It is totally safe for a woman to fly until somewhere between her 32nd and 36th week, depending on her medical team’s opinion and the restrictions on a given airline.
However, this is not to say that it is necessarily easy.
With my first pregnancy, we traveled from Boston to Chicago when I was about 12 weeks pregnant, to Los Angeles and San Diego when I was about 20 weeks pregnant and finally to DC when I was about 30 weeks. I was with Ravi on all three trips, and my health was much more predictably better. While I might have thrown up a few times in Chicago, I had no issues with the flights, the motion, stamina, or anything, really. Apart from not going on the vast majority of rides at Disneyland, and avoiding hot tubs, being pregnant didn’t have a huge impact on travel for me.
With this pregnancy, it has been a very different story. When we came home to the US around my 12th week, the smells of food and coffee in an enclosed space with recycled air made me nauseous to the point of breathing through my shirt and one dash to the bathroom (where thankfully I was spared being sick). Heading back to Singapore, I was lucky that my friend Jim was along, and he helped with the carrying of heavy things.
This week of travel has been the first time I have traveled alone while pregnant, and I have found it very challenging for a variety of reasons.
- Having to lift heavy things is never a good idea for me (I have a bad back) but when I had to drag two suitcases all over seatac to get to my rental car and then back to check in, I ended up having a few contractions due to the strain.
- I have had to take it far easier and do far less on a daily basis than I did the last time around. That’s been true of the pregnancy in general, but it can be particularly frustrating when in a new city (or cities).
As with many things, your mileage may vary and will likely depend on how your pregnancy is going overall.
What I’ve learned to do on this trip is something that is very hard for me–I have had to ask for help. Help picking up my bags. Help in the form of understanding when I’ve cancelled plans with a friend (as I had to this evening due to illness). I have had to admit that I am NOT superwoman. That this pregnancy has been difficult, and that I can only waddle around a city for so long before I need to sit down. That I might need help in the form of driving from location to location and paying for parking rather than walking a mile or jumping on public transit. Help in the form of hiring a town car with driver to meet me so he can deal with my bags and with driving me to the hotel. Help from kind people willing to get the pregnant woman’s bag from the overhead bin. Help from strangers who let me have a seat on the airport train. And when I haven’t been offered help, if I need it, I’m learning that it’s okay to say “excuse me, but could you help me with/by….”
I don’t think it’s a bad idea to travel while pregnant (obviously) but I do think it’s important to listen to your body and try to avoid once in a lifetime experiences that you might feel cheated by if you can’t do everything you wanted to.
For that very reason, Seattle, Portland and San Francisco were great choices for me. Seattle is a new city to me, but I primarily went to see my friend. The number of “tourist” things I wanted to do was fairly low. With Portland, I only had two things on my agenda. I’ve been San Francisco a number of times before, so I feel no pressure to do much of anything here except see my friends and family.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not relieved to know that I’ll be seeing Ravi and Ellie in less than 12 hours. Having the support of a spouse will be a good help, and I miss the two of them like crazy.
I’ll post again soon with some pictures and stories from my trip so far.