Air travel and pregnancy
If you re looking to book a vacation to relax during your pregnancy, you re in luck: air travel is generally considered safe for pregnant women. As long as there are no complications with the pregnancy and the expecting woman is not flying too close to her due date, flying should present few issues. However, traveling while pregnant does come with a few warnings, such as an increased risk of blood clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT ) – especially during long flights. To ensure safe and comfortable air travel for both the baby and mommy-to-be, follow these tips from the Cheapflights team.
Follow these tips for a safe and comfortable flight while pregnant (Image: mliu92 ) used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
Quick tips for healthy air travel while pregnant
- Travel with at least one companion who also has your emergency contact information. Before you take off, make sure your doctor’s number is programmed into his or her phone.
- Carry documentation with your expected date of delivery, doctor’s contact info, and your blood type.
- Stay hydrated. Dehydration is always a risk when flying, especially for expectant mothers. Be sure to drink plenty of caffeine-free, non-alcoholic fluids before, during, and after the flight.
- Wear your seatbelt continuously to minimize risk of injury from unpredictable turbulence.
- Pack vitamin-rich fresh fruit to snack on during your flight. Grapes, plums, oranges and dried apricots are travel-friendly choices for pregnant women.
- Wear support hose and comfortable, non-restrictive shoes with adjustable straps in case your feet swell.
- As always with flying, get up and walk around the cabin every two hours or so.
- Request an aisle seat to make it easier to get up for walks or bathroom trips.
- Take an eye mask and ear plugs and wear loose, comfortable clothing.
- Rest as much as possible while in the air.
When is the best time to fly?
According to the American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists, air travel is safest for pregnant women during the second trimester – weeks 18 to 24. If you are considering a flight during your pregnancy, always check with both your doctor and the airline before you book your flight.
General consensus in the medical community suggests it is best not to travel pregnant before 12 weeks due to morning sickness and the potentially increased risk of miscarriage. Though many pregnant women have no trouble flying in their first trimester, it is always better to err on the safe side and consult with your physician.
After 28 weeks, when the risk of going into labor increases, most airlines will require a letter from your doctor stating that you are fit for air travel while pregnant and confirming your estimated due date. If you are more than 36 weeks pregnant, many airlines will not let you fly due to the increased risk of delivering on board.
A frequent concern among pregnant fliers is the exposure to naturally occurring cosmic radiation during a flight. However, the risks to both the passenger and her fetus are considered negligible, as the radiation exposure of even the longest flight is around 15 percent of the recommended exposure limit of one millisievert per year. The Federal Aviation Administration has an online calculator you can use to determine radiation exposure received for particular flights.
It’s also recommended that you maintain up-to-date immunizations, in case the need to travel coincides with pregnancy. For travel to destinations requiring vaccinations, it’s advised that you consult your physician.
Each airline has its own rules for flying while pregnant
If you’re booking your flights with an agent, let them know that you’re pregnant when you book your flight and ask that they check that you are permitted to fly. If booking your flights online, be sure to check the airline’s website. It is worth calling ahead to alert the airline about your pregnancy, too: not only can you confirm that you ll be able to fly, but you can also ensure that you get special service to keep you comfortable during your travels. It’s also recommended that you avoid smaller planes that fly below 7,000 feet, and choose larger planes with pressurized cabins.
Make yourself comfortable
Especially during pregnancy, reserving the right seat on the airplane can make a difference. You will need to be able to get up and move around the plane.
Try to reserve a spacious seat when you make your booking. Many airlines’ websites have information about the varying legroom on each of their seats. If you plan to travel pregnant, it s worth spending a few extra bucks to get a bit more room. Be aware, though, that traditional “extra legroom” seats, such as those on the exit aisles, are often not permitted to those who are pregnant.
If you can’t reserve ahead, arrive at the airport early and ask for a bulkhead seat. The bulkhead is the partition between business class and economy, for example.
It’s also useful to reserve an aisle seat if you can, especially if you’re traveling long-distance. This will save you from having to squeeze past other passengers every time you want to get out of your seat.
Don’t be shy. When booking or checking in, explain that you’re pregnant and ask if there is any possibility of being upgraded, or having a seat with a couple of open seats next to you.
Flight insurance considerations
Pregnant women can be seen as relatively high-risk, and many insurers will not provide air travel coverage if you have less than eight weeks to go before your due date. You could still claim losses unrelated to your pregnancy, but you might not be covered if you have to cancel your trip due to your pregnancy. To ensure peace of mind on flights while pregnant, look into air travel insurance.
Tips for your vacation
Once the flight’s over, it’s time to enjoy your vacation! Whether you re traveling to see family, treating yourself to a babymoon or traveling on business, here are just a few more things to consider:
- Skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, so wear stronger sunscreen than usual.
- Keep a list of names and numbers to be contacted in case of emergency.
- Keep a list of local hospitals from the embassy or tourist board.
- Ask your doctor before embarking on any potentially risky activities, such as diving or water sports.
- Bring your medical notes, including relevant ultrasounds, with you in case you need to go into a hospital or deliver early.
- You’re on the ground! Relax and enjoy yourself on what could be your last diaper-free break for a while.
Don t forget to relax! (Image: Schwangerschaft ) used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)
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Air, and, pregnancy:, Travel
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