Is It Risky to Fly While Pregnant?

Up and Away! Tips to Make Flying More Comfortable

So your healthcare provider has given you the green light to travel; now let's look at some of the logistics to make your trip as comfortable and safe as possible. Among the most common problems that can happen to anyone who gets on a plane, particularly during pregnancy, are swelling and circulation problems.
 
A woman's blood volume nearly doubles during pregnancy, which puts more of a workload on the heart and circulatory system. Even a healthy person who is in a seated position for extended periods on a plane may experience swelling of the legs and feet due to the blood pooling in the leg veins. This also increases the pressure in the veins of the legs. If swelling can occur in a healthy person, imagine the swelling that can happen in a pregnant woman with double the blood volume!
 
What's of more concern than simply the swelling is the potentially increased risk for a blood clot. In particular, pregnant women have an increased risk for developing deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), a type of blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the leg. The longer the flight, the more of a risk for clots. Although these clots may dissolve on their own in some cases, some of these clots may travel to your lungs, causing a potentially deadly pulmonary embolism (PE).
 
Some warning signs of a blood clot may include:
 
  • Swelling of the leg, ankle, or calf
  • Increased warmth over the skin
  • Redness or discoloration.
 
There are several ways you can help minimize swelling and your risk for blood clots while flying. Some of these tips include:
 
  • Get up! Take regular breaks to get up and walk around during the flight.
  • Flex your feet and roll your ankles while you are sitting in your seat.
  • Try wearing compression stockings. They can help keep the blood flowing in your legs.
  • Drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothes while flying to avoid restricting blood flow.
 
As another noteworthy tip, make sure to fly on major airlines that have pressurized cabins. If you must fly on a smaller, private plane, avoid altitudes above 7,000 feet. The ACOG also recommends that pregnant women keep their seatbelts fastened at all times while they are in their seats (belted low on the hipbones and below the belly) so they can be prepared for any turbulence that might occur.
 
Pregnancy and Pain

Pregnancy Info

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