Flying and Pregnancy: Do’s and Don’ts

There used to be a time when women wouldn’t leave the house while pregnant, much less board a plane. Times have changed and women now fly anywhere while in all stages of their pregnancy.

While there is generally no health risk to either the mother or fetus when flying during a healthy pregnancy, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when flying while pregnant:

Do’s

Do wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Your clothing should not constrict you or the baby. Also, leave the high heels at home. There are many retailers that offer comfortable, yet fashionable, clothes and shoes for expectant mothers.

Do wear your seat belt. Your seat belt should be snug and fastened under your abdomen and above your thighs.

Do take an aisle seat. You will have more room and greater ease of exit if you select an aisle seat.

Do check with your doctor. Some health care providers will restrict air travel if you are over 36 weeks pregnant or at risk for preterm delivery.

Do check with the airline. Some airlines may have their own restrictions on air travel for pregnant women, especially for long flights or certain destinations, or they may provide certain guidelines. Some airlines may even reserve more convenient or roomier seating for you.

Do get up. To reduce the risk of blood clots, get up often and walk down the aisles. If you must be seated, move and flex your feet to promote circulation.

Do stay hydrated. Reduced humidity in the air cabin could make you nauseous and disorientated. To help prevent these problems, be sure to drink plenty of fluids both before and during the flight.

Don’ts

Don’t travel if you’re sick. If you’re suffering from morning sickness, delay or cancel your flight. The effect of morning sickness, coupled with the vertigo and low cabin pressure experienced during the flight, may result in a very nasty flight, not only for you, but for the passengers sitting next to you.

Don’t travel if you have a high-risk pregnancy. Air travel may increase the danger of pregnancy complications if you are already carrying a high-risk pregnancy. Conditions such as sickle cell anemia, a blood clotting disorder, or a placental deficiency can result in pregnancy complications or even preterm delivery while in flight.

Don’t assume you’ll have room. Airlines are constantly making cost-cutting measures, and this includes reducing leg and total body room for the passenger. If you aren’t sure how much room you’ll have on an airline, consider upgrading your seat to business or first class, especially for a long flight.

Don’t assume that frequent flying is OK. Pregnant women who are infrequent passengers on a plane should not experience issues with high altitude radiation exposure. However, if you are a pilot, flight attendant, or a frequent flyer, you may wish to discuss this fact with your doctor. Your total hours in flight may need to be reduced to minimize the risk of radiation exposure to your baby.

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