The Plane Truth
With a few precautions, you can continue to fly when pregnant.
Contrary to popular opinion, noise vibration, cosmic radiation and cabin pressure pose no increased risks for the pregnant air traveler, according to ACOG. And if you were concerned that security equipment could “radiate” or somehow hurt your baby, set those fears aside. “Metal detectors are not a risk to the baby,” Artal says.
Making travel even safer> One issue of concern for all air travelers is the formation of blood clots, or thrombosis, especially during long flights. Pregnant women should take special precautions to minimize risks. Try wearing support stockings and/or moving your lower extremities every half-hour or so. “Wiggle your toes,” Artal suggests, “move your legs around, and take a stroll up the cabin every once in a while.” Drink plenty of water throughout the flight to avoid dehydration, and stay away from gas-producing foods and drinks to decrease gastrointestinal discomfort, which can be worsened by cabin pressure and exacerbated by pregnancy.
While many people take vacations to relax, the stress of travel itself might factor into your decision to book that ticket. Some studies have shown a possible link between stress and premature labor, according to Judith Hibbard, M.D., a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago. So make every effort to minimize the stress associated with travel: Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare, or pay extra for a direct flight instead of choosing a cheaper one that requires you to change planes.
So what might have accounted for my own post-travel bleeding? I don’t know, but there’s a good chance it was completely unrelated to my trip. “There are so many reasons a woman could bleed during pregnancy,” Hibbard says, “but even so, traveling isn’t for everyone. It comes down to common sense. Check with your doctor first; if you have a history of health troubles, you need to rethink why you’re hopping on a plane.”