The answer to the question of whether it’s safe to fly when pregnant has always been up in the air – but most doctors say there are many risks. So, what are the risks and when is it safe to travel in the air when you’re expecting? Here are a few tips and tricks, so you know the ins and outs of flying while pregnant.
What you need to know about flying during pregnancy
Our team suggests the first step before you book that getaway before bub comes along, is checking with your doctor or obstetrician to see if they’re comfortable with you travelling.
It’s a must that you carry a letter from your doctor if you are 28 weeks pregnant or later, stating any complications you may have experienced throughout your pregnancy, the due date and other important information. If you want to know what to include, more information can be found on the airline’s websites.
Your destination must also be a factor considered if you’re tossing up whether to fly or not. You’re prohibited from flying for longer than four hours if you’re over 36 weeks pregnant, or 32 weeks if you’re expecting more than one child. For flights shorter than four hours, you generally can’t be more than 36 weeks pregnant.
What are the risks of flying?
- Jet lag
After a flight, jet lag can affect many passengers and lack of sleep can lead to chronic fatigue, exhaustion and memory loss. Jet lag can really impact the mind and body of expectant mothers who need more than nine hours, as well as short naps throughout the day.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
The blood clotting condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) can be fatal if left untreated. DVT usually occurs in the legs and people have a higher risk of developing the condition on longer flights. Pregnant women, those with a history of heart disease, people who have recently had surgery or the elderly are more at risk of DVT.
It’s advised you move around the plane as much as you can, while also wearing compression tights or inflight socks. This will assist with increasing the blood circulation to your heart and legs, and also help prevent blood clots.
When you’re on a plane, cabin pressure can sometimes mimic high altitude. This sometimes causes shallow breathing, which can lead to aching joints, difficulty concentrating and light-headedness.
This can be concerning when you’re flying, so alert the flight attendants immediately if you’re experiencing these symptoms and they will be able to increase air flow to the cabin.
Sometimes when you sit for a long amount of time, your digestive system can start to slow down, so you may feel constipated and gassy. Experts say the best way to prevent this is to drink lots of water and move around the plane.
A major concern with air travel is getting sick. Here are some tips to avoid falling ill:
- Clean your area
When you travel, pack hand sanitisers and anti-bacterial wipes into your carry-on luggage or handbag. Before you even sit down, wipe your tray tables, head rests and also arm rests to make sure your area is clean and free of germs.
- Drink water
If you’re flying for a long period of time, it can be easy to forget about drinking water. The main concern would be becoming dehydrated, so make sure you keep your fluids up by drinking lots of water.
For any pregnant woman, sleep is very important. However, falling to sleep on planes may be very difficult because of loud passengers, turbulence, getting up for bathroom breaks, food deliveries and in-flight announcements. So, make sure to pack a set of noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs, as well as an eye mask. These items may help you get a good night’s sleep to protect your health.
- Walk around and stretch
Again, a major concern is getting DVT in your legs. So, getting up, moving around and stretching will help encourage blood flow, loosen any muscle stiffness, prevent aching muscles and pressure wounds. There are small exercises you can do in your seat like circling your feet and stretching your arms. You should move up and down the plane as well.
- Pack your own snacks
Airline food is known to be well, interesting to say the least. So, pack your own food (specifically food that you’re craving) if the items abide by the rules of what you can and can’t take on board with you.
- Moisturise your skin
Along with constant air conditioning and the fact 50 per cent of cabin air is recycled, your face and lips can become dehydrated on board a plane. So, in your carry on, pack a flight-size approved face moisturiser and lip balm and use them regularly.
- Chew Gum
You’ve probably noticed that when you take off and land, the pressure in the cabin changes dramatically, making your ears pop. This feeling can sometimes be painful, so chewing gum or yawning will relieve the pressure in your eustachian (middle ear) tube. This will then allow air to flow quickly and freely.