Is It Okay To Fly?
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, air travel is usually safe for most pregnant women. However, it is good practice to consult with your physician before taking off into the wild blue yonder.
As Long As There Are No Health Problems, You're Clear For Take-Off
As long as a woman is in good health and there are no medical complications such as spotting, diabetes, high blood pressure or a history of early delivery, most airlines are open to taking a pregnant woman on board. Obviously, airlines are not interested in an obstetrical emergency on their plane and they are well aware that the closer to your due date you are, the greater the likelihood of such an emergency. As a result, almost all airlines forbid domestic travel after 36 weeks and international travel beyond 32 weeks.
Having said that, airlines have their own policies so it is best to check with your carrier to find out what their rules are concerning flying while pregnant. Most airlines have a medical officer you can speak with, or at least an office which will be able to give you information. It is also a good idea to have a letter from your doctor indicating you are safe to fly. You may not need it, but then again, you just might. Don't forget to consider the timing of your travels so your return flight doesn't put you in the "no fly" time zone.
Are You Sure You Want To Do This?
There are definitely times during the pregnancy when air travel is easier than at other times. During the first trimester, when you may find yourself eating soda crackers to keep your stomach from reaching your throat, you may find flying very difficult. Some people get air sick without being pregnant. Pregnancy exacerbates the condition, so if you have to fly during your first trimester, carry an air bag in case you need it. Many women are happy to stay put and close to their doctors during this initial stage and that may not be a bad idea.
The Best Time To Take To The Skies
The second trimester is probably the best time to fly. Morning sickness is behind you and your energy levels are generally pretty good. The danger of premature labor or miscarriage is minimized and overall you should enjoy your flight. Consider an aisle seat which allows for easy access to the washrooms as well as ease in getting up and walking around. Movement is important during a flight since the seats are usually very close and leg room is limited. You'll want to keep your circulation healthy, and drinking lots of water as well as getting up and moving around are keys to success. If you're beside an empty seat put your feet up. Nobody begrudges a pregnant woman that pleasure.
What If I Go Into Labor?
By the third trimester, the chance of premature labor is forefront, so be sure you have a medical contact at your destination. Ensure your health coverage is valid and will cover you should you go into labor while you are away. Comfort is a big issue at this stage of a pregnancy and airline seats are not known to be comfortable. Request a seat with more space if you need it.
And, if you begin to have contractions on the plane, inform the crew if the pains are regular. It is probably not the first time they've encountered the experience and they'll be able to help if necessary.