is Air travel Safe during pregnancy?


                    Is Air travel safe during pregnancy period?

Travel during pregnancy Ichhori_Webp

Usually, commercially travelling by air before 36 weeks of pregnancy is considered safe only if your pregnancy is going well and healthy. Still, it is better to check with your health care provider before you fly. If you're experiencing pregnancy complications your health care provider might advise you against air travel. Your pregnancy complications might be worsened by air travel or require emergency medical care. During air travel, the duration of the flight should be taken into consideration. And, like your health care provider and many airlines might restrict travel after 36 weeks of pregnancy.

The best time to fly might be during your second trimester if your health care provider approves air travel and you have flexible plans. During the second trimester, the risks of common pregnancy emergencies are the lowest.

What do you need to do before air travel?

  • Discuss with your doctor any potential risks particular to your pregnancy. Risks like when a woman has gestational diabetes or multiple pregnancies are generally advised not to fly.
  • You should have knowledge that if you travel by air in the last six weeks of pregnancy it could induce labour resulting in premature labour.
  • Be sure to check with the airline as some airlines won't allow a woman who is over 35 weeks to fly at all. If they really want to, they require a doctor’s note.
  • Check your travel insurance thoroughly as some policies may not cover pregnancy.
  • You should arrange for a bulkhead seat or a seat near an exit that has extra legroom with the airlines.
  • Also, if possible, book an aisle seat as going to the toilet will be a little easier.

Before you leave for your travels, talk with your doctor about whether you need to travel with a medical kit. But regardless of what your doctor might say remember to pack a kit in your carry-on luggage so you can have access to it during the flight.

Items of your medical kit could contain:

  • Ointments and medicines to treat common pregnancy complaints like heartburn, thrush, constipation and haemorrhoids
  • Prepare for oral rehydration in case of diarrhoea
  • Multivitamins specially made for pregnant women
  • Urine dipsticks to check on the glucose levels and use them only when it is required.

What to do when you do fly?

·        Check the airline's policy for pregnant women: There are differing guidelines by different airlines for pregnant women and destinations so be sure to check the airline’s policy.

·        Buckle up. When you are travelling, be sure to fasten the lap belt under your abdomen or bump and across your lap.

·        Promote circulation. It is important to keep blood flowing so take occasional walks up and down the aisle. If you are seated, flex and extend your ankles periodically and also keep stretching and moving your legs. You should wear loose clothing and should avoid wearing tightfitting clothing. Also, consider wearing support and compressed stockings for the duration of the flight. Good circulation is important during air travel because a pregnant woman's circulation is already under strain due to the lower cabin pressure inside a plane. Lower cabin pressure can theoretically increase the risk of blood clots.

·        Drink plenty of fluids. With the low humidity in the cabin, dehydration can occur. So, make sure to drink plenty of water to reduce the risk of dehydration. And, keeping up your fluid intake in the plane will also reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

·        Avoid the intake of gassy foods and drinks preflight. If you eat food and drink stuff that is gassy then it can cause some discomfort as entrapped gases expand at altitude. Examples of such foods include broccoli and carbonated drinks.

·        If the flight is without any turbulence, try to walk up and down the aisles every half hour.

·        If the flight is turbulent, stay in your seat and flex and stretch your ankles and legs frequently.

·        If you are feeling claustrophobic, have shortness of breath or are light-headed, ask one of the flight attendants for help and give you breathing oxygen.

·        Make a plan B. Plan how you’ll obtain obstetric care during your trip if you ever need one.

If you are a frequent flyer like your work requires you to travel frequently, or you are a pilot or a flight attendant you might be exposed to a level of cosmic radiation that is not good during pregnancy. Otherwise, radiation exposure associated with air travel isn't thought to be problematic for most who fly sometimes during pregnancy. But if fly frequently during your pregnancy, discuss it with your health care provider. The doctor might recommend limiting your total flight time during pregnancy.

Travelling in pregnancy

Most women can travel safely well into their pregnancy if they take proper precautions, and have information on when to travel, the vaccinations required and travel insurance. Wherever you travel be sure to find out what healthcare facilities are there at your destination. You might need this information in case you need urgent medical attention. Always travel with your maternity medical records (handheld notes) so you can give doctors the relevant information if necessary.

If you are travelling abroad be sure to find out more about the healthcare system abroad. Also make sure your travel insurance covers any eventuality like pregnancy medical care during labour, premature birth and the charge of changing the date of your return trip if you go into labour while travelling.

When to travel in pregnancy?

Some women prefer not to travel in the first trimester of pregnancy because of nausea and vomiting and having fatigue and less energy. If you travel by air the risk of miscarriage is higher in the first 3 months. But it is true, regardless of whether you're travelling or not.

Travelling in the final months or the last trimester of pregnancy can be tiring and uncomfortable. This leaves the second trimester to travel which is preferred by some women. According to them the best time to travel or go on vacation is in mid-pregnancy i.e., between 4 and 6 months. Sarah Reynolds is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Bedford Hospital NHS Trust and she says that the travel during pregnancy is a matter of concern for many women. But if your pregnancy is going without any complications then there's no reason for you to travel safely, as long as you take precautions.


Flying in general isn't harmful to you or your baby. But it is better to discuss with your doctor any health issues or pregnancy complications you might have. The chances of going into labour are higher after 37 weeks and around 32 weeks if you're pregnant with twins. For this reason, some airlines won't let you fly in the last trimester of your pregnancy. So, be sure to check with the airline for their policy on this.

After 28 weeks of pregnancy, the airline might ask for a letter from your doctor to confirm your due date, and which states that there aren't any risks or complications. If you are travelling long-distance which is longer than 4 hours then you may be at a small risk of blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT)). Whenever you fly you should drink plenty of water and move about regularly every 30 minutes or so. You can also buy a pair of compressed or support stockings from the pharmacy, which will help in reducing the swelling of the leg.


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