The coronavirus has truly turned our lives and realities upside down in so many ways. Our sense of safety was especially impacted, and, for a long time, it was unsafe to do activities you took for granted like eating at restaurants, going to the movies, and taking trips. As the vaccine continues to help introduce a sense of normalcy back to our cities, many are taking long-postponed trips to enjoy much-needed vacations. If you’re pregnant and still worried about flying and the potential health risks it poses, you’re not alone and your concerns are valid!
While most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes, there’s still a risk of contracting COVID-19 on a flight. The following are some critical safety tips to apply to help keep you and your growing baby safe while flying!
1. Visit your doctor before your flight
As with all big events you want to participate in while pregnant, be sure to consult your doctor beforehand. If you’re having a healthy pregnancy, plane travel should be safe with the right precautions. Once you’ve visited your doctor and discussed travel details, you’ll know whether you’re cleared for flying. If you are, your doctor will give you some additional information on how you can stay safe and healthy before and during your flight. While at your doctor’s office, be sure to ask about some common concerns for pregnant women while flying, remedies for nausea, gas, and diarrhea, decompression stockings, the flu vaccine, and recommended medical professionals or facilities at your destination.
Also, if you are in between COVID-19 vaccines or have your first dose scheduled, be sure to tell your doctor. Coronavirus vaccines may have side effects that could make flying more dangerous for a pregnant woman, so consider postponing your trip if your flight is close in time to a vaccine dose.
2. Choose a window seat if possible
It’s more convenient to sit in an aisle seat while flying since it allows you better bathroom access, but the aisle is also where foot traffic is expected. To help lower your risk of coming into contact with someone who’s sick, pick a window seat if possible. This will put more distance between you and the other passengers walking through the aisle for the bathroom. You’re likely to need to use the bathroom a lot since you’re pregnant, so try to urinate before you board the plane if possible and be cautious when using the bathroom on the plane.
3. Don’t ignore hygiene and safety best practices
Even though the vaccine is becoming more widely available, it doesn’t completely prevent us from contracting the coronavirus. That means you still have to be on alert when flying, even if you’re fully vaccinated. Contracting the virus may put you at risk for hospitalization since pregnancy tends to lower women’s immune system function, putting them at a higher risk of developing complications from viral respiratory infections like COVID-19.
So be sure to follow the same precautions as others to avoid infection. Before, during, and after your flight:
* Wear a mask at all times before, during, and after your flight
* Stand at least 6 feet from other people as much as possible
* Wash your hands with soap and warm water regularly
* Use hand sanitizer
* Don’t touch your face with unwashed hands
* Use disposable gloves when touching the bins at airport security and other high touch surfaces, such as door handles, railing, and buttons
* Avoid contact with sick people or those who have traveled to high-risk areas
* Wipe down surfaces during your trip, such as your plane seat armrest
4. Prepare for pregnancy-related inconveniences
It’s important to prepare for small issues to arise in order to avoid being limited to unsafe options while on a flight. For instance, if you’ve consistently had morning sickness throughout your pregnancy, prepare for a potentially nauseating flight.
Be sure to pack disposable bags and whatever remedies have worked to curb your nausea like medicines, special morning sickness lollipops, ginger candies, or saltine crackers. It’s not just air turbulence that can toss your stomach, but think about the smells that trigger nausea like coffee or eggs—you can’t avoid those aromas if they occur on the plane. Ask your doctor how else you can prepare for any in-flight sickness.
You don’t want to get stuck behind a line for the bathroom in close-quarters with other people or have to ask strangers on your flight for nausea-relief help. Plan to have as little contact with others on your flight as possible and that means planning for the “what-ifs!”
5. Get tested, get tested, get tested
Before your flight, when you get to your destination, and before you leave for home, get a PCR coronavirus test. This test uses a nasal swab or throat swab to test bodily fluids for genetic material that only comes from COVID-19.
Since you’re pregnant and traveling, you’re away from your trusted medical care facilities and perhaps your family and friends. That means if you get sick, you’re all the more vulnerable physically and emotionally. To avoid additional stress during your trip and to keep an eye on your health, get tested regularly and monitor your health daily.
If you get a negative COVID-19 test and still feel ill, call your doctor for advice on your best next steps for staying healthy while traveling.
We hope you’re going on a fun trip to celebrate your new baby and rest up before he/she arrives! As with all things in a pandemic/post-pandemic world, be as safe as you can. As inconvenient as it can be to plan safety precautions and doctor’s visits into your trip experience, it’ll pay off in the end with peace of mind in knowing you’re helping keep yourself and the people around you healthy.