My husband and I are frequent travelers. Last spring, about three weeks before I found out I was expecting our first child, we booked flights for a bucket list trip – Greece – and combined it with a trip to Germany for a wedding. I wasn’t too concerned. After all, getting pregnant takes time and I’ve never had problems with motion sickness before.
Two weeks before our trip, I woke up with morning sickness. The kind that lasted all day and made me throw up anything I ate. I learned that I dislike ginger, that I could get sick from looking at a glass of water, and that even the smell of food could send me to the bathroom. My doctor prescribed me Zofran, and since my pregnancy was low risk in every other way, told me to enjoy my trip. We flew to Europe when I was 9 weeks pregnant and back to the US at 11 weeks pregnant. We also did a couple short hop flights in the middle, a few train trips, and one day out on a boat. Here’s how we survived our flights.
We packed a lot of snacks. Anything that was appealing, plus a lot of fruit (which I was craving), got packed in our carry on. Normally, we bring just a few snacks for the flight and the first day or two. For that trip, we packed enough to keep me fed the whole way to Europe. We packed granola bars, fruit snacks, crackers, and Preggie Naturals Chews. I reused a large yogurt container for grapes, and tossed it upon arrival.
I made sure to take medication before sightseeing. When we were home, I waited until I couldn’t stand the nausea any longer, and then took the Zofran. When traveling, I made sure to take it before leaving for the day, so I wasn’t feeling sick on a flight or in a museum.
I dressed comfortably. I usually dress fairly nicely for flights and travel, but for this trip, I bought a pair of maternity leggings and a comfortable top, so I’d be as comfortable as possible on the flight, and during our trip.
Normally, I’ll do anything to be in the window seat, especially on an international flight. I try to catch at least 4-5 hours of sleep on the long flights so I can function when I arrive. But this time, I prioritized drinking water and moving around. Hydration is key in all stages of pregnancy, but especially when flying, so do everyone a favor and grab the aisle seat.
Our flight home was a new route – it’d only been in use for about a week when we flew. There was next to no one on board, so I was able to grab an entire row in economy and sleep laying down for much of that flight. If you can’t upgrade, do your best to keep your legs elevated when flying as it keeps the swelling down and made the trips easier. When you check in, see if there are rows with empty seats, and move there. There’s a chance you’ll still have a seat empty next to you.
Show yourself grace. We stayed at an AirBnB in Athens, and we ate in for more of our meals than usual.
I didn’t try as much local cooking, but I also was able to cook foods I knew would sit well. We made sure to have plenty of down time for me between adventures. If you’re prone to throwing up (I was nauseous, but didn’t throw up that often), let your flight attendants know. They’ll do their best to take care of you.
All in all, we had a fantastic time on our trip. Morning sickness is hard to predict, and mine lasted well into my second trimester. I was lucky that I didn’t have any complications and could still travel. Always consult with your doctor first, but don’t be afraid to fly while pregnant!
Emily Wenzel lives in Spokane, Wash., with her husband and daughter. She’s been a wedding + lifestyle portrait photographer for 10 years. Emily believes that you shouldn’t stop traveling when you have kids, and that it’s important to start traveling when they’re young.
Hermione Granger is her hero, Gonzaga basketball is her favorite time of year, and she’ll always say yes to sushi.