Health & Fitness Medical & Dental

Flying during pregnancy: is it safe?

If you are planning to travel while pregnant, there are important things to consider. In the second instalment in our Living Well series of healthy living tips from Bupa Global, we look at whether flying during pregnancy is safe, with Dr Tim Ross of Bupa Australia.

You should give careful consideration to flying during pregnancy
You should give careful consideration to flying during pregnancy

Fit to fly?

Many women need to travel while pregnant; some for work, others for pleasure. Dr Tim Ross, National Medical Director at Bupa Australia, has some tips on flying during pregnancy to help you stay safe and comfortable. The general recommendation is to plan any flights for the second trimester (between 13 and 24 weeks) if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy. Earlier is fine, though, and many women fly before they realise they are pregnant. There are a couple of key issues to consider when flying in the first trimester: exhaustion and morning sickness can both make travel more difficult. Dr Ross suggests that, as a precaution, you should ensure you have both medical and personal support (or know where to find them) at your destination should you need them.

If you’re likely to be travelling after the 28-week mark, you’re likely to be carrying more weight than normal, which can make flying during pregnancy uncomfortable and tiring. Airline policies on pregnancy may differ, and you will need to check with the airline before you travel. The cut-off depends on the length of the flight, how far along you are and whether or not you have had complications. Some countries also require you to carry a letter from your doctor certifying that you’re fit to fly. Dr Ross recommends that you consult your doctor if you’re at all concerned about flying during pregnancy, as they can advise you on what’s best for you and your unborn baby. They can also give you tips to make the journey as safe as possible.

Pregnancy is not the time for intrepid travel
Pregnancy is not the time for intrepid travel

Other considerations

Pregnancy is generally not the time for intrepid travel. Dr Ross suggests avoiding going anywhere too remote, because it’s important to have access to reliable medical help if you need it. Also, avoid areas where diseases such as malaria and the Zika virus may be encountered. If you require vaccinations for the country you’re visiting, it’s best to get them before you become pregnant.

If you must travel, Dr Ross’s last piece of advice is to research your destination and requirements thoroughly if you’re going to travel when pregnant. He says, “You really want to make sure you’re flying to fairly familiar surroundings where you don’t need any vaccinations, you know what the medical resources are, and you can get medical assistance if you run into trouble.” The doctor also recommends that you have appropriate medical travel insurance that covers pregnancy-related issues so you’re supported should anything unforeseen happen.

This article was brought to you by Bupa Global.

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This article first appeared in the Aug/Sep edition of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.

Missed the first article in our Living Well series? Body boost: 5 tips to avoid getting sick on holidays