Flying While Pregnant, Is it Safe ?

Before reading keep in mind that every pregnant may have unique needs and the best way is to consult with the health care provider before an air travel during pregnancy.

Today, almost no planes cause any problem for pregnant passengers since they are cabin pressure adjusted.

However, it is stated that some small aircraft may cause problems related to the reduction of oxygen at high altitude if there is no pressure setting.

According to the common opinion, air travel is safe until the 36th/37th gestational week or 32nd week if you’re pregnant with twins or more babies. And it can be accepted by airline companies in cases where there are no high risk factors such as bleeding, diabetes, high blood pressure, multiple pregnancy or preterm birth history. That means it is ok if you have a healthy pregnancy.

However, after the 36th/37th gestational week (32nd week if you’re pregnant with twins or more babies), many airlines do not accept pregnant women onboard their aircraft. The reason for this is not the risks that may arise in terms of mother or baby, but in case of a possible birth, the airline does not want to take risks due to a birth in the air.

Airline ticket sellers will not ask you if you are pregnant or your expected date of birth at the time of booking, but you may encounter an unpleasant surprise when you head to the door to board the plane.

In order not to have any problems during boarding the plane or even to miss the flight, it will be appropriate to get a report from your doctor that “there is no obstacle on your flight,” and carry it with you during all your flights. It is especially useful if you are in the final stages of your pregnancy. The report that you have been examined and that “there is no evidence that birth can begin within 72 hours.”

What can be done during flight?

– Sitting anywhere for a long time affects blood circulation in your legs and can cause swelling in the feet and ankles. For this reason, you should stand up every 1.5-2 hours and walk in the corridor and revive your blood circulation. You can also make stretching exercises for your legs during these short walks. You can also reduce the negative effects of long-term sitting by doing some stretching movements. Stretch your legs well forward in the sitting position. Stretch your calf muscles by gently pulling your foot towards you with your heels centered. Then turn your ankles to and from, and open and close your fingers.

– In pregnancy period, sitting immobile in an uncomfortable position for long periods during plane travel increases the risk of “thrombosis (intravascular clot)” and varicose veins. Wearing special heir socks during the flight supports blood circulation in your legs and prevents swelling of the veins.

– “Dehydration”, that is, the body being dehydrated, is very harmful for pregnancy. Take care to drink plenty of fluids, especially during summer days.

– If the seat next to you is empty, or if you can find two empty seats side by side in the airplane, you can sit up and lift your feet. Or if you have a chance to book business class it will surely increase your comfort.

– Avoid foods and drinks which may cause stomach problems both in preflight and flight period. Entrapped gases expand at altitude, which can cause discomfort. Examples include broccoli and carbonated drinks.

– Cabin pressure on the plane can also cause swelling in your feet. You can feel better by taking off your shoes. Although it is not comfortable and healthy while walking, wearing slippers or comfortable shoes will help you relax during the flight.

– One of the frequently asked question is whether the security doors and detectors passed when entering the airport is dangerous for the baby. Ask to the security personnel on that issue and indicate your pregnancy.

– In pregnancy period, you can get bored faster during the journey. Avoid air travel unless you have to, especially in the late stages of your pregnancy.

– It is useful to research and know the health conditions and health services provided in the destination you travel to especially on international flights.

– Airline companies may have different requirements for pregnant passengers, search for their policies from their websites or ask to customer relations staff.

Finally, there is no doubt that one of the most special period in lifetime is pregnancy. It is a milestone and sanitation and other related measurements must be taken at utmost level for both mother and baby/babies.


Source: mayoclinic.org, nhs.uk