By Sherry Spause
Travel Advantage Network Writer
Pregnancy may have its concerns, but travel isn’t one of them.
At least that’s what Andrea Carter Menke might tell you if you ask her. And she should know. She’s seven months pregnant and flies for a living.
Carter Menke works as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines at Baltimore Washington International Airport. And during her 13 years walking the aisle she’s seen a few pregnant travelers, all with the potential to ignore doctor’s orders.
So, over the years did her pregnant passengers stay glued to their seats from take-off to touchdown, increasing their chances of deep vein thrombosis?
Did they squirm in their seats as they wrestled with tight-fitting clothing?
How about guzzling down soda after carbonated soda, increasing the possibility of uncomfortable bloating?
“Most follow the rules,” says Carter Menke. “Usually there’s no problem when you fly when you’re pregnant.”
And even if someone forgets, drinks a soda before boarding and feels discomfort at high altitudes, Carter Menke has the solution. “If they’re having severe gas pain, we ask the cabin to lower (the plane) to a different altitude,” she says.
Even though normal pregnancies present few concerns for air travel, the Federal Aviation Administration still has specific guidelines to regulate its pregnant passengers: “Pregnancy past 32 weeks should be carefully considered for restriction from flight and those past 36 weeks should be prohibited from flying.”
Eventually, Carter Menke will not be free to move about the country. But for now, “it’s easy, wonderful. No problems at all. I feel lucky. …Because I’ve been flying for so long, I’m comfortable. I know what to expect.”
TAN client Aleksandra Labuda has flown while pregnant too, and is expecting her second child in August. Even though she experienced no problems on her flight, her family will drive to Florida when they vacation in March. She says it will take two nine-hour days to get there.
“We don’t care. We are used to it,” Labuda says. “Right now I do feel good. … I exercise every day. I’m in pretty good condition. It’s safe if you’re reasonable. (And ) my husband will be driving most of the time.”
The travel recommendations for driving resemble those for air travel with a few exceptions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has this to say to pregnant drivers and passengers:
Always wear a seat belt. Never place the shoulder belt behind you or under your arm. The lap belt should lie across your hips and below your belly.
Keep the air bag switch on. They work with seat belts to protect passengers in a crash.
Adjust your seat. Your breastbone should be at least 10 inches from the steering wheel or dashboard. As you continue through your pregnancy and your belly grows, move the seat as far back as possible for you to safely reach the pedals.
Labuda plans to drink plenty of water, take frequent walking breaks and elevate her legs when necessary during her two-day trek from Illinois. “I do not worry about this,” Labuda says.
“I just can’t wait to go. It’s 20-something (degrees) all the time. I’ve had enough of this winter.”
**You may view a video of this information by visiting TAN's online sponsorship at www.bbb.org