Pregnancy is a tumultuous life experience, so do you travel during pregnancy ? It may leave you wondering how you’re going to rearrange your plans over the coming months – particularly if those plans involved getting on an airplane. The metal detectors, pressurized cabins, and all sorts of other factors involved in air travel often leave expecting mothers wondering if it’s safe to go anywhere near an airport during their pregnancy.
Good news: Depending on how far along you are, it’s perfectly safe to fly while pregnant! The second trimester is likely to be your best time to travel, as the morning sickness of the first trimester will have settled out, but you won’t be as large (or as close to delivery time) as in your third. However, there are still some important considerations before you hop on the plane without a care.
*Talk to your doctor, as well as the airline you’re planning to travel on. If your pregnancy has been prone to complications (multiples, gestational diabetes, or sever anemia, to list a few examples), or if you’re past 34 weeks, your doctor will probably prefer that you stay closer to home. Airlines each have their own restrictions on when pregnant women can travel and what documentation they need to have in hand when they arrive for their flight.
*Make sure to take a copy of your prenatal information with you, and ask your doctor to refer you to medical care local to your destination, just in case something happens while you’re hundreds of miles from home.
*Book smart! Standard, pressurized airplanes are safe for travel during pregnancy, but smaller, non-pressurized flights should be avoided. Ask for a bulkhead seat while booking so you have extra leg room, and try to sit on the aisle so you don’t disturb others during your likely multiple trips to the bathroom.
*Regular metal detectors are perfectly safe to walk through for your security screening – the only X-rays used in airports are in the luggage scanners, and that radiation won’t affect you at all. The TSA claims backscatter scanners are also safe, but if you’re concerned about your baby’s health, you can always opt for a pat-down search instead. As for low-level cosmic radiation on the flight itself, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
*Pack any vitamins and medications you’re taking in your carry-on luggage, as well as some snacks – many airlines no longer serve meals. Drink plenty of fluids during the flight, especially water.
*Dress comfortably, with as few fasteners as possible between you and a much-needed bathroom break.
*During the flight, keep your seatbelt fastened whenever you’re sitting down, below your belly and across your hips. Try to walk up and down the cabin at least once an hour, to help ward off developing blood clots; you can also stretch your feet and legs in your seat more frequently. If you’re lucky enough to have an empty neighboring seat, put your feet up!