In 2009, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists delivered a statement that air travel during the first trimester is usually safe for most women. Of course, this statement was also tempered with the advice that any pregnant woman should consult her healthcare provider. Since individuals can have individual problems related to pregnancy, it is always important to get the advice of the person following you through your pregnancy. What medical problems and other considerations should you discuss with your doctor before taking off on a flight during your first trimester?
Is It Safe to Fly During First Trimester?
Again, only your healthcare provider can answer this question for you, but the following medical conditions may make your doctor hesitate.
- First, if you have had any pregnancy related problems such as spotting with this pregnancy, your doctor may hesitate to give you his blessing to fly in the first three months.
- If any of your other pregnancies resulted in miscarriage or a premature birth, your doctor may want you to wait to fly.
- If you have diabetes or hypertension, your healthcare provider may put some limits on your flying depending on how well controlled your condition is.
- Diabetes is also a cause for concern to determine if you are fit enough to fly.
Just for your own comfort, the second trimester may be a better time to travel since by that time you are relatively comfortable: if you had morning sickness, it usually stops by the 2nd trimester; you have a lot of energy; and your abdomen is still small so you do not have the bladder pressure you will have in the 3rd trimester. The risks of miscarriage and early labor are lowest in the 2nd trimester, so your doctor may want you to wait a few weeks if possible.
How Can You Make the Flight More Comfortable?
- Pregnant women typically feel more comfortable in an aisle seat where you can get up easily to go to the bathroom and move your legs. It is important to get up and move around especially on long flights to prevent blood clots in your legs. If you are not able to get up and stretch occasionally, be sure to bend your feet up and down at the ankles at least once an hour.
- When you are seated, it is important to stay buckled in with the lap belt very low across your pelvis and under your abdomen.
- Although it is important to stay hydrated when you fly, select your beverages carefully to avoid a full bladder and the nausea that might result from certain drinks. Remember that alcohol and caffeine can both lead to dehydration so avoid those drinks.
- Be sure to empty your bladder as soon as you get on the plane – and regularly after that.
- If you are having nausea, your healthcare provider will be able to recommend a nausea medicine that will be safe for you and the baby.
- Be sure to wear clothes that are comfortable and non-binding. Wear slip on shoes that are comfortable – but that you can remove easily.
There is very little radiation risk for occasional fliers. However, if your job requires you to fly frequently, be sure to let the doctor know and discuss whether or not your flying time should be limited during your first trimester.
Your doctor will also discuss other limitations on flying that may be individualized for you. Specifically, toward the end of your pregnancy your health care provider may want you to stay close to home. Your doctor will probably limit your flying if your pregnancy is at risk for any reason.