Does the happy glow of pregnancy still glow when you fly on an airplane? Or does it fade at the first sight of cramped seats and crying children? My wife has some opinions on this subject. She’s an airplane pilot, and she’s pregnant.
But first, she wants to set something straight.
“Happy glow?” she asks. ”If you want to call hemorrhoids, low bladder capacity, frequent indigestion and a constant backache a condition of “happy glowing,” then you are definitely — a man.”
She was feeling somewhat more chipper two months ago, when we flew off for one last romantic holiday before our first baby was due. We knew what was in store soon — a Diaper Genie and 2 a.m. feedings — so we ventured off to the Big Island of Hawaii for some sun and relaxation. I brought pen and paper along, thinking this would be the perfect opportunity to write about the future of our lives and the shape of things to come.
Trying very hard to ignore the crying baby behind us, we settled into our flight — me with my wine and my wife with her milk — and we wrote out these 10 tips together.
Ask your doctor
First and foremost, get your physician’s OK to fly. Our doctor gave us the green light to travel between the second and eighth months, provided there were no complications. Your doctor may have a different opinion.
Stop at the drug store
Bring along some antacids, extra-strength Tylenol and Preparation H. You may be feeling fine on the way to the airport, but once you take your cramped seat in the stuffy cabin, your body may decide to rebel.
Get up and dance
Force yourself to get up every couple of hours to stretch, walk or waddle around. Do whatever it takes to keep the blood flowing.
The airlines aren’t serving much in the way of food these days, and it could be several hours before you eat anything substantial, so bring a backup food supply. Luckily, we brought quite a bit of food with us, as there was no meal service for the entire eight-hour flight. (I am a flight attendant, and that appalled even me.) My wife highly recommends Fig Newtons.
Drink lots of water but mix it with 10 percent fruit juice. This way, rather than visiting the lavatory every 15 minutes, you’ll be going every 30 minutes instead. Believe me, that’s a big difference.
Take a seat
Speaking of going, you will want an aisle seat as close to the lavatory as possible. If you don’t get the aisle seat, tell the passengers seated in your row that you will need to move around a lot during the flight; maybe someone will switch seats with you. If not, feel no guilt about getting up as often as you need to. After all, they were warned.
Ask for help
If you need help with your bags, or you need any special assistance at all, don’t be afraid to ask. And please, if you feel anything is wrong or out of the ordinary, ask the flight attendant to call for a doctor. I once had an expectant mother on a flight who went into early labor; a doctor on board was able to stop the labor, thus avoiding a premature delivery.
Check your bags
Stowing your luggage in the overhead compartment is a tricky business in the best of circumstances, so skip the hassles and check it in. You’re in no hurry, so let someone else lug your baggage. Twenty pounds is about all you should lift when you’re pregnant, and we all know your bags weigh more than that.
Build in some wait time
No amount of encouragement can get a pregnant woman to move faster, not even a final boarding call, so allow more time than usual between connecting flights. Tip for husbands: Don’t tell your wife she reminds you of “The March of the Penguins” as she makes her way through the terminal. I learned this the hard way when I got a hard elbow to the gut.
Establish some boundaries
For some reason, people on airplanes are just dying to tell pregnant women the gruesome details of their own birthing experiences. When someone starts off with a story, just say, “No gory stories, please!” Similarly, if you don’t want strangers patting your belly, just say so. People mean well, but really, you’re not public property.
When we got to Hawaii, my wife and I slept for a day and a half, but eventually we enjoyed our romantic getaway. One curious note is that when we were snorkeling, turtles swam up and surrounded my wife; they seemed fascinated and protective at the same time.
Love takes on a special meaning when you see your wife, seven months pregnant, waddling down a beach in search of a snorkeling adventure. Seeing her heading out to sea in her black-and-white swimsuit reminded me of the penguin movie again, but this time I kept it to myself.
James Wysong is a veteran flight attendant who has worked with two major international carriers. James recently released a new book, For more information about James, visit or send him an .