Pregnant and Traveling? What You Should Know

Off We Go: Pregnant Women and Air Travel

If you're healthy, you're probably safe to fly well into pregnancy -- at least through the 36th week. This may surprise some, but a few common worries are actually unfounded. There's no evidence that the metal detector at the security checkpoint poses a risk to you or your unborn child. If you're worried, however, you may ask for a hand or wand search.

Some people worry about low air pressure and reduced oxygen when flying at high altitudes. Commercial airplanes are well pressurized, and the body adjusts to slight differences in pressure, so there should be no problem. You might want to avoid flying in small aircraft that aren't so well pressurized, however, especially at altitudes of more than 7,000 feet (2,134 meters).

Another concern is increased exposure to radiation at higher altitudes. Luckily, that's nothing to worry about if you fly only occasionally.

There are some good tips to keep in mind if you're going to fly:

  • Check with your doctor first.
  • Check with the airline. Some have rules regarding pregnancy and travel. Make sure that you ask about meals as well.
  • Take healthy snacks with you.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Try for an aisle seat near a bathroom. You don't want to have to squeeze in and out past other passengers. A seat near the front of the plane may give you a smoother ride.
  • Plan to stand, stretch and walk at least once an hour.
  • When walking, steady yourself by holding onto the backs of aisle seats as you pass.
  • Gas expands in lower air pressure, so avoid carbonated drinks and foods that cause stomach gas before and during flights.
  • Wear your seatbelt, except when you get up.

Going by train or ship? Keep reading.