Is It Safe to Fly While I'm Pregnant?
I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO TAKE A VACATION WITH MY HUSBAND BEFORE THE BABY IS BORN. IS IT SAFE TO FLY? WHERE CAN I GO? WHAT GESTATIONAL AGE CAN I FLY AND WHEN DO I HAVE TO STOP? ARE THERE ANY PRECAUTIONS I SHOULD TAKE WHEN I AM FLYING?
If you have a normal, uncomplicated pregnancy that is not high risk you should be able to fly during your pregnancy, but certainly check with your doctor first, because he/she knows you and your particular situation best and will best be able to guide you. Always take trip insurance during pregnancy, because unpredictable situations can arise in pregnancy that can increase the chances for needing to cancel your trip.
If something unexpected comes up and you need to cancel, your doctor can also write a letter in support of your cancellation, but it is much easier with trip insurance. We recommend travel in the continental United States because it is also unpredictable what health care and blood supply is like in other countries.
Also, with any travel, Zika infection is a concern and you should speak to your doctor if you plan on traveling, especially outside of the United States to make sure that you are not increasing your risk of exposure to Zika. You should also check the CDC website on Zika infection to make sure that there are no reports of Zika where you are planning to travel. This website is consistently updated so check when you book your vacation and prior to leaving for vacation.
If you plan on going outside of the United States certain vaccinations or prophylactic medications may be necessary and you should check with your doctor to see if these are compatible with pregnancy. Wearing compression socks or stockings on the plane is helpful for circulation, and decreasing swelling. Staying well hydrated and keeping your bladder empty is important, as is getting up and walking around and moving your legs around every hour that you are awake to prevent blood clots. There is a minimal amount of radiation exposure for intermittent commercial air travel and this is not a concern for vacation travel.
If you are a pilot or flight attendant and fly frequently, speak to your doctor about your work plans. Going through the airport scanner is completely safe in pregnancy (it would require 200,000 airport scans to reach the radiation exposure of one CT scan of the abdomen which some women must have for an emergency if medically necessary in pregnancy_ reference Obstetrics prolog, Seventh edition, ACOG page 93).
Air travel after 34 weeks is not recommended and different airlines have different rules and regulations but from the obstetrical perspective, non-emergent air travel should be restricted after 34 weeks.
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