There’s plenty of reasons why you might need to fly while pregnant. Maybe you’re setting off on a babymoon before the little one arrives, or you might have decided to travel home to deliver. Whatever the reason, it’s key to embark upon your travels safely and with as minimal stress as possible, so we spoke to flight experts Skyscanner and some of the UAE’s most popular mum bloggers for their top tips on flying with a baby bump.
1. Talk to your doctor
First thing’s first, you should definitely talk to your healthcare professional before deciding to fly while pregnant. Many of them will sign off on your trip provided there aren’t any known pregnancy complications. It’s important to be aware that women that have experienced a premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, or any other health risks are unlikely to get approval from a midwife or obstetrician. Doctors (and some airlines) will also recommend not travelling by air after your 36th week. Finally, make sure you get a copy of your prenatal records to take along for the trip.
2. Airlines have different policies - check with yours!
While a medical professional’s opinion comes first and foremost, airlines also have their own limits on when they’ll allow you to travel if pregnant - and they tend to differ. Here’s some of the major UAE airlines' policies:
- Etihad Airways allows women to travel during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy without a medical certificate.
- On Emirates Airlines travelling after the 36th week is not allowed, unless with special permission from the Medical Department of the airline.
- Air Arabia allows travel until 35 weeks if the expectant woman provides a medical certificate indicating the number of weeks of her pregnancy.
- Flydubai allows normal travel of expectant mothers until the end of 28 weeks. Travelling after 28 weeks is not allowed unless with an official medical report sufficient for Flydubai.
3. Take out travel insurance
Make sure your travel insurance gives you adequate cover. Most insurers will insist that the mum-to-be has at least 8 -10 weeks left before her due date upon return. Others may stipulate that cover only extends up until week 27 or 28 of pregnancy. Contact them to find out their particular conditions and exactly what you could claim for.
4. Try to fly close to home
Your dream holiday might be a far flung exotic destination, but long-haul flights can be very uncomfortable. There are more than enough fantastic domestic destinations to visit on a two- to three-hour flight from the UAE. It lessens the time for discomfort and gets you to the fun of a vacation faster.
5. Walk the cabin
No matter the flight length, it’s good to get up from your seat for a bit as there is an increased risk of getting blood clots during pregnancy. Every half hour during the flight stand up and walk, or flex and extend your legs to prevent swelling of the feet and to improve blood circulation.
6. Wear a pair of compression socks
On that note, ask your midwife for elastic compression socks for your flight. When pregnant, slower circulation increases the chance of blood clots and these will help.
7. Sit comfortably
If you can afford the luxury of flying in business class or premium economy then do it. If not, try to select an extra-legroom seat before your flight. You could even just ask the flight staff if they can make some accommodations for you. If a seat with extra legroom is unavailable, the second best option would be to get an aisle seat near the restroom, that way you’ll have easy access without having to walk in front of people on a regular basis.
8. Drink water – lots of it
It’s important to drink lots of water when pregnant and you’re much more likely to get dehydrated when travelling on planes. Firstly, stay hydrated while waiting to get on the plane, then buy a large bottle of water to take on the flight with you so you’re not at the mercy of the airline's food and beverage service.
9. Avoid lifting bags
When you arrive at the airport, staff and airline personnel are available to assist you at every stage of your journey, so ask for help. Alert your airline if you need assistance with your luggage when boarding or when travelling to your flight.
10. Take extra precautions whilst on holiday
Even once you’ve completed your flight, there are things to consider.
Don’t forget to:
- Keep a hat and high factor sun protection on at all times as your skin is more sensitive to the sun’s rays during pregnancy.
- Steer clear of jet skis, diving or water-based activities.
- Take a copy of your medical notes and insurance policy.
- Make your own list of local doctors, hospitals and your country’s embassy with contact details and directions.
What the mums say
Advice from expat mamas who’ve been there themselves:
"Pack snacks! You don’t know when the food will come out, so keep your blood sugar stable if you’re prone to feeling nauseous. It's also worth telling the cabin crew you’re pregnant (you might get special treatment). Don’t forget your doctor’s note and another for the return journey and avoid flying anywhere remote after the second trimester – making sure there's a nearby clinic with adequate facilities is essential." - Helen Farmer, The Mothership
"Do the in-seat exercises to prevent blood clots and get up and walk every hour or so to keep your blood moving and reduce oedema or swelling. Plus, stick to wearing loose, non-constrictive clothing during the flight." - Amy Vogelaar, Love Parenting UAE
"Stay hydrated- water is the best so make sure you have plenty of it when travelling. Stay away from fizzy drinks! Also, buy an in-flight footrest – using an inflatable or hammock style footrest that you can attach to the seat in front of you will help circulation in the feet." - Andrea Bailey, Beyond a Visit
Skyscanner is a leading global travel search company, providing free search of flights, hotels and car hire around the world. Visit Skyscanner.ae.
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