Like many other mamas to be, I took a babymoon with my husband at the end of my second trimester of pregnancy, with the vacation stretching into my third trimester.
It was the most appropriate time - I had renewed interest in food again after a terrible bout of morning (correction: all day) sickness in the first five months and my bump wasn't too huge to compromise my walking pace. The only damper was that backaches were starting and I experienced shooting ligament pains every now and then with the rapidly stretching uterus.
From Seattle, we flew to South Korea and had a five-day layover before heading home to Singapore. We took a 3-week break in Singapore before flying back to Seattle.
These 3 trips totalled a flight time of 38 hours (= 1.5 day of just being in the air!) and distance travelled of 25,800 kilometers.
We were flying Economy Class on 3 fully booked flights. The husband had wanted to upgrade us, but I felt the money could be better spent on baby!
These were what I prepared for my long-haul flights to be safe, comfortable and enjoyable:
Letter from my obstetrician confirming I was fit for travel
I was flying internationally on Delta and Korean Air and both airlines did not restrict air travel before 36 weeks of pregnancy. Technically, I didn't have to produce any medical clearance form with my pregnancy details.
But I wanted to err on the safe side of caution (in the very rare event that airline or custom officials were to ask) so I asked my doctor for a simple note that stated estimated due date (EDD) and confirmed my pregnancy to be stable and healthy without complications.
Verdict: True enough, I wasn't asked to present any medical letter but having it in my bag gave me peace of mind.
Medical-grade thigh-length compression stockings
Long-haul flights of four hours or more can increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), when a blood clot forms in the leg or pelvis, and being pregnant increases this risk even more. Wearing of compression stockings could help prevent DVT so I got a pair from Amazon.
There were 3 lengths to choose from. I decided on thigh-length based on elimination. Knee length compression stockings could potentially dig into the back of my knees and cause discomfort while full-length compression stockings meant I had to take them on and off whenever I answered nature's call. Thigh-length was the perfect length!
I also chose medical-grade compression stockings instead of ordinary ones to provide better support.
Verdict: I loved the compression stockings! After 19 hours of flight, there wasn't a pressure buildup in my thighs and calves!
It is a fact that pregnant women have a lower immune system. I didn't want to pick up germs with the recirculated cabin air, especially on a crowded plane where so many passengers are held in a confined space for long hours.
Verdict: It turns out there were people sneezing and coughing in the rows behind me. With my face mask on, I was doing my best to protect myself from infection risk.
Maternity support belt
Long hours of sitting upright with just a small and flat airline-provided flight pillow propped behind my back really doesn't cut it. My back ached from having to stay in the position for an extended time period.
Wearing a maternity support belt throughout the flights provided much welcome relief from backaches and round ligament pains. It especially helped when I was trying to maneuver in and out of my seat to visit the restroom.
Verdict: Effective in back alignment!
Snacks for the road
At this advanced stage of my pregnancy, I was feeling hunger pangs at random times of the day. On a long-haul flight, there was a blur in day and night so my tummy seemed to act up all the time.
During the lights-off timings when the airline crew wasn't walking the aisles (and I didn't want to buzz them), I tucked into my private stash of cheese bites, crackers and nuts purchased from the airport stores.
Ask for a pat-down instead of going through airport scanners
While airport scanners are thought to be safe for pregnant women, I was still concerned about radiation exposure so I opted out of all screening technology (like the full-body scanner) and requested pat-downs. The airport security agents didn't question or make things difficult. They simply asked me to stand aside while they got a female agent to pat me down.
I hope these tips are useful when you're planning and travelling on long haul flights during your pregnancy! Have a wonderful babymoon before you pop!
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Hi! I am Yunnie. I am the newly minted mama to a little baby girl and a mum friend to everyone on this special (and many times scary) journey of motherhood. Also a graduated bride with a penchant for weddings.