…and the new post-natal you
Whether you are feeling brave enough to take your first family vacation or travel is a necessity of your life, you might be understandably nervous the first time you need to leave home with your newborn in tow. Fear not!
I have collated for you this week my 5 top tips for newborn travel, answering some of the biggest concerns new mothers have, and not forgetting a little advice for mum too!
Is it safe to fly with a newborn? Yes! Babies can fly, and fly well! In fact, if you are ever going to travel with an infant, the younger the better. Always check with your airline first on their rules for travel, most will refuse to fly a baby within 48 hours of birth and recommend that you do not fly within 7 days unless you have a doctors letter and travel is vital.
If you are living aboard it’s likely you will need to wait several weeks anyway while the child’s birth is registered and passports issued – so use this time to get yourself physically well enough too. Unless you had the miracle birth, you will either have C-section stitches to recover from or stitching and pain underneath that will make sitting still and upright for any great period of time quite uncomfortable.
If needs must though and you do need to travel within that first month, I’d still recommend getting the all clear for both you and the baby from a medical practitioner and be sure of what medical facilities are available at your destination. (See more on baby flying in our post Tackling your Very First Flight)
2. Book the best seats
The reason I say the younger the better for flying is when they are only a small infant, not only do they weigh a lot less, they wriggle less, they sleep more and you may well be able to use an infant bassinet on a long-haul flight. This is a basket that the aircrew can attach to the wall in the bulkhead seats after takeoff, meaning you can lie baby flat while you sit back and stretch your legs.
There are several seating options for parents of newborns. Most international airlines offer you an infant ticket if you are happy to hold baby in your lap for 10% of the adult ticket price which will also include extra luggage allowances for your baby equipment. You should always contact your airline in advance to book the bassinet seat if this is your preference, but they are likely to tell you they cannot guarantee this seat until you turn up at the airport to check in.
If you would prefer to have baby out of your arms and in their own seat, you can, of course, book them a child’s seat. The cost of this varies greatly by airline, but expect to pay about 75% of an adult fare. You will need to bring an approved infant capsule if using this method – see FAA Guidelines and check with your airline that your seat is approved before attempting to board with one, otherwise you will be asked to hold your infant with a special infant seat belt attachment (and you would have wasted your money on that extra seat!)
Another note on taking the bulkhead seats – these really are brilliant when your infant still fits in the bassinet, but as they grow (consider length and weight), or if you have older siblings to consider you may prefer a different seating strategy as the arm rests in the bulkhead seats do not lift up.
3. Another great reason breast is best
Other than all those glorious health benefits your baby will get from drinking mum’s milk – how seriously convenient is it when you’re travelling to have a built in kitchen!! No running to the shop because you’re out of formula, no boiling, washing and sterilising to worry about – milk available 24/7 on demand! But wait you want more? Sucking on mum’s boob can help equalise the pressure in a little ones ears on takeoff and decent on the plane.
Now fear not bottle feeding mums, you’re not forgotten. You can, of course, give baby a dummy or bottle in equally the same way to suck on, and with a little preparation you can get hot water on a plane and arrange for bottles to be washed – but you really can’t beat the convenience of the boob!
Do remember a nursing cover, this has been my saviour over the years and has given me the confidence to feed my babies anywhere and everywhere I need to while maintaining our privacy
4. Routine vaccines
Depending on your destination, it is not considered necessary to delay travel with an infant until they have had their first round of routine vaccinations. Of course, use some common sense here; if there is a reported outbreak of a particular disease at your destination then you may need to delay your travel or discuss early vaccinations with your medical practitioner. Some parents do like to wait until infants are over 3 months but this is purely personal choice.
If you are flying anywhere that requires additional vaccines such as yellow fever or malaria, your medical practitioner may recommend you wait until the child is over a certain age when their bodies are better able to handle the vaccines. To read more on health issues when travelling, do check out the Health Issues page on the Globetrotters website.
5. Don’t forget about YOU!
If you are anything like me you probably spend so much time thinking about nappies, baby wipes and bottles you tend to neglect what YOU need when you’re travelling. My biggest piece of advice – try on your swimsuit before you pack it!!
Why? Your body shape is likely to have changed significantly over the preceding 12 months; whether you are one of those lucky sods who has regained their figure straight away or you are comfortably invested in your new more maternal shape, chances are the swimsuit you had on either before or during your pregnancy may not fit in the same way. The parts of you that are likely to have moved around the most are your boobs and your tummy so make sure these still fit in – or can come out as the case may be!
Likewise, if it’s been a while since you could actually see your nether region, you may want to book a quick trip to the beauty salon before you travel to give your bikini line the attention it now deserves.
Another note on your postnatal body – nobody is bothered by it. Seriously! Don’t feel ashamed or delay your travel ‘until the stretch marks are gone’ or your belly ‘goes down’. You may feel more comfortable continuing to wear pregnancy swimsuits for a while, but honestly, you are the only one concerned by your body’s changes.
If you do have stretch marks make sure you apply a high SPF sunscreen but otherwise, there’s no reason you should feel ashamed and hide. Perhaps consider changing your swimsuit style – for the months straight after a birth I like the loose tankini style the best (check out some great designs on my Pregnancy & Newborn Pinterest Board).
There you have it. I hope you feel comfortable that you and your new bundle of joy can safely travel – and avoid any embarrassing little mishaps!
Have you seen our Family Airline Review series? Everything you need to know before flying with your baby from bassinet sizes to what baby equipment you can bring on board
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Where have you been with your newborn? Was there anything you wish you’d known before undertaking your first baby journey?
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