Flying when pregnant – is it safe?
What are the risks and how do I manage them?
So you are pregnant (congratulations!) and super excited about it! But the excitement has worn off and the stress has set in. One thing you might be thinking about flying when pregnant is something like ‘Can I still attend my favorite cousin’s wedding in Greece?’ or ‘What about that crucial work meeting interstate next month?’ There are countless reasons why you may need to fly when pregnant.
‘Is it safe? Will my unborn baby be okay?’ We are glad you asked. This article will answer all your questions regarding flying when pregnant. Keep reading to find out the dos and don’ts!
Flying When Pregnant – Is It Safe?
If you have a normal and healthy pregnancy, it is indeed safe to fly when pregnant. Studies have shown that flying when pregnant is neither harmful to you or your unborn child.
Most airlines, however, have regulations regarding flying when pregnant. The airlines will want to know how advanced you are in your pregnancy and if you have any pregnancy-related complications.
You may also be interested in other Mum Q+A TIPS
When Is the Safest Time to Fly?
The best time to fly is in your second trimester, between 14-27 weeks. This is because you are at this time likely to have more energy and your morning sickness may be over. Also, the risk of having a miscarriage has significantly reduced.
Most airlines will however not allow you to travel after 36 weeks for single pregnancies. If you are carrying twins or multiples, you will not be allowed to travel after 32 weeks.
Additionally, while traveling after your 28th week, most airlines will require you to produce a doctor’s note. This will have details of your due date and whether you are having a healthy pregnancy or not.
In case you are having complications in your pregnancy, your doctor will have to clear you for the flight.
Potential Health Risks
As mentioned, it is generally safe for pregnant women to fly. There however some health risks associated with flying while pregnant. We shall discuss each of them and show you how to manage them.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein. These clots mainly occur in the leg, thigh or pelvis. Anyone is at risk of DVT during long distance air travel due to sitting in a confined space for a long period of time, but the risk is usually very small. Pregnant women are more prone to DVT due to hormonal changes and reduced blood flow (there are many other factors that can increase the risk of DVT such as the birth control pill, obesity, old age etc you can view a list and more info here).
While traveling especially on a long flight, being immobile further increases the chances of pregnant women developing DVT. It is a very dangerous, even fatal condition as the blood clot can easily move and disrupt the supply of blood to the lungs.
How Can You Reduce the Risk of DVT?
- Wear Compression Socks. These are special tight-fitting socks that gently squeeze the legs and improve the blood flow.
- Walk Around. Choose a seat next to the aisle so that you can easily move around. It will also be easier for you to access the restroom.
- Keep your body hydrated by taking water regularly. Avoid fizzy drinks or those with alcohol or caffeine.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes and comfortable shoes
- If due to other factors not related to the flight your doctor thinks you are highly prone to DVT, he/she may administer heparin injections to help in thinning your blood.
Some pregnant women are concerned about exposure to cosmic radiation while traveling. This radiation is as a result of thinner air at higher altitudes. Unless traveling frequently, this should not be a concern. Studies have shown that the amount of radiation in a single flight is very low and insignificant. You can view more info about comsic radiation here.
Pregnant women tend to be more prone to motion sickness. If you suspect you may fall ill, here are a few things that can help keep motion sickness at bay:
- Stay hydrated.
- Do not travel on an empty stomach but avoid greasy foods.
- Choose a seat over the plane’s wing where it will be less turbulent.
- Position the air vent towards your face
- Avoid reading
List of Things if Travelling While Pregnant
Here is a checklist of what you need to have in place if you are traveling while pregnant.
- Travel Insurance Documents
- Doctors Report indicating your due date, and health status. Where necessary, the doctor may need to clear you for the flight.
- Prenatal records
- Any medication/vitamins
- Confirm any vaccinations needed in your destination area and let your doctor advice.
- Snacks and water(if not provided in the flight)
- Contacts of reliable medical care in your destination area
In conclusion, traveling while pregnant is generally considered safe. With the precautionary measures we have discussed, you can confidently board that flight.
Do you have any other tips for flying while pregnant? Comment below!