A guide to flying safely while pregnant

A guide to flying safely while pregnant
PHOTO: Unsplash

Discover the truth about flying while pregnant and learn how to ensure a safe and comfortable flight for you and your baby.

Here’s what you need to know about flying during pregnancy.

Flying during pregnancy

Pregnancy is an incredible and transformative journey for women. From the moment you find out you’re expecting, life becomes a whirlwind of excitement, anticipation and, let’s be honest, a little bit of worry.

One common concern that many expectant mothers have is whether it is safe to fly during pregnancy. After all, travelling by plane involves a change in altitude, pressurised cabins and potential exposure to various environmental factors. So, let’s address the burning question: is it safe to fly during pregnancy?

Is air travel safe for pregnant women?

The short answer is yes. For most women, flying during pregnancy is considered safe. However, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider before making any travel plans, as individual circumstances can vary. Here are some key points to consider:

In general, women with healthy, low-risk pregnancies can safely travel by plane. Commercial airlines do not have specific restrictions on pregnant passengers and many airlines allow pregnant women to fly up until their 36th week. However, some airlines may have their own policies, so it’s wise to check with the specific carrier before booking your ticket.

Up till when can pregnant women board a plane?

While many airlines allow pregnant women to travel up until the 36th week, it’s crucial to note that each pregnancy is unique, and factors such as previous complications, multiple pregnancies and overall health should be taken into account.

Additionally, some airlines may require a medical certificate stating that you’re fit to fly if you’re in your third trimester. It’s always best to confirm the airline’s policies and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider.

Exploring the potential risks and safety precautions for mums-to-be

Flying during pregnancy is generally safe but it’s important to be aware of potential risks. So, before you plan your babymoon in a different country, here’s everything you need to know to keep your baby safe and healthy while you’re up in the air.

Risk of blood clots

Sitting for extended periods during a flight can increase the risk of blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). To minimise this risk:

  • Take regular breaks: Get up and walk around the cabin every hour or so to promote circulation.
  • Perform simple leg exercises: Rotate your ankles, flex and extend your feet, and do calf stretches while seated.
  • Wear compression stockings: These specialised stockings improve blood flow and reduce the risk of blood clots.

Radiation exposure at high altitudes

Exposure to radiation is a concern for frequent flyers or those embarking on long-haul flights. However, it’s essential to note that the level of radiation exposure during a single flight is considered minimal and unlikely to harm you or your baby.

Nonetheless, it may be prudent to discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider to assess your personal radiation exposure. They can provide guidance based on your specific circumstances.

Dehydration and dry cabin air

Aeroplane cabins are known for their low humidity levels, which can lead to dehydration and dry skin. These conditions may be uncomfortable for pregnant women. To stay hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water: Aim to drink water regularly throughout the flight to maintain hydration.
  • Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol: These substances can contribute to dehydration so it’s best to limit their consumption during the flight.
  • Moisturise: Apply a moisturiser to your skin before and during the flight to help combat dryness.

Changes in cabin pressure

Flying involves changes in cabin pressure, which can cause discomfort, particularly during takeoff and landing. To alleviate the pressure changes:

  • Chew gum or suck on candy: These actions encourage swallowing, which helps equalise pressure in the ears.
  • Yawn or swallow: If you’re unable to chew gum or suck on candy, yawning or swallowing can also assist in equalising pressure.
  • Use earplugs: Some pregnant women find that wearing earplugs during takeoff and landing helps alleviate discomfort.

Stress and fatigue

Travelling, especially long journeys, can be stressful and tiring for anyone, and pregnancy can amplify these feelings. To manage stress and fatigue:

  • Plan ahead: Make sure to organise your travel arrangements well in advance to minimise last-minute stress.
  • Take frequent breaks: Give yourself time to rest and relax during your journey, especially during long layovers or connecting flights.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to your energy levels and take breaks as needed. Don’t hesitate to ask for assistance from airline staff when necessary.

Remember, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before making any travel plans. They can provide personalised advice based on your specific health condition and pregnancy status. By being aware of the potential risks and taking appropriate precautions, you can make informed decisions and ensure a safe and comfortable journey.

What’s the best seat on the plane for a pregnant woman?

When it comes to choosing the best seat for a pregnant woman on a plane, opting for an aisle seat is often recommended.

The aisle seat provides easier access to the restroom and allows you to stretch your legs and move around more freely during the flight. Additionally, it reduces the chances of being accidentally bumped by other passengers or the food cart in the narrow aisle.

However, it’s important to note that seat preferences may vary depending on personal comfort and individual needs. It’s always a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider and the specific airline for any additional recommendations or considerations.

ALSO READ: Going on a babymoon? Here are a few things to keep in mind

Flying during pregnancy: When to seek help

Although flying during pregnancy is generally safe, certain situations may require immediate medical attention. If you experience any of the following symptoms during a flight, it’s important to seek assistance from the flight crew:

  • Vaginal bleeding or fluid leakage
  • Severe abdominal pain or cramping 
  • Sudden swelling of the hands, face or feet
  • Persistent headaches or visual disturbances
  • Signs of preterm labour, such as regular contractions or pelvic pressure

Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and seek medical help if you have any concerns or symptoms that worry you.

In conclusion, flying during pregnancy is considered safe for most women with low-risk pregnancies. However, it’s crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before making any travel plans.

Be aware of individual airline policies, take necessary precautions and seek medical help if you experience any concerning symptoms during a flight. With proper planning and care, you can enjoy your travels while keeping you and your baby safe.

This article was first published in theAsianparent.

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