Flying can be stressful at the best of times, but we’ve rounded up these top tips to ensure that you have a smooth, comfortable flight, mama!
Living and working in a place like Singapore, it’s hard to get almost anywhere without hopping on a plane. I found myself traveling frequently for work during my third trimester of pregnancy, and although I don’t think I ever cut it so close as to risk giving birth in mid-air (though free flights for life would be pretty sweet), I did learn a lot about pregnancy flying rules in the third trimester (rule #1: every airline has a different cut-off!), along with how to make flying as comfortable as possible.
First and foremost, once you get to about 24 weeks, it’s advisable to get a doctor’s letter certifying your due date and that you are fit to fly. Most airlines don’t require anything until 28 weeks, but every woman shows differently, and some women are questioned for proof upon check-in. Here’s a quick rundown of the rules for various Singapore-based carriers:
No certification required prior to 28 weeks, but a doctor’s letter is required between 29-36 weeks for uncomplicated single pregnancies, and the letter should be dated within 10 days of your first flight. Mamas with uncomplicated multiple pregnancies are restricted from flying after 32 weeks, while single pregnancy mamas can fly up to 36 weeks.
Anytime up to 27 weeks, a pregnant passenger must sign a limited liability statement at check-in absolving the airline of any liabilities. Between 28 and 34 weeks, a doctor’s medical certificate dated within 30 days of departure is required along with the liability release form. Mamas cannot travel after 35 weeks.
A doctor’s letter is required from 28 weeks onward, dated within 10 days of departure, stating the estimated date of delivery, if it’s a single or multiple pregnancy, and whether there are any complications. On flights under 4 hours, single pregnancy mamas are permitted to fly up to 40 weeks (it’s restricted to 36 weeks for longer flights). Multiple pregnancy mamas can fly on flights under 4 hours through 36 weeks, and on longer flights until 32 weeks. Looking for some extra space? Bear in mind that mamas 28 weeks pregnant and beyond cannot sit in the exit row.
Whatever airline you’re traveling on, mama, be sure to check their pregnancy policy ahead of time. For instance, I flew on Virgin Atlantic at 31 weeks and was required to email them a scan of my doctor’s letter ahead of my flight. As a tradeoff, the flight attendants were expecting me and had extra pillows and bottles of water waiting for me in my seat when I boarded.
Staying comfortable during the flight:
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway), if you can get yourself a business class seat, do it! There’s no better time to cash in those miles if you have them, mama, because your back and legs will never be achier. Every extra inch of space to recline and stretch out is soooo worth it. True story: my friend’s husband used miles to upgrade her to a Singapore Airlines Suite on a flight from the U.S. while he flew in Economy – if that’s not husband of the year material, I don’t know what is!
Premium Economy is another good option, and depending on the airline may cost just a couple hundred dollars more than coach – again, best money you’ll ever spend.
No matter what class you fly, try to get an aisle seat because chances are you’ll be peeing a lot. It’s also good to get up and stretch your legs frequently, and lots of mamas recommend wearing tights or compression socks to help avoid deep vein thrombosis.
As soon as you get on the plane, make sure to request extra pillows (I needed at least two extras to make my back comfortable), and depending on your carrier make sure to bring along plenty of water. Consider bringing along some healthy snacks too because airplane food is always a gamble!
Finally, don’t forget to talk to your baby and massage your bump, as both are great means of bonding – plus it’s actually kind of exciting to tell your baby that you’re on an airplane taking a trip together! I also brought along an extra pair of earphones to play music for my bump – I figured it would be more pleasant than the noisy whirr of the engine!
Travel can be stressful at the best of times, but hopefully with these tips you’ll be able to have a smooth, comfortable flight, mama (comfortable anyway, we can’t make any guarantees about the bumps!).