Who hasn’t heard about a woman who delivered her baby on board of an
airplane? But that this is not the norm, and it happens so rarely, that
it usually makes the newspaper or your evening TV news.
The onset of labor while in the air is usually not due to the flying itself, but to the unpredictability of when labor begins. The closer you are to your due date, the more likely labor is going to happen.
Way back when commercial air flights began, there were initially concerns about changes of air pressure inside the cabins and exposure to radiation when you are high up in the air. Nowadays, cabins are well pressurized, and do not change that much, and exposure to radiation is less of a concern.
In the first trimester, concerns of potential pregnancy complications include miscarriage or harm to the developing fetus. Flying has not been shown to increase either risk.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) feels that air travel is not harmful to a pregnant woman or her fetus. ACOG suggests that the best time to travel is from the fourth through the sixth month of pregnancy, because by this time your body has adjusted to pregnancy, you probably have more energy, and morning sickness is usually no longer a problem. ACOG does not don’t deter women from flying in the first trimester.
The rule of thumb for both domestic and foreign trips, or for that matter for anything you do in pregnancy is to follow your body's signals. Your own physical feelings are among the best guides to your well-being and safety--on the road as well as at home.
Air travel can be very tiring, and there are several suggestions to make it less stressful.
*When making reservations, be selective in your scheduling, you may want to consider the amount of time it takes for you to reach your destination.. Make sure you follow the most direct route, to decrease the total time you are in the air.
*Keep your travel plans as flexible as possible. Problems can develop prior to your departure that may require cancellation of your trip.
Although travel during pregnancy is safe in most cases, it is not recommended for women who have serious health problems that need special medical care.
If you have a “high risk pregnancy” you should discuss with your provider whether flying is a good idea.
The vast majority of women can travel safely until close to their due date if they follow a few simple guidelines.
If you are unsure about whether travel is safe for you, ask your doctor.