Air Travel When Pregnant

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Pregnancy makes some women think twice before taking to the skies. Whether you travel for business or pleasure, there are several considerations before you purchase a plane ticket during pregnancy. An emphasis on safety for you and your baby should guide any decision to travel by air while you are pregnant.


Risks

Any travel away from home leaves you away from your primary care provider should a pregnancy-related complication occur. Commercial airlines are generally considered safe, especially if you haven’t experienced any complications in your pregnancy. The varying air pressure in the cabin lowers your oxygen. A healthy pregnancy shouldn’t be affected by this, but if you have existing complications, the flight could make them worse. Later in the pregnancy, going into labor in the air is a potential concern.

Guidelines

Each airline sets its own policy about flying while pregnant. Flying up to the eighth month is generally the guideline for most airlines. For travel after the eighth month, you might need a note from your doctor giving permission to fly. A pressurized cabin like you find in larger commercial flights is a better option than a smaller private plane.

Location

Aisle seats give you more freedom to move around as needed during the flight. Walking the aisle can help your circulation, especially on a longer flight. You might also need to use the restroom frequently, so the aisle seat helps you avoid climbing over your fellow passengers to relieve yourself. The emergency exit rows offer extra legroom, but you probably won’t meet the requirements while pregnant. You need to be able to handle the heavy emergency exit door and help other passengers get out of the plane. Choose a different seat while pregnant.

Flight Safety

Turbulence presents a risk if you are out of your seat a lot during the flight. Stabilize yourself with the seat backs as you navigate the aisles. Keeping your lap belt buckled while seated keeps you safer. The belt should go under your belly to prevent injury to your baby. Increased fluid intake helps avoid dehydration in the low-humidity plane.

Considerations

The middle section of your pregnancy is typically the safest time to travel by plane. A call to your doctor’s office helps evaluate your risk of flying while pregnant. Your doctor might offer additional advice or warnings before you book your flight. If you are near the end of your pregnancy, even if you haven’t had complications, consider if the flight is completely necessary.

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