I’ve taken 12 flights in the first 16 weeks of this pregnancy and some were much more challenging than others. Flying during the first trimester is generally not recommended because it’s not a pleasant thing to do when you’re deep in the throes of morning sickness. But for some women, like myself, who travel for work or have commitments that can’t be changed, travelling in the first trimester is something that can’t be avoided, BUT with a bit of planning I assure you it can be survived!
I discovered I was pregnant the day before I flew from Melbourne to London to join a 2 week blog trip cruising around Europe. While it was still early days on the way out and I felt fairly normal, I was 7/8 weeks pregnant on the way home and it was a whole other ballgame.
So, for other women whose jobs involve travel or you have travel plans that cannot be changed, here are some things I learned about surviving a long haul flight in your first trimester, if you cannot avoid flying!
Tips for flying long haul in your first trimester
Pack your own barf bags
I learned in my first trimester that you never quite know when ‘morning’ sickness might strike. Although you’ll find an air sickness bag in your seat pocket it was all the stages between leaving the house and getting on the plane that filled me with anxiety.
Pack your own barf bags and not only will you never get caught short (imagine feeling the need to vomit at passport control!) but also just knowing they are at hand when you need them can help settle an anxious mind.
I didn’t have time to order these ones online so stashed paper prescription bags from Boots into my hand luggage instead!
Pack your own snacks – lots of them!
My sensitive belly could stomach only the simplest of foods during the first trimester so I knew an airline meal probably wasn’t going to be palatable.
Instead I ate what I could at the airport before boarding and packed a lot of dry snacks – crackers, cereal bars, fruit, nuts, crisps, herbal tea, biscuits etc.
I recommend packing more than you need because, if you end up with any delays or are transiting and find you have a long way to walk between flights, you’ll want to have sustenance to hand.
Thinking ahead to flying with children? Find some great tips for travelling with car seats.
Our first leg from London to Melbourne was with Emirates and I loved that they had a separate boarding area for pregnant women (along with families and passengers needing assistance.)
It was a long walk to the gate and by the time I got there I just wanted to put my head between my legs and try not to vomit. The general gate area was packed so when I saw the section for pregnant women I said a hallelujah and hid in the corner until I felt better.
They also let these passengers board early so I could get settled without too much jostling from other passengers. I’m not sure what policy other airlines have but it’s worth asking if they’ll let you get on early, even if it’s just to wrestle with the flight socks before other passengers join your row!
Tell the crew
Speaking of crew, I flew one leg of the London to Melbourne journey with Emirates and one with Qantas and the crew on both flights were great at looking out for me once I warned them I was a little nauseas from morning sickness.
They refilled the water bottle I’d had to empty at Dubai Airport and double checked I was good throughout the flight too.
Sleep through the meal service
On the airplane, as predicted, not only did I find the idea of the airline meal unpalatable but just the smell of the food being prepared made me heave. (Not to be too graphic but my super sensitive nostrils could smell both the loos and food being prepared in the galley from rows away and when meal service started it smelt to me like they were handing out dirty nappies!)
As I’d already eaten I let the crew know I wanted to sleep through the meal (Emirates have a handy sticker system you place on the headrest) and I did my best to nod off and not gag so I wouldn’t put others off their dinner.
Wrap yourself up in good smells
I usually travel with a lavender scented balm or pillow spray to help me sleep on planes but found these products came in extra handy for dealing with the smells of the plane during pregnancy. As mentioned, I was super sensitive to the smell of the meals but also other passengers, including the bare feet that turned up on my armrest. (Yes lovely.)
My usual This Works Pillow Spray was a little too heavy so I used a subtle linen mist instead to spritz the airline blanket and also my scarf which I ended up wrapping around my head and face when I was really struggling with mingling odours. (You got to do what you got to do!) You can also try the baby version of the This Works Pillow Spray for a more subtle scent.
Pack a refillable water bottle & sip Hydralyte
To fend off dehydration I sipped as much water as I could and mixed in a Hydralyte (effervescent electrolyte tablet) to drink just before landing. I checked with my doctor that it was safe to consume Hydralyte before doing so and it’s something she recommended I take when I was vomiting a lot as well as when flying.
It made me feel more alert when it came time to transfer planes and made the taste of the tap water a little more pleasant too.
I tried a lot of the traditional morning sickness remedies you read about and sadly none of them worked for me. I found the prescription medication Maxalon a little help once I got back home but obviously couldn’t see my doctor until I’d survived the flight to Oz.
The only thing that vaguely helped me manage (and even then it could have been in my head) were the travel/seasickness bands that I picked up in Boots. You can find similar here.
Travel essentials for flying in the first trimester
Here’s where you can buy everything I’ve mentioned in my post plus a few extra items that helped me on my recent flights to the States.
- This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray
- This Works Baby Sleep Pillow Spray
- Trtl Neck Pillow
- Cozychic Lite Travel Shawl
- Sea Band wristband for natural nausea relief
- Memory foam lumbar pillow
- Vomit/barf bags
- Premium grade flight socks
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