Commercial air travel prior to the 36th week of pregnancy is considered safe if your condition isn’t exacerbated by other medical problems. Every carrier has its own policy for pregnant fliers, but most cap safe travel at 36 weeks. In recent years, the medical community has begun to recommend pregnant women not to fly during their first trimester due to morning sickness. The second trimester is considered the safest for long flights. Even if your doctor gives you the green light, you will have to follow your airline’s rules about this health aspect.
Making Travel Comfortable
Cabins are their own biomes, with everything from cabin pressure to altitude affecting your comfort and health risks. Low humidity can cause dryness, so drink plenty of fluids when you fly. Entrapped gases can be uncomfortable at higher altitudes, so avoid carbonated drinks and foods that will worsen the problem. Circulation is one of the most important facets to monitor, so it is advisable to wear loose-fitting clothes and compression stockings on your flight. Regular walks down the aircraft aisle will improve blood flow, as will frequent stretching.
Before you fly, ask your doctor to prescribe safe nausea medication. You may require medical care at your destination, so it is worthwhile to arrange the names of obstetricians and hospitals in the country you’re visiting before you leave.
While most airlines restrict air travel to those who are less than 36 weeks pregnant, policies vary from carrier to carrier. If you have medical or obstetric conditions that could need emergency healthcare, or be worsened by flying, it’s best to save that overseas trip for later. Some airlines require a medical certificate for anyone who is 15 to 28 days away from their due date, while others require one within four weeks. Airlines such as Air France allow pregnant travellers to fly beyond 36 weeks provided they are carrying a medical certificate.
Cabin pressure, increased heart rates, and raised blood pressure can exacerbate certain pregnancy-related conditions. Immobilisation carries its own risk, so if you can book a bulkhead or first-class seat, do so. This will give you the room to keep your legs moving and let you elevate them in between. Regardless of how well you fly, it is advisable to check in with a doctor just before you fly and when you land. If you run into medical problems on the plane, or at the airport, your loved ones will need to be informed. As with everything, there are apps for that. HealthTAP, WebMD, and ICE can store your pre-existing medical conditions, medications, and phone numbers for easy access.
Travelling is stressful enough without the financial drawbacks involved in a missed connection or lost luggage. If you are unjustly denied boarding, the EU Regulation EC261/2004 has your back. Extraordinary circumstances are not covered by compensation law, so if your missed flight is due to unavoidable security risks, political unrest, or strikes, you will need to rely on your travel insurance. That said, the law covers delays for travellers using EU carriers or who are travelling to or from an EU destination. If you miss your flight due to overbooking, you have a right to between €250 and €600 per person in compensation too. Short distance delays are allocated €250 in compensation, while long-distance delays are compensated up to €600. If your flight is delayed for any reason, fill out a compensation form and file a claim straight away.