Holiday travel can be exhausting at the best of times never mind when you’re pregnant or travelling with little ones, especially for the first time. Even the idea of it can be terrifying! But don’t worry, being prepared- both mentally and physically, can make all the difference. So sit back, relax and arm yourself with these tips to keep you sane at 30,000 feet.
Travelling While Pregnant:
- The most important thing before travelling while pregnant is to consult your doctor and make sure you are absolutely safe to travel. Air travel is generally not recommended after 36 weeks but may be even earlier if you have complications. Once you’ve confirmed you’re safe to travel here are a few things to consider:
- Check the airline’s policy in regards to travelling while pregnant. Different airlines have different guidelines and some may even require a letter from your doctor.
- Choose your seat early. Try to reserve a bulkhead seat or one with more legroom. Having somewhere to stretch out and keep your legs propped up will help promote circulation.
- Promote circulation. Take occasional walks up and down the aisles. If you must remain seated flex and extend your ankles often. Avoid wearing tight, restrictive clothing.
- Drink plenty of fluids and avoid gassy foods and drinks. Gases expand at altitude and can mean some nasty heartburn and serious discomfort during the flight for both Muma and baby. Pack a few healthy snacks such as fruit, veggies or nuts. Airplane food contains a lot of added salt and sugar, something your body does not need and could cause swelling. If you are very sensitive to foods or experiencing sickness, it may be a good idea to pack your own meal. A hungry, pregnant lady is not a happy flyer.
- Have a contingency plan. Consider obstetric care during your trip or be aware of hospitals or clinics in your area in case of emergency. Also, consider carrying your medical records, they may come in handy if you do have to visit a doctor that you are not familiar with.
Travelling with a Newborn
Flying with your new little “carry on” can be a daunting task. What do I pack? Do I need a bassinette? What about jetlag? Believe it or not flying with a baby who is under one year is probably one of the easiest times to travel with a child. Treat your journey like it’s an extended day out. Bring what you normally would, a few changes of clothes, food/formula, wipes, extra nappies. Then add a few extra nappies- always add a few extra!! I recommend one nappy for every hour of travel. Plus bring an extra set of clothes for yourself because as we know baby’s messes become our messes very easily. To carry your little one, opt for a fabric sling rather than a backpack or car seat. They are much lighter and portable. Also be sure to pack a “medical kit”, with essentials you may need such as Panadol in case of fever, teething remedies and more. Be sure to ask your doctor what they would recommend. Nothing is worse than dealing with a minor ailment at 30,000 feet and having nothing to soothe your little one.
Check with the airline before you leave to see what services they offer to help make your journey a little more comfortable. Reserving a seat with a bassinette, or not sitting near a high traffic area such as the galley or the toilet can help your baby to sleep and avoid unnecessary noise. They may also have pre-boarding arrangements, assistance in getting to the gate or stroller to the gate services.
Most airlines will relax their rules with regards to carrying on liquids when it comes to infant formulas and medicines. It’s always best to check with the individual airline concerning these rules first. Chances are it may take a little longer getting through security, but have prescriptions handy and point out any liquids you are carrying to the agent so you can save the time and hassle of them pulling your bags apart.
If your journey is a long one over several time zones, prepare for jetlag as early as you can. I always tell my clients who are travelling overseas- set your watch to your new time zone as soon as you board the plane. It takes about a day to adjust to each hour of time difference so the sooner you get started, the better. If going for less than a week, don’t force the baby into a new time zone, just go with the flow-remember you are on holiday. Exposing yourself to daylight often helps the body clock adjust so try to get out whenever you feel the urge to nap. The natural daylight will help stimulate the baby as well. Homeopathic remedies Arnica and Gelsemium are excellent remedies for both parents and baby and help ease the system through jetlag.
Many new parents worry about unsettling other passengers with a crying or fussy baby. This can cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety even before you board the plane. My best advice is put yourself and other passengers at ease by taking it one step at a time. Try to stay positive upon boarding, it can be a disruptive time, the calmer you are the calmer your baby will be. Smile and make eye contact with fellow passengers. You’ll be surprised how many are actually smiling back. Also if your baby does start to fuss, try to get up, walk around or simply cuddle your little one. When others see you making an effort they will be a lot more sympathetic.
Never change your baby’s nappy on the seat, no matter how inconvenient getting up may be. It’s unhygienic and very offensive to others no matter how cute your little one is.
Travelling with Multiple Children
If you’re up to the challenge of travelling with your baby and toddler, you really want to be prepared, because chances are your toddler won’t be. Toddlers can get grouchy or excited very quickly when travelling. The last thing you need is a temper tantrum and a crying infant. But if, and when, it does happen, stay calm. You may want to start screaming yourself, but remaining calm will help you think and also help your toddler calm down. Ask a flight attendant for assistance if you really need it. This will come in handy at times like when you need to take a trip to the toilet. Because try as you might, there is no way you will all fit in those tiny airline toilets.
Besides the above tips that will prove useful for both baby and toddler, you’ll also want to consider a few others to help ease the journey:
- Bring activities/movies/iPads for toddlers. Screens may not be your number one choice of activities for your little one, but after a few hours trapped in a plane, they may become your best friend. Using eBooks can save tons of weight and space.
- Bring food and snacks. Toddlers can be fussy so be sure to have some tried and true favourites to keep them from getting hungry and grumpy. Treats can also be great motivators when you really need them to comply.
- Check the airline for rules concerning number of children to adults. Some airlines only allow 2 children under 2 per adult for safety reasons. This isn’t something you want to find out at check-in.
- Don’t over pack your carry-on. You will have enough essentials; don’t add to your bulk by carrying “gimmick” items. The market is full of travel accessories for kids, most are completely unnecessary. Ask a friend with experience or enquire at your favourite children’s store, they’ll know what you need and what’s just useless, added weight.
Last but not least treat it as an adventure and take your time. Travelling while pregnant or with young children can be done and enjoyed. Chances are it won’t happen many times in your life so take it step by step and try not to stress out. No matter how long, crazy or exhausting the flight will eventually end. You may arrive at your destination a little more haggard than usual, but the joy of embarking on a holiday or seeing loved ones on the other end will definitely make it all worthwhile. Remember what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Happy Holidays and Bon Voyage!
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