The US immigration official in Shannon airport eyes up my bump.
"When is the baby due?"
It's late April. I'm 33 weeks pregnant.
"Mid June. June 16th is my due date"
"And you're okay with that?"
I am. There are a few people who have questioned the wisdom of travelling so far so late into my pregnancy, but my GP and my midwife are not among them, so off I go! Footloose and toddler-free.
And it is so worth it. A few days of lie-ins and late dinners with my husband. Strolls around Central Park and through museums. Photography tours and rooftop parties. People-watching and eavesdropping in hipster cafes. Life is good. Yes, I have to plan my sightseeing around toilet breaks, but I am travelling I am free. I am in New York!
I can't recommend it enough- a break with your significant other in advance of baby taking over every waking minute (many more waking minutes in the day than you're accustomed to by the way). It's even sweeter if this is baby number two (I imagine the sweetness increases exponentially as you move through baby number 3, 4 5 etc).
A few things to note though before you whip out the credit card and book that flight to Fiji.
- Check the airline policy on flying when pregnant. They vary quite a bit in terms of how many weeks pregnant you are allowed to be before the plane becomes a no-bump zone. You don't want to book an expensive flight only to discover they don't want your lovely bump on board.
- Fill in the appropriate forms. The airline will want your doctor or midwife to complete a form stating you're cleared for travel. They won't always ask for it. I flew with Ryanair and they didn't ask to see it, but a couple of weeks later with Aer Lingus and they ask you to email it to them in advance, and they scrutinised the form again in the airport when I checked in.
- Check your travel insurance. It seems many travel insurance policies won't cover you for pregnancy-related health expenses, some at all, some after a certain number of weeks gestation, so be sure to check the policy wording. It may be that your private health insurance covers you (this was the case with my trip), but it's worth getting confirmation from them so you can rest easy (and partly reassure your mother who thinks you are going to go into labour mid-flight).
- Book an aisle seat for the flight for easy access to the loo, and to keep the legs and circulation moving. Deep vein thrombosis is a real risk with the combination of pregnancy and flying. Support tights a must for the same reason.
- Stay hydrated and try to get enough sleep, before and during flights. I had pretty intense Braxton Hicks contractions on the way home- dehydration can be a factor in this, and plane travel increases dehydration. Yes, you will have to pee lots... but it beats thinking you're going into early labour and wondering how you're going to put up with the "I told you so's" from your mother.