Traveling while you are pregnant can be an enormous hassle. However, you don’t necessarily want to miss out on experiences and opportunities just because you’re bearing a child. In some cases, travel is mandatory and pregnant women just have to try and prepare as best they can. Preparing for travel as a pregnant woman essentially involves preparing for the unexpected. You won’t be able to travel as lightly as you used to, as you’ll need all kinds of supplements, medication, comfort pillows and more. When you’re planning to take a trip, you might wonder if traveling by air is a safe option. It is an important question to consider, as the body goes through many changes as it ascends into the air.
A recent study examined the various risks that pregnant women face when they travel by airplane. There is the risk of cosmic radiation, a potential for blood clots due to long periods of sitting, and unexpected bodily changes due to air pressure changes. Of course, there is also the risk that a pregnant woman could go into labor while she is in the air. If there is no doctor on board, this could seriously risk the lives of both the mother and her baby. Finally, there is the risk that a pregnant woman’s condition could make exiting the plane difficult in the event of a serious emergency. However, the study showed that, while the risks certainly exist, they are not likely enough to completely prevent pregnant women from flying. Women should avoid flying after the 36th week of their pregnancy, simply to avoid the risks of going into labor in the air.
There are certainly risks associated with air travel when you are pregnant. However, these risks are really no greater than those associated with traveling by subway or by car. If you need to fly during your pregnancy, don’t worry about what effects it could have on your baby’s development. The air pressure will have no negative effect and the likelihood of your experiencing a problem associated with sitting for a long time could happen anywhere. There are risks all around you whether you are on the ground or in the air, so it shouldn’t interfere with your plans. However, if you are in your 36th week or later, hold off on flying. Going into labor while in the air could be traumatic, if not life threatening.
Source: D Rabinerson et al: Air Travel During Pregnancy. Harefuah Volume 147 Issue 4 pp. 372 April 2008