FLYING in Pregnancy

A resume of the evidence compiled by Neil Pattison

There is general agreement that flying and all that it entails does not harm the pregnant woman nor her baby.  The altitude, air pressure, humidity changes do not cause harm at any time during pregnancy.
Airlines however may be disrupted if labour should coincidentally occur, hence sensible timing in the last trimester should be followed. Some airlines have specific limit so after 28 weeks especially for longer (>3hour) flights I recommend you enquire before booking.  For holiday breaks one should consider also medical facilities at destination ie East Coast of Australia compared to Fiji.

Common symptoms

 Leg swelling due to prolonged sitting, nasal congestion due to the humidity changes and travel sickness are more common with air travel for the pregnant woman.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

There is a small increased risk in this life threatening condition by flying at any time in pregnancy. Especially for women with a previous history, specific risk factors and is proportional to the length of the flight.  It is generally only a risk with flights longer than 4 hours.  This risk occurs at all times during and immediately after (6weeks) of pregnancy.
Sensible Precautions:

Wear loose fitting shoes
Take your own water bottle onboard and drink regularly
Follow in seat exercises

Additional precautions for flights over 4 hours:

Low dose aspirin 75mg starting 4 days before flight, while you are away and for 4 days after return
Compression stocking

Consider also:

Take your medical notes with you
Ask about travel insurance
After 28 weeks we can provide a medical letter whenever needed

Additional information is available from the Royal College of Obstetricians

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