Pregnancy & Flying Get the All-clear

09.24.09 Expert guidelines OK air travel at all stages for low-risk pregnant women

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Good news as the holiday season approaches: A woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy does not have to worry while flying in an airplane, HealthDay News and Yahoo! Health report. According to a new opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), studies have shown no higher risk of adverse effects in moms-to-be who travel by airplane.

However, high-risk expectant women with complications that may require emergency care or might be worsened by air travel should not fly at any time during their pregnancy. The authors of the updated recommendations, published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, noted, "Pregnant women should be informed that the most common obstetric emergencies occur in the first and third trimesters."

The opinion did outline steps that moms-to-be can take to make air travel safer, such as always wearing a seat belt in case of turbulence, wearing support stockings, moving their legs and walking around at times to reduce the risk of blood clots; avoiding restrictive clothing and staying hydrated. Also, the author advised avoiding gas-producing foods and drinks before boarding because the gases will expand in the stomach and cause discomfort as altitude increases. The ACOG panel also emphasized that when it comes to the issue of cosmic radiation on flights, the risk to the fetus is very minor and not a concern (although our experts beg to differ on the risk of exposure).

With these few precautions and our savvy tips, you can certainly continue to fly while you've got baby on board. But as our Ask the Labor Nurse blogger says, there's "safe" and then there's "comfortable." Although most airlines allow pregnant women to fly up to 36 weeks, restrictions may vary so make sure you check with the carrier before flying.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.