Looking to take a babymoon or spend time with family before your bundle of joy arrives? Traveling during pregnancy is generally safe, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, but there are some things expecting mothers should keep in mind before booking a flight.
Pregnancy can bring a higher risk of deep-vein thrombosis, a rare condition where blood clots form in the leg and pelvic veins often due to being seated or immobile for long periods. Nonetheless, traveling while pregnant is easy with a little prep. First and foremost, don’t be afraid to travel. These are some of the last times you will be able to take a truly stress-free trip and it’s important not to fear the experience. The memories of traveling with a baby in your belly will stay in your mind forever and prompt you to give birth to a true traveller.
BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
Schedule your travel carefully
General consensus in the medical community suggests it’s best not to travel pregnant before 12 weeks due to morning sickness and the potentially increased risk of miscarriage. Though many pregnant women have no trouble flying in their first trimester, it is always better to err on the safe side and consult with your physician.
After 28 weeks, when the risk of going into labour increases, most airlines will require a letter from your doctor stating that you’re fit for air travel while pregnant and confirming your estimated due date. If you’re more than 36 weeks pregnant, many airlines will not let you fly due to the increased risk of delivering on board.
It’s best to travel in your 2nd trimester (between weeks 14 and 28), when risks for pregnancy emergencies – like miscarriage in the 1st trimester or preterm labour in the 3rd trimester – are lowest. Also, after 28 weeks it may be difficult to stay seated for a long time. After weeks 34 and 35, stay close to home so that you are close to your doctor and hospital.
A frequent concern among pregnant fliers is the exposure to naturally occurring cosmic radiation during a flight. However, the risks to both the passenger and her fetus are considered negligible, as the radiation exposure of even the longest flight is around 15% of the recommended exposure limit of one millisievert per year. It’s generally advised to avoid travel in the final month of pregnancy as well as during the first 7 days after delivery.
See your doctor
Ask your doctor before embarking on any potentially risky activities, such as diving or water sports. If traveling internationally, also check with your doctor and to determine what, if any, vaccinations are needed for your journey. For some regions of the world, immunizations are necessary prior to travel. Proof of immunization is a requirement for entering some countries. Some immunizations require more than one shot and some prescriptions like anti-malarial medications may have to be started weeks in advance.
Be sure to pack prescription medications in your carry-on. Fill all prescriptions, stock up on common over-the-counter medications, while most travellers might not think twice about tossing aspirin and routine prescription medications into their bags, traveling with medication should take some thought and pre-planning. Unbeknownst to you, your prescription medicines and even some over-the-counter medications might be illegal where you are headed. From how to pack your medication to what to do if you run out of medication while abroad.
Make a flight plan
Travel with at least 1 companion who also has your emergency contact information. Before take-off, make sure your doctor’s number is programmed into his or her phone.
While I generally love direct flights, if you are flying long distance, 2 shorter flights may be better. That way, you can get out, stretch, eat a nice meal and recharge.
Read the rules
Each airline has its own rules for flying while pregnant. If you’re booking your flights with an agent, let them know that you’re pregnant when you book your flight and ask they check you are permitted to fly. If booking your flights online, be sure to check the airline’s website. It’s also worth calling ahead to alert the airline about your pregnancy, too. Not only can you confirm that you will be able to fly, but you can also ensure that you get special service to keep you comfortable during your travels.