sure I book our seats in advance and I always get a seat by the toilet. I remember flying from Manila to Paris last December and visiting the loo at least 13 times! It was almost embarrassing! Hahaha! But I couldn’t help myself, I just kept going and going! I was just making sure I didn’t hold my pee as this would cause a bad case of UTI which is very common among pregnant women—especially with those who travel a lot. So even if you just feel that a few drops are going to come out, head straight to the bathroom and don’t control it. Let it go! Let it go! Drink lots of water, pee, drink lots of water, pee—repeat 10x. Oh and sit by the aisle so you won’t have to bother the people seated next to you.
7. Pack your own healthy snacks.
I’m a consummate snacker. I always, always pack a generous amount of healthy (and okay, some aren’t super healthy) snacks whenever I travel. And now that I’m pregnant and I have to be more conscious of what I eat, packing my own supply seems like the smart thing to do. Sure there will always be options at the airport, but if you’re stuck with nothing but junk/fast food–then it won’t do your baby any good. You can bring some nuts, dried fruit (with no sugar added), crackers, organic gummy bears, bread, etc. I recall in one flight back in December, I just couldn’t stand the smell of the airplane food. There was something about it that really put me off. So I ended up eating my own snacks instead—which was really a lifesaver! At least the baby and I didn’t starve throughout that long flight.
8. Walk around the plane and do stretching exercises every hour or two.
I was petrified when I woke up to piggy toes on our Taipei-Seattle flight. My feet were completely swollen, I could barely squeeze them back into my shoes so I had to use the airline slippers. (On that note, I suggest using shoes that have a bit of wiggle allowance!). Don’t worry though, swelling is completely normal and at most your toes will feel slightly uncomfortable for a few hours while you’re up in the air. To help get your blood pumping and lessen the swelling/cramps/discomfort—make sure you get up from your seat to walk around the cabin and do some leg stretches.
9. Pack a tube of moisturizer for your belly.
I always have a small bottle of 100% argan oil with me. It works wonders for my face and my body. Every time my skin would get itchy, I would slather a few drops on my belly. If you have a stretch mark cream/oil that works best for you, pack it in a travel friendly tube so you can keep applying throughout the trip. Your skin gets dry and flaky in the plane so best to moisturize as much as you can!
10. Talk to your baby.
How I wish I could sing like a nightingale and offer some sweet melodies to my baby—sigh—but singing is not my strong suit so I guess talking really is my best means of communication. Patrick and I always talk to our baby during a flight. Pat rubs my belly and kisses it too after he talks to him. I’m sure it looks weird but I guess it helps to sort of explain things to the baby and prepare him for the journey ahead. It also calms us down as parents-to-be and it gives us the opportunity to form the habit of dialogue with our little one. We also use the opportunity to lift our worries and doubts to the Lord—and when we do, it immediately puts us at ease. 🙂
So there, that sums up my 10 Airplane Tips for Pregnant Women. Again, these are all just my personal tips which I hope you would find useful for your future trips. Thanks again for dropping by the blog!