Travelling When Pregnant Isn’t That Bad After All

Especially for first time mothers-to-be, boarding a plane might be out of the question.

Well, it’s about time you push aside those doubts and worries. If you’re in your second trimester, it is in fact, safe. Of course, every pregnancy has a slight risk anywhere you are. But evidence has shown that flights do not significantly increase them.

I came across an article written by Dr Jasmine Mohd of the Singapore KKH. Here, Dr Jasmine highlights that there is no harm in flying, especially when you’re in the second trimester (4-6 months of pregnancy) when viewed medically. However, to be on the safe side, different airlines have their own policy regarding this matter, most permitting mothers who is less than 34 weeks into their pregnancy to fly; plus a doctor’s letter which states the due date and annuls any increased risk of complications (e.g. twins/triplets, previous threatened abortion, history of repeated miscarriages).

Although not supported by any evidence, some professionals recognize the following as probable risks of flying when pregnant:

  • miscarriages
  • premature labour
  • premature breaking of water
  • early separation of placenta

As they imply, these risks are related to the fact that:

  • flying makes one more exposed to radiation as the ozone layer becomes thinner
  • atmospheric changes may interfere pregnancy in a way or another

What we are actually worried about during the flight is when you have to sit too long. This may cause swelling of the legs, nasal congestion, ear discomfort and motion sickness, which is worse in the first and last 3 months of pregnancy. The safest time to travel is when you’re less than 35 weeks pregnant (less than 32 weeks if you’re carrying twins or have an abnormal pregnancy). Another main worry is DVT (deep vein thrombosis), a condition whereby blood clots form in the legs, travel to the lungs and block its blood supply. This phenomenon is mostly due to prolonged sitting. Short flights of less than 4 hours are not worth the worries. The following can prevent DVT on flights longer than 4 hours:

  • walking regularly along the aisle (therefore, opt an aisle seat before hand)
  • drink a lot of water to stay hydrated (avoid coffee, tea and cola)
  • compression stockings can reduce risk of getting DVT

Travelling becomes a bad idea when:

  • you have a high risk of premature labor (e.g. repeated abortions, infections, dehydration, history of multiple miscarriages or an episode of bleeding and cramps while pregnant)
  • you have severe low blood count,
  • you recently had a fracture,
  • suffering from ear/sinus infections,
  • having unhealthy heart or lungs.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Unless you have the above listed, any problems during travelling can always be avoided.

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