Is it Safe for Pregnant Women to Fly by Plane?

plane wingPregnancy is a very worrying period of life of any woman. Before doing anything a woman should think about her baby. What about traveling by plane? The dangers of flying are grandmother’s prejudices or does the threat really exist? Doctors did not come to a common opinion about the flights, however, you may often hear that this is an undesirable risk for a pregnant woman.

Let’s have a closer look at the problems that can be caused while flying:

  • Pressure drops causing a risk of the premature birth: It is known that pregnant women are extremely sensitive to pressure changes, the inevitable phenomenon during the flight, especially noticeable during take-off and landing. With absolute certainty it is impossible to say how a woman will endure it. There is an opinion that a strong drop in atmospheric pressure can cause premature birth. However, there is no scientific evidence for it. Of course, premature birth is a frequent phenomenon, it can occur on the ground as well. But it is in the air that there will be no children’s resuscitation, doctors’ brigades and the opportunity to provide qualified assistance.

It is possible to find out the risk of premature births by ultrasound, by measuring the length of the cervix. Many airlines introduce restrictions on the flight of women who have a high chance of knowing the joy of motherhood right on the plane. These include late pregnant women, women with multiple pregnancies and those who already have an anamnesis of the premature birth.

  • Lack of oxygen: During the flight in the cabin the oxygen concentration decreases. This fact is also associated with a lot of excitement of pregnant women, who immediately imagine a terrible picture of oxygen starvation of a child in the womb. The Swiss professor conducted research, studied the effect of relative hypoxia on the body of healthy pregnant women and found no cause for concern: there were no deviations in the gas composition of the mother’s blood, nor in the reactions of the fetus. So modern science is believed to be that a slight decrease in oxygen saturation does not pose a risk to pregnant women. True, only healthy pregnant women were taken into account. Women who suffer from anemia will be more likely to suffer from a shortage of oxygen. Anemia of severe degree is a direct contraindication to the flight.
  • Blood stasis, venous disease and thromboembolic complications: The formation of thrombosis, that is, a clot of blood in the veins of the legs – this is perhaps the most serious danger to which pregnant women expose themselves, sitting motionless during long flights. Doctors gloomily report that the risk of developing deep venous thrombosis in pregnant women is 5 times higher than the risk of developing it in non-pregnant women of about the same age. Pregnancy in itself is a risk factor for venous thromboembolism, and a prolonged sitting in the economy class chair does not clearly improve the situation.
  • Possible exposure to radiation: Cosmic radiation is not a myth. True, it is mainly studied in such institutes as NASA in connection with the danger of exposure to astronauts. While we live somewhere near the sea level, under a thick layer of the atmosphere (it serves as a natural barrier to radiation), we annually receive a radiation dose equal to two X-ray images. This is considered safe. However, at an altitude where modern aircraft are floating, not aiming to conquer the space, the protective layer of the atmosphere is much lower than on the ground. Back in the early 90’s, the US Federal Aviation Administration issued a paper acknowledging that aircraft pilots were irradiated for almost a year in almost the same way as on objects with increased radiation hazard. Researchers believe that infrequent flights do not have a negative effect on the fetus. For example, during a transatlantic flight (which lasts at least 7 hours) a person is irradiated 2.5 times less than with a chest x-ray.

When is the Best Time to Fly

The most favorable time for a flight is the second trimester, from 14 to 28 weeks of pregnancy. In the first trimester, there is a risk of miscarriage, the main organs of the child have not yet formed, and the passenger is likely to suffer unpleasant symptoms of toxicosis. In the third trimester, the risk of premature birth is great, in addition, because of the size of the belly a pregnant woman may feel uncomfortable in the chair of the aircraft.plane fly sky

If everything is in order, then most likely the doctor will be in solidarity with the World Health Organization, which does not recommend boarding an aircraft only in such cases:

  • Pregnancy is more than 36 weeks (more than 32 weeks with multiple births);
  • Complicated pregnancy (pathology of pregnancy, threat of miscarriage, etc.);
  • within seven days after delivery.

Rules for a Successful Flight:

  • To buy a ticket is better, of course, in the business class: the seats are wider and generally more comfortable. In the economy class, you can ask to take a place in the front row, where you can stretch your legs, not resting your knees in the front seat. In addition, the flow of air is in the plane from the nose to the tail – in the front seat it will be easier to breathe. Do not choose a place by the window, you should be able to often get up and go into the passage.pregnant woman fly by plane
  • Clothes for flight should be comfortable, free cut and made of breathable material. In the salon you can grab a few pillows – under your neck and still somewhere to provide yourself with maximum convenience.
  • To avoid dehydration, drink as much water as possible, and give up diuretics (coffee, fizzy drinks).
  • The seat belt must be fastened;
  • Before the flight, remove the shoes. Do not sit on your leg, this makes blood circulation in your legs difficult. From time to time it makes sense to strain the calf muscles and stroll around the salon.
  • In order to be able to refresh yourself, take with you a spray with sea water for washing the nose and aerosol with thermal water.
  • Always keep an exchange card with you, as well as a note indicating your blood type and the phone of a loved one (if you fly alone or only with children).