Unless you have complications, such as placenta previa or a history of preterm labor, flying while pregnant is perfectly safe, at least for a while, says Paige Long Sharps, MD, an ob-gyn at Montefiore Medical Center, in New York City. But timing is everything. Although flying in the first trimester is fine as far as the health of your baby is concerned, morning sickness and fatigue can make it unpleasant for you. The sweet spot is between 14 and 28 weeks, when those symptoms are (hopefully) behind you, the risk of miscarriage has decreased dramatically, and third-trimester discomforts like backaches, swelling, and heartburn have yet to strike. Doctors say it's okay to travel after 30 weeks -- as long as you're not carrying multiples -- but you should stay grounded once you hit 36 weeks in case your little one decides to make an early debut. If you absolutely must fly late in your pregnancy, check the airline's policy to find out whether you'll need a doctor's note of approval. But no matter when you fly, try to book your flight early so you can nab the best seat: one on the aisle provides easy access to the bathroom, the front of the plane offers better air circulation, and the bulkhead boasts extra legroom.
Once you're in the air, there's lots you can do to ease pregnancy aches and pains. Stow a supply of ob-approved meds like Tylenol and Maalox in your carry-on, and wear stretchy, breathable clothes. It's also important to drink plenty of water and to keep moving during the flight, since pregnancy ups your chances of developing a potentially dangerous blood clot. Stretch by walking up and down the aisle every hour, and exercise while you're seated as well. One simple move: alternately pointing and flexing each foot. Aim to do three sets of 10 for each hour that you're in flight.