Travelling during pregnancy by air: Is it safe?
All set to get on that jet? Follow these tips to experience a smooth flight during pregnancy
Travelling by air during pregnancy is safer than you think. One just needs to observe few precautions and get the timing of travel right.
Dr Papia Goswami Mukherjee, consultant gynaecologist, Kumar Clinic, Mumbai says, “The best time to fly is in the second trimester, that is, between 14-28 weeks.”
“If you need to travel via flight after this period, then the safest time is before 36 weeks if carrying an uncomplicated singleton pregnancy and before 32 weeks if carrying an uncomplicated twin pregnancy,” she adds.
Points to remember while travelling by air
- There is no need to worry about the security check at the airport. “The scanner devices and metal detectors generally do not pose any risk for the mother or the foetus,” says Dr Mukherjee.
- Flying in smaller, non-pressurised planes is not recommended at any stage of pregnancy as the lower oxygen levels may impact your baby. Commercial planes pose no such risk to the growing foetus.
- Information suggests that noise, vibration and cosmic radiation present negligible risk for the occasional air-traveller. However, in cases of very frequent fliers, there may be an increased incidence of radiation risk to the foetus within the first 3 months of development.
- Long haul flights (flights with over 4-hours of travel time) may cause swelling around the ankles, nausea or blood clots. “It is important that the mum-to-be ensures periodic movement of her legs during the travel duration,” says Dr Mukherjee.
Click on Continue reading to know when you cannot fly by air while pregnant.
Every airline has some diminutions for pregnant travellers:
- Majority of airlines won’t allow pregnant women to fly for over four hours after 35 weeks.
- For flights under four hours, travel is often not permitted after 36 weeks.
- If you are travelling in a plane after you complete 28 weeks, you may require a certificate of fitness from the doctor stating the due date and that you are ‘fit to fly’.
- Do have a look at the airline’s travel policy for the pregnant woman when you book tickets. This information is generally available on the airline’s website.
Tips for a comfortable flight
Dr Mukherjee suggests the following for a problem free flight.
- Wear loose clothing (like maternity pants etc) and comfortable shoes.
- Try to get an aisle seat. It makes walks inside the plane and frequent bathroom visits possible.
- Periodically move your legs with in-seat exercises. Extend your legs, heel first, and gently flex your foot to stretch your calf muscles. When you’re sitting, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes. Do these exercises every 30 minutes.
- Wear graduated elastic compression support stockings to prevent the risk of clots in the legs.
- Keep drinking cups of water (preferably bottled water) at regular intervals to stay hydrated. Avoid alcohol and caffeine on board.
- Avoid gas-producing foods and fizzy drinks as entrapped gas expands with altitude and can make you feel uncomfortable.
- The strap of the seatbelt should be fastened low on the hipbones under the abdominal bump to avoid jerkiness during travel.
Read our article on important things to consider before travelling during pregnancy.
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