Whoever said it’s about the journey and not the destination has never flown economy while pregnant. Whether you’re on vacation or a business trip, the usual indignities only get worse when you’re expecting—crowded seats feel super-cramped, and dry, recirculating air does extra damage on pregnancy-sensitive skin. Then there’s the heightened risk of blood clots and dehydration, just to name a few more inconveniences standing in the way between you and that sandy-white beach (or a drab but now appealingly expansive conference hall). We can’t make the misery disappear, but we can recommend a few expert-approved items to stash in your carry-on that’ll make a world of a difference.
1. Anti-nausea Treatment
Not-so-fun fact: Women who are prone to motion sickness are likelier to suffer from morning sickness, says Shannon M. Clark, associate professor of maternal-fetal medicine at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. If you’re one of the unlucky ducks vulnerable to this double-whammy, then you definitely need to bring your ginger tea or lollipops, prescription anti-nausea meds or motion-sickness bands—whatever works for you on the ground will help in the air.
2. Comfortable Shoes
Note the plural. That’s because you need to make sure to wear flats onto the plane. (We’re partial to ballet flats—they’re cute, easy to slip on and off at the security gate, and are comfy for walking up and down the aisle during the flight—which you definitely should do to keep that circulation going). But you should also pack a pair of flip-flops, which Clark did when traveling with twins on the way. “Your feet will swell up, so your size at the end of the trip won’t be necessarily the same as they were in the beginning of the trip,” Clark says. Rather than cramming them into your shoes, flip-flops are an easy solution (as are some other light but stretchy weather-appropriate shoe).
3. Compression Socks
These are helpful even if you’re not pregnant, but if you are, they’re practically mandatory, given that your circulation will be poor in the lower part of your legs. Wear these socks on board and you’ll keep your circulation humming along, preventing varicose veins as well as potentially life-threatening clots. Choose a pair that feels snug but not restrictive. (And yes, you still need to walk around every couple of hours, even when you’re wearing these socks.)
What kind depends on you. If you’re suffering from back pain, you might consider a lumbar support pillow—you know, the kind you slip onto an office chair. Others might prefer a neck-support pillow or a moldable pillow, which you can squish any which way until you feel comfortable. Clark says she was comfy with just a pillow from home.
5. Pregnancy Support Belt
If you’ve got a big-time belly, these belly bands can provide support, whether you’re racing from gate to gate at the airport or trying to get comfortable in your seat, Clark says.
6. Panty Liners and an Extra Panty
We don’t have to remind you that pregnancy can bring along more discharge than usual. An extra pair of underwear and a good stash of liners can keep you feeling a teensy bit fresher than you would otherwise.
7. Reflux Meds
If you’re experiencing GI troubles, you’re more likely to suffer from them while traveling, so be sure to pack whatever you’ve been taking at home. (By the way, remember to grab your prenatal vitamins when traveling too.)
You’re shivering one moment but raging hot the next. Dress in layers (complete with a tank top as your base layer) and don’t leave home without this handy cover-up, which also doubles as a blanket. Bring it in a neutral color and it’ll work as an extremely versatile accessory too.
Cravings don’t stop just because you’re thousands of feet up in the air, and those tiny pretzel packets won’t cut it. Spare yourself the misery and keep a stash of your favorites on your person at all times. (High-protein picks keep cravings in check—anything with peanut butter or full-on nuts is a good bet.)
Obviously. Grab a bottle size that’s appropriate for the duration of your trip—plus an extra. “You never know if you’ll end up with delays,” says Clark, who prefers to bring her own bottle. “I like to see where my water comes from,” she says. If you end up having to ask your flight attendant for water, specify that you want “water from a bottle,” she adds.
Published December 2017
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