||MARTIN CLINTON, Contributor
Air travel is generally safe for pregnant women, as long as there are no complications with the pregnancy and the expecting woman is not flying too close to her due date. But traveling pregnant does come with some warnings, such as an increased risk of blood clots and deep vein thrombosis, especially during long flights. To ensure safe and comfortable air travel when pregnant, follow these tips from the Cheapflights team.
This article was originally published on Cheapflights.com.
Quick tips for healthy air travel while pregnant
• Travel with at least one companion who also has your emergency contact info in addition to your doctor’s number programmed into their phone.
• Carry documentation with your expected date of delivery, doctor’s contact info and your blood type.
• Stay hydrated. Dehydration on airplanes can be worse when you’re pregnant, so drink plenty of caffeine-free, non-alcoholic fluids before, during and after the flight.
• Wear your seat belt continuously to minimize risk of injury from unpredictable turbulence.
• As always with flying, get up and walk around the cabin every two hours or so.
When is the best time to fly?
Photo Credit: iStock
According to the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, air travel is safest for pregnant women during the second trimester — weeks 18 to 24. If you are considering a flight during your pregnancy, check with both your doctor and the airline before you book.
General consensus in the medical community suggests it is best not to travel pregnant before 12 weeks due to morning sickness and the potentially increased risk of miscarriage. Though many pregnant women have no trouble flying in their first trimester, it is always better to err on the safe side and consult with your physician.
After 28 weeks, when the risk of going into labour increases, most airlines will require a letter from your doctor stating that you are fit for air travel while pregnant and confirming your estimated due date. If you are more than 36 weeks pregnant, many airlines will not let you fly due to the increased risk of delivering on-board.
A frequent concern among pregnant fliers is exposure to naturally occurring cosmic radiation during a flight. But the risks to both the passenger and her fetus are considered negligible, as the radiation exposure of even the longest flight is around 15 per cent of the recommended exposure limit of one millisievert per year. The Federal Aviation Administration has an online calculator you can use to determine radiation exposure received for particular flights.
It’s also recommended that you maintain up-to-date immunizations, in case the need to travel coincides with pregnancy. For travel to destinations requiring vaccinations, it’s advised that you consult your physician.
Airline rules for flying while pregnant
If you’re booking your flights with an agent, let them know that you’re pregnant and check that you are permitted to fly. If booking your flights online, be sure to check the airline’s website. It’s worth calling ahead to alert the airline about your pregnancy — this should also ensure that you get special service to keep you comfortable. It’s also recommended that you avoid smaller planes that fly below 7,000 feet, and choose larger planes with pressurized cabins.
Make yourself comfortable
Especially during pregnancy, reserving the right seat can make a difference, since you will need to be able to get up and move around the plane.
Try and reserve a spacious seat when you make your booking. Many airlines’ websites have information about the varying legroom on each of their seats. If you plan to travel pregnant, it’s worth spending a few extra bucks to get a bit more room. Be aware, though, that traditional “extra legroom” seats, such as those on the exit aisles, are often not permitted to those who are pregnant.
If you can’t reserve ahead, arrive at the airport early and ask for a bulkhead seat (the bulkhead is the partition between business class and economy).
It’s also useful to reserve an aisle seat if you can, especially if you’re traveling long-distance, which will save you from having to squeeze past other passengers every time you want to get out of your seat.
Don’t be shy. Explain that you’re pregnant and ask if there is any possibility of being upgraded or having a seat with a couple of open seats next to you.
Flight insurance considerations
Pregnant women can be seen as relatively high-risk, and many insurers will not provide air travel coverage if you have less than eight weeks to go before your due date. You could still claim losses unrelated to your pregnancy, but you might not be covered if you have to cancel your trip due to your pregnancy. To ensure peace of mind on flights while pregnant, look into air travel insurance.
Tips for your vacation
Once the flight’s over, it’s time to enjoy the vacation. Here are just a few more things to consider:
• Skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, so wear stronger sunscreen than usual.
• Keep a list of names and numbers to be contacted in case of emergency.
• Keep a list of local hospitals from the embassy or tourist board.
• Ask your doctor before embarking on any “dangerous” sports, such as diving or water sports.
• Bring your medical notes, including relevant ultrasounds, with you in case you need to go into hospital or deliver early.
• You’re on the ground. Relax and enjoy yourself on what could be your last diaper-free break for a while.
Click here to view a chart with airlines’ pregnant travel policies.
Martin Clinton is a digital marketer with Cheapflights. Cities are his thing, from the electricity of so many people buzzing about their lives to the diversity of people, activities and design. Martin’s appetite usually helps plan where he’ll visit, and nightlife, museums and the simple day-to-day perspective from city residents are what he pays attention to most.
Date Added: July 20, 2012 | Comments (2)
Thank you so much for sharing this important information about pregnancy and travelling, I love all these pregnancy tips for travelling.
Comment by Preeti — July 26, 2012 @ 7:13 am
These tips for sure will be very useful for me next summer. I was so lucky in finding this article. Thanks for the helpful write up!
Comment by Sara — August 21, 2012 @ 3:08 pm