Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, most doctors agree it’s safe for pregnant women to fly up to 4 or 5 weeks prior to their due date. That’s as long as the pregnancy is healthy with no known complications, such as risks for pre-term labor.
“Flying is actually safer than driving,” said Dr. Melissa Mancuso, director of Akron Children’s Hospital’s fetal treatment center. “Plus, when flying you’re not cramped and seated in one position as long, which can put you at risk for blood clots.”
Even though your doctor gives you the okay to fly, check with the airlines’ policies. Most allow women to fly up until 36 weeks of gestation, but individual policies vary.
That cutoff time is not because flying can cause problems as your due date nears — it’s just best to stay close to home and your doctor in case you deliver. In addition, you don’t want to go into labor on the plane when you’re out of reach of medical care.
Ask your obstetrician to help you find a provider at your destination in case you need medical attention during your vacation. Carry a complete list of emergency contacts and, if you’re in your second or third trimester, a copy of your prenatal chart and blood work, as well.
To make sure your flight is as safe as possible, you might want to wear support stockings and move your lower legs regularly. Also, get out of your seat every hour to promote blood circulation and help prevent blood clots.
You also should drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids in order to stay well hydrated, and wear your seatbelt in case of turbulence.
“If you can, choose an aisle seat so you can get up more easily to use the bathroom and stretch your legs,” said Dr. Mancuso.