Doctor, can I fly during pregnancy?

Answers to questions about flying during pregnancy
Is it OK to fly during pregnancy: Delaware Valley OBGYN blog

Everyone, or almost everyone, likes to get away from town for a while. It could be a vacation, a business trip or a family emergency. Either way, getting on airplane is a cause for anxiety for many pregnant women (and their partners).  Questions about flying during pregnancy are among the most common questions that Obstetricians and Midwives are asked. 

It is always a good idea to ask your OB or midwife for advice. This website is not a substitute for good medical advice. 

Here are answers to some basic questions about airplane travel during pregnancy.

Is it OK to get on airplane during pregnancy?

Generally yes. It is probably not a good idea to go to far away from home as you get close to your due date, and it is likely your airline carrier will not allow you to board if you are too far along. It is probably a good idea to stay close to home as well early in pregnancy if you are at risk for miscarriage or an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.

Are there risks to my health if I fly during pregnancy?

Everyone who flies is at risk for developing blood clots in the veins, and women who are pregnant are at an even higher risk. Keeping well hydrated and keeping your legs moving are important to keep that risk to a minimum. There is also exposure to radiation which is higher in the upper atmosphere than it is at sea level. Flying exposes you to a similar amount of radiation as an x-ray study, but it is unclear if there is any risk to you or your unborn baby.

Are there particular types of airplanes to avoid?

Most modern jets have pressurized cabins so the amount of oxygen makes them safe to travel in when pregnant. Small prop planes without pressurized cabins should be avoided.

Are there places that I should not fly when pregnant?

This is a discussion you should have with your OB or Midwife, and if you are going to a more exotic location, with a travel medicine or infectious disease specialist as well. Many parts of the world have endemic diseases that affect your health and your unborn baby's health. Many less exotic, tropical or subtropical areas have a problem with the Zika virus, and you should avoid these areas. The CDC has more information.