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What you need to know about flying while pregnant

Katherine Martinelli is an internationally published food and travel writer and photographer who contributes regularly to publications on three continents. She recently released her first cookbook, Puff Pastry at Brunch: 10 Sweet and Sa...

Baby on board

As long as your doctor gives the OK, it's safe for most pregnant women to fly until a certain point. Find out how late into the pregnancy you can fly, what you can do to make your trip more comfortable and other tips for flying while pregnant.
Pregnant woman at airport

Although people used to believe that women shouldn't fly at any stage of their pregnancy, current research shows that as long as mother and baby are healthy, flying presents few health risks. Here's what you need to keep in mind.

Get tips for staying comfortable while flying >>

Check with your doctor

If you are thinking about flying while pregnant, check with your doctor before making any travel arrangements. She will have the best assessment of whether it is a good idea for you based on a variety of factors. While you're there, get a note giving approval as some airlines require such documentation.

Check with your airline

If you get the go ahead from your doctor, next check with your airline. Each carrier has specific rules and regulations that determine how late into your pregnancy you can fly, if they require a doctor's note, etc. These often vary even further based on the length of the flight, whether you are expecting twins (or more!) and other considerations.

Frequent flier

If you only fly once or twice during your pregnancy, there are usually no added complications. However, frequent fliers, in particular flight attendants and pilots, may be exposed to certain amounts of radiation that are considered more harmful during pregnancy. Again, check with a doctor if you plan on traveling by air often while pregnant.

What you need to know about flying while pregnant and radiation >>

When to fly

Although most airlines allow pregnant women to fly until 36 weeks, the second trimester (18 to 24 weeks) is the ideal time to travel by air when pregnant. Earlier and there's a higher risk of miscarriage generally, plus morning sickness can be exacerbated by air travel. Later and there's a risk of premature labor — either on the plane or before your return flight.

Tip: Alert the flight staff that you are pregnant, especially if you are not yet showing.


Circulation

One of the most important things to keep in mind when flying while pregnant is that pregnant women often have poor circulation, which can lead to blood clots. Wear compression stockings, which help promote blood flow and circulation. Also walk around every half hour or so to stretch your legs and get the blood moving.

Stay comfortable

If you can afford it, now is the time to splurge for that seat in business or first class. If you stick to economy, try to get a seat with extra legroom and choose an aisle seat so you can get up as often as you like. Drink plenty of water throughout the flight to prevent dehydration. Finally, if you are prone to nausea, try wearing sea bands to ward it off.

More pregnancy tips

Pregnancy travel: Planning a babymoon
Cruising while pregnant: Safety tips for expecting moms
Spa treatments while pregnant: Satefy tips

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