According to a new committee opinion issued by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, occasional air travel is safe for healthy pregnant women. That holds true even in the last month of pregnancy, although most doctors generally prefer that women stop air travel around 36 weeks in case they go into early labor.
The ACOG recommends that soon-to-be-moms exercise “normal precautions” by drinking lots of water, getting up and walking, wearing support stockings and keeping your seat belt fastened while seated. Because pregnant women are at increased risk of blood clots, these measures are “even more important.”
“If your stomach has been on a roll during pregnancy, consider taking an anti-nausea pill before getting on a plane. Also, avoid consuming foods or drinks that can cause gas because gas will expand in your stomach at high altitudes.
Some airlines require a note from a doctor if a pregnant woman wants to travel up to a month before her due date. ‘”It’s not that flying is particularly dangerous at that time,”‘ said Dr. William Barth Jr., chairman of ACOG’s Committee on Obstetric Practice. ‘”It’s that the probability of going into labor is higher,”‘ and airlines want to avoid that possibility.
If you have control over your schedule, traveling by plane in mid-pregnancy (14 to 28 weeks) is preferable because that’s when the risks of miscarriage and premature labor are lowest, according to the Mayo Clinic.”
The ACOG says that pregnant women who fly constantly (perhaps for work), are at greater risk because of the exposure to cosmic radiation. This form of radiation comes from the sun and outer space and is more intense at higher altitudes. If you’re interested in calculating your exposure to cosmic radiation from a specific flight, visit the FAA’s website: tinyurl.com/cosmicrad.
Pregnant women who travel occasionally don’t have to worry about radiation, even if they take long trips. Even the longest international flight will expose a passenger to no more than 15 percent of the recommended annual radiation limits.
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