Pregnancy is the time when many changes occur in a woman’s body. Some lifestyle changes are, of course, necessary, some of them in order to protect the baby, and others to make the mother-to-be more comfortable.
Many pregnant women worry about the effects of airplane travel to their unborn baby. One of the main fears is the risk of radiation exposure in the airplane, which is possible in theory, but there is no scientific proof that would definitely confirm this concern. This article deals with some of those fears and offers useful tips for pregnant women.
Risks of flying while pregnant
Theoretically, there is no reason why a woman who is completely healthy and with normal pregnancy should not be allowed to fly. However, women whose pregnancy is considered to be high-risk, for example due to diabetes, hypertension or sickle cell anemia, should not fly at all. These women are usually advised to rest as much as possible and to avoid any physical or mental strain, and this includes traveling in an airplane.
Women who have placental abnormalities or who are at risk of premature labor should not fly either.
During the first 12 weeks of pregnancy morning sickness is one of the major issues. This normal occurrence is frustrating enough even without combining it with motion sickness that happens to many people during flying.
Flying is most comfortable between the weeks 18 and 27, that is in the second trimester. Everything after that is considered risky, and some companies do not allow women who are more than 36 weeks pregnant to fly with their airliners. On the other side, there are airlines that allow even a woman who is one week away from her due date.
Another risk of flying while pregnant is circulation problems. Pregnant women already have somewhat poorer circulation, and if this combines with lack of motion and too much sitting on a flight, it can lead to blood clotting. In addition, during an airplane trip there is a decreased fluid intake with the risk of dehydration, and all this may increase the possibility of deep vein thrombosis.
Tips for flying during pregnancy
It is very important to dress in comfortable, loose-fitting clothes while traveling on an airplane. Shoes should have adjustable straps that can be loosened in case the feet get swollen, and pressure stockings can help normalize the blood flow.
Heavy meals and very aromatic and spicy foods should be avoided during flight. It is best to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and to drink plenty of fluids. Alcohol and caffeine are not recommended.
Crossing the legs while sitting is not recommended. It is best to sit with legs slightly apart and to stand up and walk around the isle every once in a while, to stretch the legs and get the blood flowing properly.
Sleeping pills should be avoided. Sleep and rest should be natural, so it is better to use an eye mask and ear plugs instead, to listen to some soothing music and try to relax.