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Safe Flying While Pregnant

Get Ready for International Travel

If your destination is international, take some extra precautions.

To avoid the risks of premature labor or health problems, take your trip before the third trimester.

Don't fly internationally if:

  • This is your first pregnancy and you're 35 or older or 15 and younger.
  • You are carrying more than one baby.
  • You have placental abnormalities, now or in the past.
  • You have any vaginal bleeding or risk of miscarriage.

Also do not fly internationally if you have a history of:

  • Miscarriage
  • Ectopic pregnancy
  • Premature labor or premature membrane rupture
  • High blood pressure, diabetes, or preeclampsia in pregnancy

Your doctor will also likely discourage travel:

  • To high altitudes (more than 12,000 feet)
  • To areas with serious disease outbreaks
  • If your destination requires live virus vaccines for protection

 

Keep Risks in Perspective

Though slightly increased, these risks should not be major concerns.

Blood clots. When you are pregnant, sitting in one spot for a long time can cause blood to pool in your legs. That can raise the risk of blood clots. The recirculated cabin air and low humidity add to the risk. However, the risk is still not huge. You can lower this risk by moving around as often as your doctor recommends.

Blood pressure and heart rate. When you're pregnant and fly, your blood pressure and heart rate can go up. But experts say it's typically not enough to put you in any danger.

Body scans. The body scan technology used for security at airports is safe during pregnancy, according to the Transportation Security Administration. But you can request a hand or wand search instead.  

Radiation. The occasional flight doesn't pose a problem for most pregnant women. But if you're a frequent flyer, such as business traveler, pilot, or flight attendant, you might exceed the radiation limit considered safe during pregnancy. Ask your doctor about this.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on February 26, 2013

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