Surviving 30+ Hours of Flying, While 36 Weeks Pregnant, With Three Kids In Tow!

Sounds crazy right?  What kind of pregnant woman would subject herself to 30+ hours of travel while she’s 9-months pregnant?  Throw in the 3 other kids and you might think I need to have my head examined.

Honestly, when people found out that we would be moving to the other side of the world when I was this pregnant, almost everyone thought I was crazy.  Once you realize that my options were 1). travel 9 months pregnant with 3 kids and a husband, or 2). travel with 4 kids (one newborn and a 21 month old) on the same flight by myself; well option 1 starts sounding much more appealing then, eh?

I planned for the worst – to feel sore, uncomfortable and pretty miserable post-flight.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth everything went.
Here are a few things that I learned:

1).  Not all airlines are equally comfortable

In the past, we’ve always just gone for the cheapest option.  We figured that we could survive any discomfort for a few hours, especially if it saved us a few bucks :)  However, this time around, I quickly learned that not all airlines are created equal.  Our first leg of our flight was a 2 hour trip from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles on Delta.  It was your typical domestic flight.  Translation: airflow was poor, seats were small, and leg room was almost non-existent.  I was horribly uncomfortable and the thought of a 16 hour flight in a few hours brought me to tears.

For the remainder of our trip, we flew on Emirates…and I fell in love (with the airline that is).  The seats were roomy, there was ample leg room (and I’m 5’10”), and the plane was not only clean but was pretty state of the art with fantastic in-flight entertainment options at each seat.  Shockingly, even the food was good.  I can truthfully say that I was pretty comfortable during the whole flight!

2).  Catering to kids is a MUST

With more and more families traveling internationally, airlines are picking up on the importance of keeping the kiddos happy.  When we got on-board our Emirates flight, each kid was given a bag of goodies and games, a new stuffed animal, and a new blanket.  My kids were in heaven.  So much for the meticulously packed backpacks full of special snacks and toys – the kids didn’t touch them.  They just wanted to play with their new gifts and watch all of the awesome movies that were available.  Better yet, the kids were always the first ones served their food so their bellies were always nice and full.  While we were thrilled to find this on Emirates, I know that a lot of airlines are now catering to kids.  Make sure to check out their website or call their customer service line to find out what a specific airline offers (these are usually well advertised since they are a huge selling point for families).  Honestly, having my kids so well taken care of on the flight made it so much easier and relaxing for me, which was a must!

3).  Know each airlines rules

Every airline has different regulations regarding flying pregnant.  Some won’t let you fly after 32 weeks, while others will let you go up until the end.  In all of our research, it seemed most common for airlines to accept travel until 34-35 weeks.  I was flying at almost 37 weeks and the only airlines I could find to accept me were Delta, British Airways, and Emirates.  When flying this pregnant, be very careful to check into their regulations and know that it’s always a good idea to carry a clearance letter from your doctor saying that you are fit to fly (even if they don’t require one).  Even while following  all of the rules, try not to draw attention to the fact that you’re really pregnant.  Even while wearing baggy clothes and hanging back behind my husband, we still had some significant delays (30-45 minutes) at each stop where they thoroughly examined all my paperwork and checked with multiple levels of management to see if they would allow me to fly (since I was within 2 days of their cut-off).  Not wanting to be stuck at a random stop on our journey, we found it best to laugh lots and smile!  Afterall, this is one of those situations where it’s much better to have friends than enemies!

4).  Relax

Not only does relaxing eliminate a lot of emotional stress, but this late in pregnancy, it also eliminates a lot of physical stress.  For me, it helped to have a mental plan of how I expected the trip to go along with a list of “what if’s” to fall back on if things got rough.  Communicating those with my husband was also crucial, since he still hasn’t learned to read my mind :)

5).  Dress for Comfort

I started off the trip in a pair of yoga pants, thinking that they would be my best bet.  Those were quickly changed for my pajamas once I finally let go of how I looked and started to focus on how I felt.  I knew I needed to be as comfortable as possible and that starting with my dress was a great way to accomplish that.  Afterall, the only people from that flight that I would likely ever see again see me in my pj’s daily!  Another lifesaver was compression socks and loose fitting shoes.  Bye-bye monstrously swollen, post travel ankles!

 

How about you – do you have any experience traveling while very pregnant?  I’d love to hear some of your tips and ideas!

4 Comments

  • E B says:

    Wow! I had NO idea that international airlines (well, flights) are catering to kids so much these days. No tips for traveling pregnant, myself, other than to keep a big water bottle with you at all times. Planes and travel in general are dehydrating.

  • Michelle H says:

    I haven’t flown international with my kids for a few years, but I did always love that they would get their food first! We flew Air Canada for our long hauls usually and the flight attendants were also very good at bringing snacks whenever it seemed like the kids had been good for long enough :)

  • jen says:

    Great tips. While I’m not flying I am planning an event 4 hours from the hospital the day I hit 37 weeks. This makes me feel better. If you can fly halfway around the world I can do my little event;)

  • Tristen says:

    I love these posts. You are a rock star and I’m so glad we are friends. Keep on keeping on, can’t wait to hear about the baby!!

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