Flying can be a daunting experience for anyone, but for pregnant women it can be especially nerve-wracking. Travel during pregnancy is something that many consider, especially before their first child. (hello babymoon!) Questions about whether or not it is safe to fly while pregnant are common, and often times expectant parents are given conflicting advice.
While there are some risks associated with flying while pregnant, these risks are generally low in a healthy pregnancy and can be mitigated with proper planning and precautions.
In this article, we will provide clear and concise information about traveling safely, flying and pregnancy so that you can make the best decision for yourself and your baby.
Can I fly while pregnant?
The short answer is yes, but there are some things to consider before booking your flight. Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to fly during pregnancy should be made on a case-by-case basis in consultation with your physician.
Things to consider before choosing to fly while pregnant
If you are thinking about flying while pregnant, there are a few things you should take into account:
- Your stage of pregnancy: Flying is generally considered safe during all stages of pregnancy, but flying at later stages of pregnancy might be more uncomfortable.
- Your health: If you have any medical conditions that could be exacerbated by flying (such as diabetes or high blood pressure), it is important to speak with your doctor before making any travel plans.
- Your destination: If you are planning to travel to a high risk country, such as one with an increased risk of Zika virus, it is important to consult with your physician and the CDC before making any travel plans. International travel can present logistical challenges too, especially those who might not be easily able to cater for pregnant travelers who need to seek medical care.
- The length of your flight: Longer flights can be more tiring, and can increase your risk of developing blood clots. If you are pregnant and flying, it is important to drink plenty of water and move around frequently to keep your blood circulating.
- Your airline’s restrictions: Most airlines have restrictions on flying during pregnancy, so it is important to check with your airline before booking your flight. They may require a letter from your doctor to authorise air travel after a certain number of weeks pregnancy.
- Your travel insurance: Many travel insurance policies have exclusions for pregnancy, so it is important to check your policy before you travel. You may need to take out a specific travel health insurance policy.
- Any pregnancy complications you have had: If you have had any complications during your pregnancy, it is important to speak with your doctor before making any travel plans, as you may have an increased need for emergency medical care. If you are carrying twins you may also have an increased risk.
Taking these factors into consideration will help you to make the best decision for you and your baby. If you are pregnant and considering flying, I’d encourage you to speak with your physician to get the most up-to-date and specific recommendations for you. They will be able to help you weigh the risks and benefits of flying during pregnancy and can assist you in making the best decision for your individual situation.
What to do before deciding to fly
Speak with your doctor
If you are thinking about flying during pregnancy, the first step is to speak with your physician about the health concerns for long distance travel. They can help you to understand the risks and benefits of flying during pregnancy and can offer specific recommendations for you based on your individual health and situation.
Check with your airline
Each airline has different restrictions for pregnant women, so it is important to check with your airline before booking your flight. They may have a restriction on how many weeks pregnant you can be, or they may require a letter from your physician.
Check your travel insurance policy
Many travel insurance policies have exclusions for pregnancy, so it is important to check your policy before you travel. You may need to take out a specific travel health insurance policy if you are pregnant.
Book specific seating
Look into booking a seat with extra legroom so that you can stretch out and stay comfortable during the flight. Bulkhead seats (that don’t have a row of seating in front of them) are generally winners for extra leg room. It is also a good idea to request an aisle seat so that you can easily get up and move around to stretch, or go to the bathroom.
How to prepare to fly while pregnant
Consider traveling with a medical kit
Before you go, talk to your doctor about whether you need a medical kit. Remember to bring this kit on board with you so that it may be used during the flight. Include things like Tylenol, ginger candies for nausea, oral rehydration solutions like pedialite, and a water bottle. Additional items like urine test sticks to check glucose levels might be important if you have gestational diabetes.
You want to be comfortable on the flight, so dress in loose clothing that won’t constrict you. Wear comfortable shoes that are easy to slip on and off so that you can take them off during the flight if your feet start to swell.
Bring copies of your relevant medical records
Make sure you have copies of your relevant medical records with you in case of an emergency. This can include things like a list of medications you are taking, your blood type, and your allergy information.
Bring your own food and bottled water
If your airline doesn’t serve food that you can eat, or if you are worried about the quality of the food, bring your own. Pregnant women need to be extra careful about what they eat and drink to avoid foodborne illness, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Check the requirements for the airports and the airline you choose to see what they allow through airport security and what you can carry on.
During the flight
Take steps to prevent blood clots
On long flights, there is an increased risk of developing blood clots (DVT). To help prevent this, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and get up and move around every half hour. Wear loose clothing and consider wearing compression support stockings.
Wear your seatbelt
Make sure to wear your seatbelt at all times during the flight, and adjust it as needed so that it is snug but not too tight.
Manage your discomfort
If you start to feel uncomfortable during the flight, try to do some simple stretches or walk around the cabin when possible. Drink lots of fluids. If you are feeling nauseous, try to eat small, frequent snacks. Try to avoid gassy foods or carbonated drinks that might affect you differently during air travel.
Keep talking to your flight attendant
If you have any concerns during the flight, make sure to keep talking to your flight attendant. They can offer assistance and can help to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible.
After the flight
Get up and move around
Once the plane has landed, get up and move around as soon as possible. This will help to prevent blood clots.
Drink lots of fluids
Drink plenty of water and other fluids to stay hydrated. This will help your body to recover from the flight.
Check in with your healthcare provider
If you have any concerns after your flight, don’t hesitate to contact your physician. They can help you determine if everything is okay or if you need to be seen for any further testing.
Can flying cause miscarriage?
There is no evidence that flying causes miscarriage. However, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with flying while pregnant and to take steps to minimize these risks. If you have any concerns, please talk to your physician before you travel.