Pregnancy Flying - And Cabin Air Pressure
Grab An Extra Barf Bag
Back in the olden days, pregnancy was thought to be incapacitating to women. They just couldn't do much - at least that was the prevailing attitude. These days, of course, we know that pregnancy is not an illness or a debilitating condition and women are every bit as active as they ever were before they got pregnant, as long as everything is going along well.
Flying was one of those things pregnant women didn't risk, but today, with pressurized cabins and trained flight crews, there is little danger to a pregnant woman if she should fly. There are, of course, some things that can be bothersome. For instance, in the first trimester, the change in air pressure that comes along with flying can enhance some symptoms - like nausea and vomiting. Just grab an extra bag or two in the event your stomach doesn't take too well to the altitude.
Cabin Pressure Effects On Pregnancy
While on the topic of cabin pressure, flying in an unpressurized small plane is not recommended for pregnant women. Commercial aircraft are required to maintain a standard level of pressure that is the equivalent of 5,000 to 8,000 feet - about the same altitude as Denver or other mountain cities. A healthy woman with no pregnancy complications should not encounter any problems. However, the lower air pressure in the cabin can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise in order to accommodate your body's needs for oxygen. If you are anemic, have sickle cell disease, a history of blood clots, or placental insufficiency, adapting to flying could be problematic for both you and the baby and you should avoid flying. If you have to fly, you can get a prescription for supplemental oxygen for the flight.
An unpressurized small plane does not have the same advantages as a commercial airliner. Cruising at an altitude of 10,000 feet in a small plane is about the same as standing on a two-mile-high mountain. The air up there is mighty thin and your body will have to work extremely hard to ensure you're getting enough oxygen. The result can be bleeding and even miscarriage.
Third Trimester Flying
The third trimester is a bit touchy as well and as a rule, it isn't recommended that you fly after your 36th week of gestation. You're at the top of the bell curve of your due date and some things just aren't worth the risk. Of course, if there is no option, a note from your doctor will probably be sufficient to get you onto the plane. If, during the flight you begin to experience contractions, let the flight attendant know. Babies have been born on planes before - but it is more likely the pilot will find an airport to land at in order to ensure both you and your baby have all the care you need.