Being pregnant can be both magical and trying at the same time. Traveling, particularly by plane, can prove difficult if you are not prepared. Many pregnant women wonder about the best way in which to travel by plane. Here are some hints and tips that I found useful in traveling by plane while pregnant.

Timing of your trip is perhaps the most important piece of traveling by plane while pregnant, and quite possibly the piece that most people have the least control over. The second trimester is preferable to the first and third. In the first trimester, morning sickness can be aggravated by any sort of motion, and the take off and landing of the plane, as well as any turbulence, can prove disastrous on an already tumultuous stomach. The third trimester sees an insurgence in trips to the bathroom, which is a hassle on a plane. Therefore, the second trimester poses the fewest traveling problems if you’re flying on a plane while pregnant. It is very important to note here that many airlines will not permit you to fly late in your third trimester (usually after 36 weeks, but check with the individual airline to be sure).

Before you leave for your plane trip, make sure that you have made as much of the trip as painless as possible ahead of time. Planning ahead is a very good idea if you’re going to be traveling by plane while pregnant. Think of everything you may want and, especially if you are pregnant enough to impede movement to some degree, think of ways to make things that you will need easily accessible. Reaching above your head to pull down a carry-on might prove quite difficult while pregnant, and you cannot always depend upon the kindness of strangers. Therefore, things that you might need (snacks, water, pillow for your lower back, blanket, mini fan, etc.) should go in a purse or a smaller carry on for under the seat.

Packing itself will necessitate some thinking ahead, as well. While pregnant, you may desire some different sorts of items than you would if you were traveling by plane without being pregnant. For instance, if you are prone to hot flashes, a mini fan can make you more comfortable. If you get cold easily, bring a small blanket. Most airlines no longer carry small personal pillows or only have them in very limited quantity. Therefore, to make things more comfortable for yourself, bring along a small back roll or a small pillow of your own from home to rest behind your lower back. Even in the beginning of a pregnancy, lower back pain as a result of extended sitting can arise. Snacks are mentioned more thoroughly later in this article and are both a good idea.

Picking your seat is also quite important, though a matter of some personal preference. Some women who are traveling by plane while pregnant may choose to sit up front, where they can get off easily and quickly. Others may wish to sit towards the rear of the plane for airlines that load from rear to front so that they can settle their belongings and assure that all of their carry on luggage will fit on the plane without worry that it will have to be stowed. Near bathrooms is another matter of personal preference. The best advice that I can offer is that, based on my experience, and aisle seat makes the best choice.

When you have arrived at the airport, there are quite a few more security measures that have come up in recent years. Make sure you know ahead of time what items you can and cannot bring to avoid anything being thrown away or having to undergo more intensive security measures. If you are quite pregnant, it is a good idea to take your shoes off earlier in a place with chairs rather than trying to figure out a way to take them off while standing, then having to lean down to retrieve them. Security guards may or may not be sympathetic, but none will be able to help you very much with this process. The more organized your packing job, the less likely that you will be targeted for an intensive check. Be aware of limits to liquids allowed on carry on, and, when in doubt, check the airline website for more details or call. For checked bags, many airlines now impose a fee. Make sure you know the details of this ahead of time and you will find that your trip goes much smoother. Curb site bag check may have seemed superfluous to you before you were pregnant, but might be a good way to cut some unnecessary expenditure of energy out and make things easier on yourself.

It is very difficult to find affordable flights straight to a destination, so many of us will experience some degree of lay over between flights. If this is the case for you while you are traveling while pregnant, make sure that there is plenty of time between your flights to get from one gate to the other. Many airlines post maps online, or you can call and check to see how far apart the gates are. It’s a good general rule of thumb, if you can’t ascertain the distance, to assume that they are as far apart as possible, because this seems to be the case more often than not! Remember that you will not be able to move as quickly, even if a large stomach does not hinder you just yet (bathroom stops are inevitable). Additionally, remember that some flights may be delayed.

Staying hydrated is extremely important at any point in your pregnancy. While flying, your body loses some water. As you now have an extra person who consumes quite a bit of fluid from you, you’ll need to make extra sure that you drink a lot of water. If water makes you nauseous, as it does for some pregnant women, ginger ale or a clear soda is a good back up, as is juice, if you can stomach it. Drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages can dehydrate you a bit and, while better than not drinking at all, it won’t pack the same punch as another choice if you’re flying while pregnant.

Keeping your caloric intake up is equally important. While pregnant, you’ve likely learned from your doctor that you should keep snacks on hand to keep your blood sugar levels up. Since food is less readily available on planes today than it was 10 years ago, taking some snacks would be a good idea for those traveling by plane while pregnant.

Traveling by plane while pregnant can be a bit of an overwhelming undertaking, but careful planning and forethought can turn it into an exciting endeavor.