Flying During Pregnancy

Discussion in 'First Trimester' started by midwife_online, May 20, 2005.

  1. midwife_online

    midwife_online Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2005
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    Flying During Pregnancy
    I thought I would give some advice on travelling whilst pregnant, it is a question I get asked a lot at work and thought you guys would want to know some answers.

    When travelling to a distant location you have to consider how you are going to cope. Flying has not been shown to increase your risk of miscarriage or fetal abnormality, though it can exasterbate some of the symptoms you may already be feeling. I have separated the trimesters.

    The 1st Trimester (0-3 months) During this period you will be experiencing loads of symptoms including nausea, bloating, frequency of urination, some breathlessness, some ligamentous pains that come and go, tiredness, headaches and light headedness...all of which can be made worse by air travel. The pressure in the cabin can make your feet swell further, increase nausea, increase your heart rate, and your urges to go to the toilet.

    The risk of miscarriage is increased in the first trimester as this is the main developmental stage, so you need to consider how you would cope if you were to have any problems during flight or in some remote destination. This isn't to frighten you, but is something you need to consider.

    The 2nd Trimester (3-6 months) This is the best time to travel as the risks of miscarriage have diminished and complications, such as premature labour, are low. If you have a medical condition or have had pregnancy complications you should discuss these with your doctor.

    The 3rd Trimester (6-9 months) From the seventh month of pregnancy onwards the physical burden of carrying the baby increases. The longer the pregnancy continues the higher the chance that labour will occur. For this reason most major airlines will not allow pregnant women to travel after 34 weeks (this includes the return flight!). This is because cabin crew are not trained to cope with obstetric emergencies. Between 28-36 weeks airlines may allow a woman to fly if she has a doctor's certificate showing that there are no complications and stating the expected delivery date. Complications that would prevent travel include carrying twins or a previous premature labour.

    Blood Clots
    Pregnancy increases your risk of developing a DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis), and flying increases this further due to the pressure of the cabin and sitting down for long periods of time. Make sure, if you fly, you:

    Keep your calf muscles on the move.
    Drink plenty of fluids.
    Wear support stockings (Thrombo-embolic Deterrent Stockings (TEDS))

    If you have already had a DVT then your risks are even higher and will need to arrange treatment with your doctor before travelling. It is not reccommended you take Aspirin during pregnancy.

    If you have any medical problems then you must discuss these with your doctor before you fly.

    Careful thought must be given to your choice of destination. Of greatest concern is the risk of malaria. Malaria carries significant risks to the mother and baby during pregnancy. There is also the question of anti-malarial drug safety on the developing child. Some countries require certificates of vaccination, which mean having to have live vaccines (for example polio and yellow fever). You and your doctor will need to decide together if the benefits of having these vaccines outweigh the risks for your personal situation. However, it is better to avoid travelling to countries with these diseases if at all possible.

    Tips When Flying
    Try to order a bulkhead-row, or aisle seat so that you have greater freedom of movement - you will probably need to clock where the toilet is as soon as you board!!

    Order a special meal, or better still take your own food on board so that you can avoid those risky foods such as fish or poorly cooked chicken etc

    Don't forget to carry you maternity book/notes with you (if you have had a midiwife booking she will give you your hand-held notes) in case anything happens (you should get in the habit of taking them everywhere you go, just in case something happens).

    Wear comfortable clothes in layers (as you will be sure to have your hot and cold flushes) and flat shoes.

    Keep your lap belt low around your hips during the flight, not around your abdomen.

    Bring a small pillow from home, or get one from the flight attendant, and place it under your lower back to avoid back strain

    If you are bothered by motion sickness, bring along a few bags of peppermint tea or ginger tea, both of which have been known to calm a queasy stomach. Look into buying an acupressure wrist band for more severe cases.

    Drink plenty of water. Try to consume at least one litre of water for every two hours in flight (I know..this means even more trips to the loo!!!)

    Make sure you have health insurance (with repatriaration - they will send you home in an emergency situation)

    Carry an E111 form with you - you can get these from the Post Office.

    The bottom-line is, really, you should consult with your midwife or obstetrician before you travel...they will know you case inside-out, and will be able to advise you appropriately.

    For those of you travelling soon,

    Bon Voyage!

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