Risks and Tips for Flying During Pregnancy
November 10, 2019
The holiday season is a notoriously busy time for traveling, particularly by air. For expecting mothers, flying can bring anxiety and possible complications. Today’s post will offer a simple overview of how flying can affect pregnancy and provide tips for being mindful of your and your baby’s health while traveling by plane.
Risks of Flying While Pregnant
Generally, occasional air travel is safe for pregnant women, as long as there is not an existing medical or obstetric complication.1 According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women can fly safely as long as they observe the same precautions for air travel as the general population.1 However, the ACOG cautions that there may be inherent risks involved for pregnant women, and these should be observed before making any definite travel plans.
- Turbulence – Turbulence is a common occurrence during air travel. Since it is impossible to predict turbulence before making travel plans, expecting mothers should be aware of the potential risks associated with it. Due to risk of trauma due to severe air turbulence, expecting mothers should wear their seatbelts at all times while seated.1
- Fluid Retention and Blood Clots – Lower extremity edema, a condition where the body retains fluids in the tissue, or blood clots may occur during air travel.1 Certain preventive measures can be taken such as wearing support stockings, staying hydrated and periodically moving the lower extremities (getting out of your seat and walking up and down the aisle to stretch your legs, especially if there isn’t a lot of legroom in your seating area).1
- Radiation – Cosmic radiation, a natural source of background radiation from the sun and stars, enters our atmosphere somewhat like rain.2 It is generally not considered dangerous, and the risk of exposure to an unborn fetus is negligible. However, frequent flyers or air crew may be exposed to a higher level of this radiation.1 Therefore, expecting mothers may wish to consider limiting their air travel.
Tips for Safe Air Travel During Pregnancy
Flying while pregnant may be safe for most expecting mothers. However, even if your doctor gives you the green light to travel by plane, it’s a good idea to follow these tips to prevent complications.
1. Clear travel with your doctor. First things first: Make sure you are medically cleared to travel by air. Your doctor will most likely want to know the details of your trip, including how long the flight is, the altitude at which you will be flying, where you are traveling, and so on. Make sure you have the details ready to share with your medical professional and heed his or her advice to ensure the safety of you and your baby.
2. Check airline and insurance policies. Many airlines discourage traveling beyond a certain point in pregnancy. Contact your airline and ask about their policy for pregnant travelers. Some may require a doctor’s note verifying your due date. You should also contact your health insurance company and ask if your plan covers medical care if you need it during the flight or if you deliver at your destination. If you are traveling abroad, you may need to request a supplemental policy. Medical evacuation insurance may also be worth considering, in case you need to be flown back home for medical care.
3. Eat right and stay hydrated. Avoid gassy foods such as cabbage, broccoli and beans before you fly, as they can cause discomfort in flight. Changes in pressure may make things uncomfortable to begin with, so stick with foods both before and during flight that are easy on your digestion. It’s also important to stay hydrated during flight, as dehydration can cause reduced blood flow to the uterus.
4. Don’t forget your vitamins. If your doctor has recommended a prenatal vitamin, be sure to pack it with you in your carry-on luggage and remember to continue taking it and any other prescriptions you’ve been given. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows medication to be brought onboard a plane in unlimited amounts if it is in pill or solid form. Medication in liquid form in excess of 3.4 ounces may be stored in carry-on luggage in reasonable quantities for the flight, and does not need to be placed in zip-top bags.3
Travel can sometimes throw us off our routines, so you may want to set a reminder on your phone or ask your travel partner to help remind you to take your vitamins and medications.
Prenate® Vitamin Family
Our products are created with the ongoing nutritional needs of expecting mothers in mind. The Prenate® Vitamin Family offers complete prenatal supplement options for expecting mothers, from Prenate Pixie®, for before and during pregnancy, to Prenate Restore®, for breastfeeding and postpartum, to several other supplements that help support pregnancy. Talk to your doctor to see if a daily, prescription prenatal vitamin is right for you.