Each airline company has their own restrictions for pregnant women in regards to flying, where even these may vary according to whether you are flying domestically or internationally. Some airlines won’t allow you to travel for 30 days before your due date, while others won’t let you on board if your due date is less than seven days away. If you are pregnant, make it a point to mention it to your ticketing agent so you may clear the air regarding all restrictions since they have no call to mention it otherwise. Once everything is in the clear, it’s time to pack your bags and enjoy one more vacation before baby comes along!
Before you take to the air..
Women who have complications in their pregnancies or who are considered to be ‘high risk’ should not travel. This includes women with poorly controlled diabetes, sickle cell disease, placental abnormalities, hypertension or those at risk for premature labor.
Whichever stage of pregnancy you are in, it’s always a good idea to discuss your travel plans with your doctor before embarking in a journey by flight. It may also be a good idea to obtain a doctor’s note saying that it is alright for you to travel, especially if you are in your third trimester. Not every airline requires a doctor’s note to let you on the plane, but sometimes it’s easier to take the extra precaution in order to avoid any possible hold-backs when you’re trying to board. Equally as important, don’t forget to consider how close your due date will be when you come back.
Flying in the early stages of pregnancy
Travelling by air during your first trimester of pregnancy is generally considered quite safe. The main concern over flying during this period is if it will make your pregnancy symptoms, like morning sickness and nausea, worse. (You may want to make sure you have extra sick bags nearby, just in case.) Keep in mind too, that a mildly blocked nose on the ground could become much worse once you’re in the air.
Paying attention to circulation
Pregnancy can cause circulation problems in women. This is one issue you cannot afford to ignore if you’re pregnant and intend to travel by air. It is a well-known fact that circulation problems increases the chances of developing a blood clot. Here are some useful tips to help keep your blood flowing:
- Wear comfortable, loose clothing
- Invest in some compression stockings; these will help keep the blood moving from your ankles to your heart and lungs
- Avoid crossing your legs
- Drink lots of water to keep yourself hydrated
The easiest thing you can do to keep your blood flowing is to move around. Go for a walk in the aisle every now and then. Make it a point to flex your feet, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes often during the duration of your flight. These are simple little stretches you can do right in your seat without bothering anyone on the flight. If you are fortunate enough to have an empty seat next to you, then by all means take advantage of that extra space and put your feet up!
Take your seat, please!
As a pregnant belly grows bigger, comfort levels inevitably lowers. Most airline seats are unfortunately, not known to be the most comfortable. Upon checking in, don’t hesitate to ask for a more spacious seat if it is available. Aisle seats usually have the most space while it is a known fact that the area in the middle of the plane usually provides the smoothest ride. Emergency row seats are also known for providing extra leg space.
Be prepared for the unlikely
Flying during your third trimester is not advisable but if absolutely necessary it would still be safe as long as your due date is not too close. However do be prepared for the possibility of going into premature labor. Double check that your health insurance is up-to-date and that your delivery will be covered in case your baby decides to make an appearance in the plane. You should also ask your doctor or midwife for a medical contact in your destination and carry a copy of your medical records with you.
In the event that you find yourself experiencing contractions while en route, do notify the cabin crew immediately! Take heart that you will certainly not be the first woman to have ever delivered a baby high above the ground. While the crew is likely trained for such an emergency, your flight will probably make an emergency landing at the closest airport so that you can get the medical attention you need.
Cabin pressure is known to be of some concern for pregnant women. Today’s commercial flights have pressured cabins that are set to the equivalent of 5,000 to 8,000 feet. If you come from a low altitude area, the change in air is obviously going to affect you. Your heart rate and blood pressure will increase to help your body with its oxygen intake and this might leave you feeling uncomfortable and even queasy.
For most pregnant women, this is not a major problem. However, if you have any sort of cardiovascular health issues, it is strongly recommended that you avoid flying.
The best time
The second trimester is commonly known as the most comfortable stage of pregnancy. Morning sicknesses are usually no longer a problem, risks of miscarriages are significantly lowered and there is the least chance of going into preterm labor at this point. It’s probably why many pregnant travel buffs take advantage of this newfound comfort and take to the skies.
Walk right through
One of the most-asked questions by pregnant women is whether or not it is safe to walk through the airport metal detectors. The answer is, yes, it is absolutely safe! These machines are not x-ray machines and will cause absolutely no harm to you or your baby, so there is no cause to put up a fuss and hold up the queue at the airport security check-point!