There Are Times When It Is Safe And Times When It Isn't.

There are times when it is safe to travel while pregnant and when it's not. David M. Barrere, MD, FACOG, explains.
David Barrere, MD

Your question
Is it safe to travel on a plane during pregnancy?

The expert answers
Travel during pregnancy can be quite safe and uneventful provided that certain precautions are met.

1) Most airlines have restrictions for pregnant travelers. Most prohibit travel beyond 36 weeks and many request a letter from a physician beyond 20 weeks.

2) For longer journeys, getting up to walk every two hours helps to reduce the risk of blood clots in the legs. Most likely, a pregnant woman's bladder will force her to get up at least that often.

3) Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Often with hectic travel schedules, people tend to eat poorly and drink little, if any, water. Taking bottled water with you can be beneficial.

4) Check with your physician prior to travel. For those people with high-risk pregnancies -- pre-term labor, pre-eclampsia, etc.), travel is not advisable. A pelvic examination is a very good idea prior to leaving. For those situations in which late pregnancy travel cannot be avoided, carrying a copy of the prenatal records is advisable.

5) For international travel, check the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention to see if any vaccinations are advisable. Some vaccines are contraindicated in pregnancy (live virus, live bacteria), while others can safely be taken (Hepatitis B, meningococcal).

Airline metal detectors are not a concern. However, the "X-ray" machines used to inspect carry-on baggage do use ionizing radiation, which can be harmful. However, routine baggage checking would not put the pregnant woman in harm's


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