All you need to know about traveling while pregnant

All you need to know about traveling while pregnant
Published : October 23 , 2019
Latest Update : May 19 , 2022
an obstetrician and gynecologist with a special interest in fetal medicine, nutrition and humanitarian activities, she worked previously as an obstetrician for 4... more

Planning to travel while pregnant should be considered carefully and more importantly done based on your doctor’s approval and review.

First of all, you should know when it is suitable for you to travel!

If you are pregnant with a single baby, then travelling any time before 37 weeks gestation is appropriate as long as your pregnancy is smooth with no special complications. But, if you are pregnant with twins, then travelling any time before 32 weeks gestation is more suitable for uncomplicated pregnancies.

It’s advised to take this step into consideration when you plan to travel, as flying while pregnant might increase the risk to having problems in four main areas, which are:

  1. Pregnancy sickness: if you have ever experienced motion sickness you are more likely to get the same feelings of nausea and vertigo on an airplane
  2. Legs swelling : this is most likely to occur during long flights due to long period of immobility which is an uncomfortable sensation.
  3. Nasal congestion or pain in ears: you might have a blocked nose, pain in ears due to changes in air pressure.
  4. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): it is the formation of a clot in your leg veins leading to blockage, pain and redness. This could be life threatening in some situation where the clot may block the vessels in your lungs!

In this case, your doctor might prescribe some injections called “Heparin”, it thins your blood to decrease the chance of clotting. Make sure you get a written report from your doctor for security reasons at the airport.

The injection is usually taken on the same date as your flight and you will continue taking it afterwards for few days. Your midwife should teach you how to use them before you travel.

These problems might leave you feeling frightened to travel, but don’t worry you can do several things that can reduce the chance or feeling any of them.

Just follow the below steps and enjoy your flight:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
  • Keep moving! Try to book an aisle seat so you can get up and walk regularly. Otherwise there are many in place feet exercise to help you keep the circulation in your legs going.
  • Make sure you are well hydrated: sip a glass of water at regular intervals throughout your journey. Also, try your best to avoid caffeinated drinks and carbonated ones.
  • Wear graduated elastic compression stockings: just tell your doctor or midwife about the plans and they will direct you to the best size and type of stockings.

Having mentioned all of the above, it brings us to the things you need to bring with you to the airport:

  • Bring your pregnancy notes and any document that prove your due date, some airlines might check your pregnancy date and request these documents.
  • Bring any medication that you take, preferably with your doctor prescription.
  • Travel insurance documents.

Now, is it possible that your doctor advises that you do not fly at all?

This could happen, yes. However, this is completely different from mother to another depending on different factors:

  • If you have medical problems with your heart or lungs.
  • If you have severe anemia.
  • If there is a high chance that you may give birth soon.
  • If you had a recent vaginal bleeding diagnosed by your obstetrician.

Going through security check at the airport is considered to be completely safe, no studies have proven otherwise.

If you are worried you go into labor while travelling, some airlines attendants are coached on delivering babies, however in some cases, pilots will do their best and divert the flight for you to receive the best care.

Any event could happen while travelling, these categories are not exclusive. What I recommend is that you visit your midwife or your doctor and discuss your plans thoroughly as they are in the best position to advise and give you a personalized opinion that suits you.


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