If you are pregnant, you no doubt find yourself asking: Is it safe to… (exercise, take a hot bath, eat processed cheese, etc.)? One common concern during pregnancy involves flying. Is it safe to travel by plane when you’re pregnant?
The answer, like most answers for expectant women is: It depends. While it is generally safe to fly when you’re pregnant, even into the third trimester, the further along you are in your pregnancy, the more concerns and more precautions you must take.
Furthermore, what is considered safe for one expecting mother may not be advisable for anther since medical history plays a big part in the decision as well.
The good news is that if you are cleared by your doctor (and the airline) to fly, there are many steps you can take to ensure that your flight is comfortable and safe for you and your baby.
Flying During Your First and Second Trimesters
Generally speaking, it is safe to fly during the first and second trimesters, provided you have not had any medical problems during your pregnancy. In fact, some say that the second trimester – 14-27 weeks into a pregnancy – is the most enjoyable time to fly. By this point your morning sickness should be over and your energy levels improved. If you are expecting your first child, this may also be the last time in a while when you get to travel alone with your spouse and without having to lug around a heavy diaper bag, car seat, snacks, or toys.
However, if you have experienced any of the following concerns, be sure to consult with your doctor before flying, regardless of which trimester you are in:
- Previous miscarriage
- Previous early birth
- High blood pressure
Flying During Your Third Trimester
If you are healthy and have not experienced medical difficulties, most airlines will allow you to fly until your 36th week (32cd week for women carrying twins). Keep in mind that these dates refer to the RETURN trip so check carefully before you book a flight. Once you hit 27 weeks of pregnancy, some airlines require a doctor’s note before they will let you fly, confirming your due date and that you are safe and unlikely to go into labor mid-flight. For the exact rules and regulations, contact your airline or travel agent
Can Flying Harm My Unborn Baby?
In a nutshell: No. There is no evidence that flying can affect the health of your child. Similarly, while your luggage may be X-Rayed, there is no evidence that airline security scanners or metal detectors can harm your pregnancy or baby. Having said that, keep in mind that oxygen levels become thinner at higher altitudes, so be sure to fly in a large aircraft which has cabin pressure.
How to Fly Comfortably When Pregnant
Here are some great tips on how to make the most out of your flight when you are expecting:
- Let the airline staff know that you are pregnant; they might be able to bump you to business/first class, where you’ll enjoy the extra seating space and pampering
- Request an aisle seat, allowing you to more easily make trips to the bathroom and get up to stretch your legs
- Wear your seatbelt under your baby bump and across your pelvis
- Drink plenty of juices or bottled water, as flying can dehydrate you; avoid tea and coffee which can dehydrate you
- Wear comfortable shoes and loose-fitting clothing
- To help with your circulation and decrease the risk of thrombosis or varicose veins, consider wearing compression stockings during the flight
- To keep your blood circulating and to prevent cramped legs and swollen feet and ankles, take regular strolls in the aisle and do some basic stretchingIf you see any sign of leg swelling, redness, or tenderness, ask for an extra seat to put your feet up and/or seek medical attention
Einat Mazafi is the owner of NY International Shipping, an International Shipping and moving company based in New York. She is also a specialist in providing the best relocation solutions to clients worldwide.