Traveling By Plane – Is There Any Risk During Pregnancy?

Most airline companies would not allow obviously pregnant women to travel by air, which means that is about 24 weeks of pregnancy onwards. This, however, contradicts the statement made by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) that women with healthy, single pregnancies can fly safely up to 36 weeks’ gestation.

Contrary to wrong beliefs, the lowered cabin pressure does not pose any danger to the baby because the oxygen level provided by the placenta is highly dynamic. Pregnant woman herself is in a better position to initially decide if she should travel or postpone the trip until after delivery.

pregnant woman in aeroplaneCommercial air travel does not pose an immediate risk to a healthy pregnant woman or her fetus, but some suggests that the best time to travel by air is between 18 to 24 weeks of pregnancy.

This being, the first trimester poses a risk for a miscarriage and the third trimester for a premature labor and delivery.

This holds especially true to women who have a history of both conditions.

If you must travel during the third trimester, most airlines will routinely ask a letter from your obstetrician, stating that you are allowed to travel by plane and that there is no immediate health risks to you and your baby.

There are special preparations however that the traveling woman should take into consideration other than her scheduled prenatal visits and expected date of delivery. Here is a list of the things you should attend to before you travel:

  • Confirmation of an intrauterine pregnancy and not an ectopic one should be made, because if it is the latter, it poses a high risk to the woman.
  • Clear with your health and medical insurer about policy coverage while traveling abroad.
  • Check in advance the medical facilities in your destination in case the need for it arises.
  • If travel time will take some time, arrange in advance where you can seek prenatal care.
  • Determine the influenza season in your destination and have influenza vaccine accordingly and if necessary.
  • Determine in advance the blood screening policies in your destination.
  • Determine the prevalence of tuberculosis in your destination as there might be a need for skin testing before and after travel.
  • Have necessary medications available for dealing with the common discomforts of pregnancy.
  • Be very particular with the food you eat to avoid gas pains and other abdominal discomforts.
  • Wear your seatbelt during the entire travel for safety.


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