Travel Tips for Pregnant Women
first hurdle that you have to overcome in traveling by air is the policy
of the airline. Each carrier has its own rules about pregnancy and
and the rules sometimes seem to change by the week. Even then, what
often seems to be up to the gate agent at the time you board.
airlines do not want to have obstetrical emergencies aboard their
(and neither do you, for that matter). They know that the likelihood of such emergencies
increases the closer you get to term. Almost
all airlines, therefore, forbid
domestic travel beyond thirty-six weeks of pregnancy and international travel
beyond thirty-two weeks.
mentioned, however, the rules vary. Most airlines will have a medical officer
or at least an office that you can call to find out what the rules really are.
It is best for you or your doctor to call that office and speak to the appropriate
person. That persons name needs to be written down, then, along with what
they said. You then need documentation in the form of either a letter from your
doctor or a copy of your medical records to prove that you do meet the requirements.
the travel arrangements have been made, many pregnant travelers express anxiety
regarding the effects of cosmic radiation. It is the opinion of aviation medicine
experts that this should not be of concern, even with repeated flights. Thus they
do not forbid frequent travel by pregnant flight attendants.
greatest concern when advising pregnant air travelers is the risk of blood clots,
known in medical terms as thromboembolic
disease or deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
You may have heard of it as economy class syndromeeven though
it is certainly not confined to economy class passengers.
of changes in your circulatory system when you are pregnant, you are at much greater
risk of developing blood clots in your legs and pelvis. This risk is increased
by prolonged sitting in one position, and by dehydration, both of which are part
and parcel of air travel. Then, when you get up and move around, the blood clots
may tear loose and travel to the lungs. This event, known as a pulmonary embolus,
is often fatal.
advice is to carry with you some bottled water and to sit in an aisle seat. If
you dont already have to go to the bathroom every two hours just because
youre pregnant, then we advise you to drink enough water that you do have
to go. The increased fluid intake plus the increased activity greatly reduces
the risk of blood clots. And dont worry about irritating the flight crew
or the other passengers. Unless there is a true emergency, they love to make allowances
for a pregnant woman.
do not, by the way, recommend the use of aspirin to prevent these blood clots.
There no good evidence that it helps. And some studies have shown an increase
in other pregnancy-related complications with the use of even small doses of aspirin.
infections are also a common side effect of flying while
nasal blood vessels, extra mucus in the lungs, dry air in the airplane and crowded
conditions all add up to more germs in your lungs. Try not to hang around people
who are coughing or sneezing and if you develop respiratory problems, treat them
we get past the medical risks, we come to just plain discomforts.
that your intestines move more slowly when you are pregnant. This means that more
gas accumulates. As the airplane ascends and the air pressure decreases, this
gas expands and your abdomen, already swollen from the pregnancy, distends even
loose clothing, eating lightly and drinking plenty of fluids will help to diminish
feet do not necessarily indicate either blood clots or toxemia. They are simply
a result of dilated blood vessels due to the progesterone in your body. But be
aware that your feet will swell during flight, so wear footwear that is loose
enough to accommodate this while being snug enough to prevent your tripping and
falling. Lace-up shoes like sneakers are probably best.
though commercial aircraft are pressurized, the air pressure is rarely that of
normal sea level. It usually corresponds to an altitude of 5000 - 8000 feet (1500
2500 meters). This altitude is usually not a problem during pregnancy.
If your pregnancy is already complicated by anemia, however, or by a baby that
has been diagnosed as growth restricted, the small drop in oxygen
level could be critical to your baby. In those circumstances, it is best to consult
your physician before flying.
pregnancy is not an excuse to leave off your seatbelt. The belt should be worn
low on your pelvis, just under the level of your pregnancy bulge.