Air Travel During Pregnancy:

Safety, Recommendations, and Comfort

written by Michela Nelson, ND

July 2023

Pregnancy is a remarkable journey, filled with excitement and anticipation. As you plan for various aspects of your pregnancy, including travel, it's essential to gather the right information to ensure your well-being and comfort. Let's explore the details about air travel during pregnancy, including risks, precautions, and steps to enhance your travel experience.

Understanding the Risk:

While the overall risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) after air travel is low in the average person, research suggests that the this risk is particularly increased during pregnancy. The American College of Gynecology (ACOG) does not explicitly suggest limiting air travel during pregnancy, and this may be because the available evidence regarding the impact of air travel on adverse pregnancy outcomes is limited and subject to debate.

Gestational Age and Birth Weight: Evidence indicates that air travel during pregnancy does not lead to adverse effects on gestational age or birth weight. Although there are statistically significant differences in these metrics between women who traveled by air during pregnancy and those who did not, the clinical impact of these differences is negligible. This finding provides reassuring insights for pregnant women and their healthcare providers.

Flight Duration Consideration: It's important to note that the safety of long flights (over 6 hours) during pregnancy is not definitively established by current data. While short flights seem to have minimal impact, if you're planning a longer journey, consulting your healthcare provider is advised.

Practical Recommendations:

Based on research findings, here are recommended steps for pregnant travellers:

  • Stay Active: Frequent movement is crucial. Make an effort to walk around during the flight.
  • Hydration: Ensure you remain well-hydrated throughout your journey.
  • Calf Exercises: Perform simple calf exercises to promote healthy circulation.
  • Compression Stockings: Consider compression stockings with medium compression.
  • Health Practitioner Consultation: If you fall into the highest risk category, carefully consider preventative medication. If you have specific concerns about this, consult your doctor or midwife.

Best Time to Travel: Mid-pregnancy, between 14 to 28 weeks, is generally considered the best time to travel. During these weeks, energy levels are higher, morning sickness has improved, and mobility is still relatively easy. After 28 weeks, moving around or sitting for extended periods may become more challenging.

Precautions and Comfort: Before embarking on any travel plans, discuss your intentions with your doctor or midwife. If you are at risk or have previously had certain complications like preeclampsia, preterm labor, or prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM), travel might not be recommended. Ensure you have a prenatal check-up before leaving, and carry a copy of your health records with you.

Ensuring Safety While Traveling: If you experience any symptoms that raise concerns during your trip, such as vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, or signs of preeclampsia, seek medical assistance promptly. For longer trips, take steps to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), including staying hydrated, wearing loose-fitting clothing, and walking and stretching regularly.

International Travel Preparation: If you're planning international travel, visit your doctor or midwife at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to discuss your plans, health concerns, and recommended vaccinations. Carry a copy of your health records with you and locate nearby medical facilities along your travels.

Safety on the Flight: During a healthy pregnancy, occasional air travel is generally safe. Most airlines permit domestic travel until around 36 weeks of pregnancy. For international flights, the cut-off may be earlier or dependent on your particular airline carrier. If you have medical or pregnancy conditions that could worsen during a flight, it's wise to avoid air travel.

Comfort Tips for Plane Travel:

  • Opt for an aisle seat for ease of movement out of your seat
  • Avoid carbonated drinks to minimize discomfort caused by gas expansion.
  • Always wear your seat belt, ensuring it sits below your belly.
  • Move your feet and legs frequently, get up and take short walks during the flight.

In conclusion, air travel during pregnancy can be a safe and enjoyable experience when approached with careful consideration and adherence to recommended measures. Prioritize your comfort and well-being while making informed choices that align with your unique circumstances.

#PregnancyTravel #SafeJourney #ComfortableTravel

Go Back to the Blog