How I Survived a 6 Hour Flight While 8 Months Pregnant

I flew from Toronto to Los Angeles when I was about 7 months pregnant and I did absolutely nothing to prepare for it. I wore tight shoes, uncomfortable jeans and had nothing in the way of snacks. It was ten years ago and I still wonder what the fuck I was thinking. Thankfully, Jennifer did a better job of preparing. -Amy


When I was just about 8 months pregnant with my son Alex, we got a call.

It was from my husband’s brother. His father, my father-in-law, had passed away, and his funeral was being held that weekend, in his hometown of Boston.

We were living in California at the time, and although it was on the other side of the country, I really wanted to be there for him. He insisted that I stay home and not burden myself (and our son) with the long trip, I refused.

I’m a tough chicken, and I thought it would be a piece of cake. I’m no stranger to flying, and I seem to be of the rare breed that actually enjoys the whole experience. Everyone seems to get really stressed out at the whole idea, but not me.

But things are different when you’re pregnant. Oh boy, are they different!

After reading online about flying when pregnant, I did myself the wonderful service of becoming absolutely terrified of getting a blood clot during the flight. After talking to my doctor about it (and secretly praying that he’d tell me I’d be fine) he recommended I buy some compression stockings from the pharmacy.

Let me just say that I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of wearing stockings. They brought to mind images of old women, and in reality, they made my legs feel like and resemble overstuffed sausages.

My legs, ankles and feet were already super swollen at this point and the stockings didn’t exactly help things. But to me it was better than the risk of getting a blood clot. I would say it was being overly paranoid, but this is an actual risk.

I also made an effort to get up and walk as much as possible. And since I had to pee roughly every 15 minutes, this wasn’t a hard schedule to keep to.

Anyone who’s a smart flyer knows that you should dress for comfort rather than fashion when flying. But as a pregnant woman, I took it to an extreme.

I may have been wearing pants that rivaled MC Hammer’s and something that could only be described as a shawl meant for conjoined twins. I also had a nice pair of slippers to put on top of the stockings, too.

But damn I was comfortable!

And seating is absolutely crucial, as I found out.

I secretly wished we had the money to book seats in first class, but being a young family and trying to budget and prepare for our first child, it wasn’t exactly in the cards. So we had to go with what was left at the time we booked our flight, only a few days in advance.

We weren’t even supposed to have seats next to each other, which I was extremely bummed about. I had an aisle seat, and he was about 10 seats away.

But something awesome happened.

The woman next to me started asking me about my pregnancy, how far along I was and was generally really concerned. Usually, I’m pretty annoyed by people talking to me on planes; I’m the kind of person that would rather be left alone.

Of course, one of the first things she asked me about was if I was flying alone, and I told her about the situation and how my husband was way up in the front.

It turned out she had been in my shoes before, and without even thinking about it twice, she offered to switch seats with him so he could sit beside me.

I could have actually cried, and maybe I did a little.

I was really touched by how kind and considerate most people were during this whole experience. They really made the whole ordeal much more tolerable, and it makes me realize that there really are still good people out there. I wish I caught her name so I could thank her here. It really meant a lot to me.

Let me just say something, though:

During my pregnancy, I was apparently blessed with a superpower. But oh no, it wasn’t anything awesome like being able to turn invisible or shoot lasers from my eyeballs.

I was bestowed the incredible power of a superwoman sense of smell.

Even being quite a distance away from the bathroom, I could still catch a whiff of it every once and a while was almost overpoweringly nasty. Not to mention that I could apparently sense someone taking their shoes off from 100 feet away.

I was well over the pregnancy nausea by that point, but I have a weak stomach in general, and sitting for over 6 hours in what, if I closed my eyes, I could describe as a locker room with an outhouse in the middle of it was a little hard to handle.

I hope for the sake of humanity, somewhere along the line we evolve to have something actually useful when we’re pregnant. Like, I dunno, not having to ever use the bathroom, kind of like the North Korean leader.

We also packed a lot of snacks, as along with my bladder shrinkage I also gained a hunger comparable to only that of a world-class sumo wrestler. We were supposed to get an in-flight meal, but I knew that wasn’t going to satisfy my gargantuan appetite. I wasn’t all that keen on eating radiated food, so we bought a few overpriced things before we boarded the plane.

The flight itself was fairly uneventful. And for that I’m eternally grateful! I didn’t even get puked on by a baby this time (that’s another story for another time).

I’d hoped that I could get some sleep in, but the cramped seat combined with my pregnant belly and constant need to pee meant that I didn’t fall asleep even for a second.

I did have my iPad with me, loaded up with a bunch of episodes of The Office (best show ever!) which made things much more bearable. The only downside to watching something like The Office during a flight, with headphones on is that at some point I had tears running down my face because I was trying so hard not to laugh out loud. I miss that show!

Somewhere after about 30 trips to the bathroom, we arrived at our destination.

This part is hard to remember; I was pretty drained after the whole experience. We were picked up at the airport by my husband’s brother, and it felt so good to finally be on solid ground again. We got back to he and his wife’s house and I remember laying down in bed for a minute, and next thing I knew it was morning.

All in all, it wasn’t an awful experience, but not really something I’d like to go through again any time soon. As much as I love flying, doing it when you’re a month away from bursting isn’t exactly the most comfortable way to spend a day of your life.

One thing really surprised me in a good way, though: everyone was really caring and accommodating, and that includes the airline staff. The stewardesses asked me throughout the flight if everything was okay or if I needed anything, and people in general were really nice. Maybe they were afraid I was going to burst on the spot, because I looked like I could have, but it was really, really appreciated.

It made me a little bit less cynical, which says a lot coming from me.

The whole thing was certainly draining and you should absolutely try to fly business class if you’re pregnant and going on a flight of significant length. The economy class seats aren’t really designed for the pregnant body in mind, to say the least. But if I can handle it, anyone can.

The whole flying experience was rough, but I’m tough, and I was glad I did it. The weekend wasn’t easy for my husband, and I was really glad I could be there for him. I wasn’t going to let 7 pounds & 2 ounces stop me!

Flying as a pregnant mom is more exhausting than I thought it would be. And that’s saying something!

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  • Just adding my experience because a few months ago I was looking for articles exactly like this: I flew Paris-Dubai (6 hours) followed by Dubai-Cape Town (9 hours) recently at 5.5 and 6 months pregnant, and it was fine. Of course six months isn’t eight months! Honestly I think hardly anyone noticed I was pregnant! But I think the airline you choose (mine was not a last minute purchase luckily for me…) can play a big role. (Emirates was wonderful. Compression stockings as well.)

  • i just flew across the country (NY to Salt Lake) at 36 weeks pregnant last month and i wish my experience was as nice as yours! we moved from NY to Utah and the safest way to get me from point a to point b was flying, even though it was late in my pregnancy- i had my mom and my toddler with me and our seats kept getting separated and no one would switch with us so we could be together, one lady even overheard that we were separated and was in the same row as my mom and daughter and told me to my face she would only switch me if i paid her $100. the stewardesses were all rude and kept telling me to sit down the whole flight and the staff at the gate wouldn’t let me preboard with my daughter. everyone watching me board the plane gave me the stink eye (as if i were traveling that pregnant for my own enjoyment). it was horrible. i wouldn’t wish it on anyone. i have a feeling if i were flying from West to East like you did it would have been a little more pleasant. east coast departures have the rudest staff and passengers 🙁

    • W…what? Someone told you they’d switch seats for $100? That’s just so gross. I’m so sorry you had such an awful experience! I can’t believe how different it was from mine.

  • We ended up making an international move when I was 6 months pregnant. That meant a 9 hour flight. And as luck would have it, there was an infant in her car seat behind me so I couldn’t recline! It was a LONG flight…

    • Oh geeze, I can’t even imagine that. I’m surprised the parents didn’t move her to a different seat. 🙁

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