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Air travel during pregnancy: Is it safe?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/air-travel-during-pregnancy/AN00398
- With Mayo Clinic obstetrician and medical editor-in-chief
Roger W. Harms, M.D.read biographyclose window
Roger W. Harms, M.D.Roger W. Harms, M.D.
"Nothing helps people stay healthy more than the power of real knowledge about health." — Dr. Roger Harms
As medical director of content, Dr. Roger Harms is excited about the potential for Mayo Clinic's health information site to help educate people about their health and provide them the tools and information to live healthier lives.
The Auburn, Neb., native has been with Mayo Clinic since 1981 and is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Harms is a practicing physician and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and his specialty areas include office gynecology, high-risk obstetrics and obstetrical ultrasound.
From 2002 to 2007, Dr. Harms was director for education at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dr. Harms was the 1988 Mayo Medical School Teacher of the Year and served as associate dean for student affairs and academic affairs. He is the co-author of the "Mayo Clinic Model of Education." In 2008, Dr. Harms was presented the Distinguished Educator Award, Mayo Clinic, Rochester.
Dr. Harms is vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and medical editor of the Pregnancy section on this website. In addition, Dr. Harms is editor-in-chief of the "Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy" book, a month-by-month guide to everything a woman needs to know about having a baby.
"My medical education experience has grown out of a love of teaching, and that is what this site is about," Dr. Harms says. "If any visitor to this site makes a more informed and thus more comfortable decision about his or her health because of the information we provide, we are successful."
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Air travel during pregnancy: Is it safe?
Is it safe to fly during pregnancy?
from Roger W. Harms, M.D.
Generally, commercial air travel during pregnancy is considered safe for women who have healthy pregnancies. Still, if you're pregnant, it's best to check with your health care provider before you fly.
Your health care provider might caution against air travel if your pregnancy is considered high risk or you're at risk of preterm labor. Similarly, your health care provider might restrict travel of any type after 36 weeks of pregnancy.
If your health care provider approves air travel and you have flexibility in your travel plans, the best time to fly might be in the middle of your pregnancy — about weeks 14 to 28. This is when you're likely to feel your best, and the risks of miscarriage and premature labor are the lowest.
When you fly:
- Check the airline's policy about air travel during pregnancy. Guidelines for pregnant women might vary by carrier and destination.
- Choose your seat carefully. For the most space and comfort, consider requesting an aisle seat.
- Buckle up. During the trip, fasten the lap belt under your abdomen.
- Promote circulation. If possible, take occasional walks up and down the aisle. If you must remain seated, flex and extend your ankles often.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Low humidity in the cabin can lead to dehydration.
Decreased air pressure during flight can slightly reduce the amount of oxygen in your blood, but this doesn't pose risks if you're otherwise healthy.
Likewise, the radiation exposure associated with air travel at high altitudes isn't thought to be problematic for most business or leisure travelers who fly during pregnancy.
There's a caveat for frequent fliers, though.
Pilots, flight attendants and others who fly steadily might be exposed to a level of cosmic radiation that raises questions during pregnancy. If you must fly frequently during your pregnancy, discuss it with your health care provider. He or she might limit your total flight time during pregnancy.Next question
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- Lockwood CJ, et al. Initial prenatal assessment and patient education. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Nov. 29, 2012.
- Prout M, et al. Preflight patient assessment. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Nov. 29, 2012.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Practice Bulletins — Obstetrics. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 443: Air Travel During Pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2009;114:954.