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Archive for August, 2008

Air travel during pregnancy

Posted by NonToxic House on August 18, 2008

The last thing I thought I’d be doing during my first trimester would be hopping on a plane to spend a week in far Eastern Europe. But I’m heading out. And before I do, I checked in with my doc to make sure it was kosher. Since I don’t have a worrisome history of health complications, she gave me the all clear. Her take is that air travel is fine up through 24 weeks. It’s on a case by case basis after that.

The only increased risk I’d have of traveling by air during pregnancy is one of thrombophlebitis, or blood clots in the veins. It sounds bad and the incidents of blood clots due to air travel are widely publicized. But they are relatively uncommon

Here are some tips on how to prevent them:

  • Take a walk. Get up and take a walk down the aisles, as allowed. At least once an hour.
  • Stretch your calves. If the seatbelt light is lit, you can still flex your calves to keep the blood circulating properly
  • Massage your legs. Reach down and massage your legs regularly. If space allows and your travel companion is willing, ask for a leg massage
  • Drink fluids. Water, water and more water. We all know the dehydrating effects of plane cabins.

And some general tips on traveling while pregnant:

  • Pick an aisle seat; ask for a bulkhead, if possible
  • Carry snacks; stingy airlines probably won’t have what you need
  • Try motion sickness wrist bands
  • Avoid gas-producing foods before a flight; your intensines are naturally slower during pregnancy and air travel exacerbates the effect
  • Avoid fitted clothing and wear comfortable shoes
  • Rather than go through security checkpoint machines, request a hand or wand search. [Note: the machines are said to be safe, but since you will experience some radiation exposure from the atmosphere during flight, why not minimize it overall?] 
  • You might also want to look into compression stockings or support hose 

Of course, check with your doc first. Particulary if you have health complications, a history of difficult pregnancies or if your travel plans include locations where special immunizations are required or food/water quality issues are active. For a more extensive review of travel precautions during pregnancy, here’s an extensive writeup from the CDC.


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