Flying During Pregnancy

January 25, 2012

Gone are the days when flying was something a pregnant woman just didn't do. As time has gone on, restrictions by both airlines and doctors have relaxed appreciably and, as long as you're healthy and your pregnancy is going along okay, there are few restrictions for pregnant women when it comes to being able to fly. Many doctors say that up to 36 weeks is fine, and stewardesses are now able to work up to the last minute if they so desire. Flying is perfectly safe for much of the third trimester.

When Flying While Pregnant Isn't Recommended

However, you do want to discuss your flight plans with your healthcare provider before you book your flight. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, your healthcare provider may suggest that you forego the flight until after the baby is born to avoid any complications that could possibly arise. Some situations in which it may be smart to rebook your flights for later are:

· if you are carrying twins or multiples

· if you have diabetes or high blood pressure

· if you have placenta abnormalities (placenta previa) or vaginal bleeding

· if you are being observed for possible preterm labor

· if you have a history of blood clots at any point prior to or during your pregnancy

Despite the fact you are healthy and your pregnancy is ticking along just fine, it is still suggested that you not fly after 36 weeks to avoid possibly going into labor. Many airlines have rules about how late in a pregnancy you can fly - check out the particular airline's policies online before you book, and don't forget to count where you'll be in your pregnancy at the time of your return flight. Many women decide not to fly because they don't want to have their babies in the air or in a strange hospital somewhere without their families present. But, it really is your choice. You may need a note from your doctor to show the airline staff at the gate with your due date on it.

Do Your Have Your Contact and Medical Information for Your Midwife and ObGYN?

If you are flying late in your pregnancy be sure to have your doctor give you some contact names for a midwife and doctor in the city to which you are traveling. In the event you need medical care, it's wise to have your emergency contact numbers handy as well as a copy of your medical records. Your doctor can give you a copy of your prenatal chart that will have all of the pertinent information necessary, including your age, due date, last menstrual period, number and outcomes of prior pregnancies, risk factors for disease, pregnancy-related lab tests and ultrasounds, medical and surgical history, and a flow sheet of vital signs taken at each visit. You just never know and it's better to be prepared and not need the information than the other way around.

X-Rays and Pregnancy

When you arrive at the airport you will have to go through security screening. Most airports have walk-through metal detectors that use a low-frequency electromagnetic field (EMF) to look for weapons. Since the level of EMF is low in the metal detectors as well as the wands that are used, the exposure is considered to be safe. However, there are two new types of scanners that are being used in the US both of which create an image of the surface of your body in order to detect hidden objects. One uses low-level x-rays, it's called the "backscatter" machine, and it has raised some health concerns. The TSA says it's safe, but if you're not comfortable going through it, you can opt for a physical pat-down instead. Check out the TSA website before flying.

Where To Sit When Pregnant

When you book your seat, be sure to choose one that is in the middle of the plane, over the wing where the flight is smoother - and pick an aisle seat so you can get up and down frequently. Sitting for long periods of time is not good for a pregnant woman. Legs and feet will swell. Here are some other tips for a comfortable flight:

· Go to the bathroom before you board the plane and at the last minute before you have to remain seated for landing. You don't know how long you're going to have to sit on the tarmac and a full bladder isn't fun when you can't do anything about it.

· Stay well hydrated throughout the flight. Drink a liter of water for every couple of hours you're in the air and avoid caffeine because it acts like a diuretic.

· Choose an aisle seat and get up and walk every 30 minutes in order to keep your circulation going and to avoid the possibility of blood clots.

· Wear comfortable clothing that make going to the bathroom easy. The less fuss the better when you're flying.

· Bring some slippers or socks so you can take your shoes off while in the air. Your feet will swell so make sure the shoes you're wearing will be suitable. Crocs are great to travel in, so are sandals with adjustable straps.

· Maternity support stockings will help keep swelling and aching in your legs down if you're prone to varicose veins. Try to get your feet up off the floor, if possible. (If the seat beside you is empty - use it)

· Keep your seatbelt buckled under your belly and have a nice flight!

By taking the proper precautions, you can fly well into your third trimester.

Check Us Out

Pregnancy is not a disease and, as long as you're healthy you can do many of the things you would normally do when you're not pregnant. Learn more about what you can expect during pregnancy on this site.

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