I'm pregnant. Can I fly on an airplane?
Thomas Strong, MD, is the medical director at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center's Maternal Fetal Medicine Center in Glendale, Ariz,
Question: I have plans to attend several out-of-state weddings this summer. However, I am nearly three months pregnant. What restrictions are there for airplane travel while pregnant?
Answer: Although there are some restrictions as to who should fly on an airplane and when, commercial air travel is generally considered safe for women experiencing normal, healthy pregnancies. That being said, it's important to speak with your health care provider before making any travel plans.
Airplane travel during pregnancy can pose risks for some. Women who have experienced complications or who are considered "high risk" should probably not fly. This includes women who have poorly controlled diabetes, clotting disorders, sickle cell disease, placental abnormalities, hypertension, or are at risk for preterm labor. This is why it is crucial that you discuss travel plans with your physician.
Travel during the second trimester - from weeks 14 to 24 - considered ideal. Morning sickness associated with the first trimester and the potential for preterm delivery during the third trimester can occasionally make travel undesirable. Travel of any kind is often discouraged after 36 weeks of pregnancy or if there are complications. Further, most airlines have their own restrictions. So be sure to check with the airline before booking a flight.
Pregnant travelers should wear comfortable clothing and keep plenty of water and snacks on hand. Staying hydrated and well nourished while traveling is very important. It is also recommended to walk the aisles every hour, flex and extend your feet, rotate your ankles, and wiggle your toes to promote blood circulation.
Whenever and wherever you travel, keep your health-care provider informed of where you're going and for how long. Discuss any risks of your destination (especially international destinations) or complications in your pregnancy that might warrant special consideration. Additionally, keep copies readily available of your prenatal medical records, health insurance information, and a note from your doctor saying it is safe to travel. .