Can You Fly When Pregnant?
As long as there are no identified complications or concerns with your pregnancy, it is generally safe to travel at all times during your pregnancy. The ideal time to travel during pregnancy is the second trimester. In most cases, you are past the morning sickness of the first trimester and several weeks from the third stage of pregnancy when you are more easily fatigued.
Traveling by air is considered safe for women while they are pregnant; however, the following ideas might make your trip safer and more comfortable.
- Most airlines allow pregnant women to travel through their eighth month. Traveling during the ninth month is usually allowed if there is permission from your health care provider.
- Most airlines have narrow aisles and smaller bathrooms, which makes it more challenging to walk and more uncomfortable when using the restroom. Because of potential turbulence that could shake the plane, make sure you are holding on to the seatbacks while navigating the aisle.
- You may want to choose an aisle seat which will allow you to get up more easily to reach the restroom or just to stretch your legs and back.
- Travel on major airlines with pressurized cabins and avoid smaller private planes. If you must ride in smaller planes, avoid altitudes above 7,000 feet.
- Although doubtful, the risk of DVT can be further reduced by wearing compression stockings.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the International Air Travel Association recommend that expecting mothers in an uncomplicated pregnancy avoid travel from the 37th week of pregnancy through birth.
Avoiding travel from 32 weeks through birth is recommended for women who have complicated pregnancies with risk factors for premature labor, such as mothers carrying multiples.
Risk factors that warrant travel considerations include the following:
- Severe anemia
- Cardiac disease
- Respiratory disease
- Recent hemorrhage
- Current or recent bone fractures
Traveling by Sea During Pregnancy
Traveling by sea is generally safe for women while they are pregnant; the motion of the boat may accentuate any morning sickness or make you feel nauseous all over again.
There are a few considerations to make your trip safer and more comfortable:
- Check with the cruise line to ensure that there is a health care provider on board in case there are any pregnancy complications.
- Review the route and port-of-calls to identify if there is access to any medical facilities if needed.
- Make sure any medications for seasickness are approved for women who are pregnant and that there is no risk to the developing baby.
- Seasickness bands use acupressure points to help prevent upset stomach and maybe a good alternative to medication.
International Travel During Pregnancy
Traveling overseas has the same considerations that local or domestic travel has, but it also has additional concerns that you need to know about before making an international trip.
The information below is provided to help you assess whether an international trip is good for you at this time:
- It is important to talk with your health care provider before you take a trip internationally to discuss safety factors for you and your baby.
- Discuss immunizations with your health care provider and carry a copy of your health records with you.
- With international travel, you may be exposed to a disease that is rare here in the United States but is common in the country you visit.
- Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (800) 311-3435 or visit their website at www.cdc.gov to receive safety information along with immunization facts related to your travels.
- Diarrhea is a common concern when traveling overseas because you may not be used to the germs and organisms found in the food and water of other countries. This can lead to a problem of dehydration.
Here are some tips to avoid diarrhea and help keep you safe:
- Drink plenty of bottled water
- Used canned juices or soft drinks as alternatives
- Make sure the milk is pasteurized
- Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables unless they have been cooked or can be peeled (such as an orange or a banana)
- Make certain that all meat and fish has been cooked completely; if you are unsure, do not eat it
Travel Tips During Pregnancy
Whether you are going by car, bus, or train, it is generally safe to travel while you are pregnant; however, there are some things to consider that could make your trip safer and more comfortable.
- It is essential to buckle-up every time you ride in a car. Make sure that you use both the lap and shoulder belts for the best protection of you and your baby.
- Keep the airbags turned on. The safety benefits of the airbag outweigh any potential risk to you and your baby.
- Buses tend to have narrow aisles and small restrooms. This mode of transportation can be more challenging. The safest thing is to remain seated while the bus is moving. If you must use the restroom, make sure to hold on to the rail or seats to keep your balance.
- Trains usually have more room to navigate and walk. The restrooms are usually small. It is essential to hold on to rails or seat backs while the train is moving.
- Try to limit the amount of time you are cooped up in the car, bus, or train. Keep travel time around five to six hours.
- Use rest stops to take short walks and to do stretches to keep the blood circulating.
- Dress comfortably in loose cotton clothing and wear comfortable shoes.
- Take your favorite pillow.
- Plan for plenty of rest stops, restroom breaks and stretches.
- Carry snack foods with you.
- If you are traveling any distance, make sure to carry a copy of your prenatal records.
- Enjoy the trip.
Another helpful article:
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 5.
William’s Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 8.
2. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Air Travel and Pregnancy (Scientific Impact Paper No. 1), https://www.rcog.org/uk, May 22, 2013.