Can flying cause miscarriage: precautions to take

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Many aviation health experts and healthcare specialists agree that pregnant women and their unborn children face no particular risks when flying commercially. However, this statement only applies to healthy pregnancies. What about pregnant women who have underlying medical conditions? Is it dangerous for them to fly? Can it result in a miscarriage? This article helps unravel the true from the false when it comes to air travel and pregnancy.

Can flying cause miscarriage: the top things to know when flying when pregnant

  • There is no concrete evidence that flying endangers the fetus or the expectant mother's health in case of a normal pregnancy. Furthermore, there is no evidence that flying causes miscarriages, premature labor, or uterine rupture.
  • Expectant mothers may find flying uncomfortable during certain stages of their pregnancy. Because of the pressure changes caused by this congestion, they may experience pregnancy sickness, swollen legs, nasal congestion, or ear pain.
  • Women who are considered high-risk for miscarriage or have a history of miscarriage should postpone first-trimester travel plans until they receive the "all clear" from their ob-gyn.

True or False: Flying can cause a miscarriage

Is the tropical sun beckoning you and your baby bump? Getting on a plane and flying for hours on end is generally considered more of a nuisance than a health risk. However, when it comes to a woman traveling for two, the stakes are a little higher.

For decades, scientists have speculated that long-haul flights may increase the risk of complications and miscarriage during pregnancy, arguing that increased exposure to radiation, low oxygen levels, and other conditions aboard some aircraft may harm a developing fetus. A few recent studies have investigated the claim, but none have been able to confirm it.

So, what is the answer to the question, “Can flying cause miscarriage”?
If you have a normal pregnancy, then the most common answer is ‘No, flying will not cause a miscarriage’. However, the situation is different if you have complications or are a higher risk of miscarriage. Get the advise of your doctor before flying. 

pregnant woman in airplane

According to an extensive study on air travel and pregnancy, published in 2015 by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of the United Kingdom, “flying does not endanger the health of the fetus or the expectant mother. There is also no evidence that flying causes miscarriages, early labor, or uterine rupture.”

Air travel is the safest mode of transportation for pregnant women, according to the research. A change in humidity or air pressure will not harm the baby. Similarly, a slight increase in radiation during infrequent flights is not considered hazardous to either the mother or her child. This, however, only applies to healthy women who are carrying a normal pregnancy.

When is the safest time to fly during your pregnancy? Tips to fly safely!

At certain stages of their pregnancy, expectant mothers may find flying uncomfortable. For example, they may experience pregnancy sickness, swollen legs, nasal congestion, or ear pain because of the pressure changes caused by this congestion.

Can you fly at one, two or three months pregnant (first trimester)?

There is no evidence that flying causes miscarriage during the first trimester, even though the fetus is most vulnerable until after the 12th week of pregnancy.

Caution: If a complication arises during your flight, keep in mind that there will be no on-board medical assistance available.

1st month: There are no obvious physical changes or actual physiological disruptions at this stage, so you can travel without putting your child's development at risk.

2nd month: Air travel is not contraindicated, but keep in mind that flying during this stage of pregnancy is not always pleasant and can be stressful. Symptoms such as heartburn, bloating, heavy fatigue, and nausea tend to increase tenfold during the flight.

3rd month: Flying is not a problem at this stage of pregnancy. However, nausea and vomiting are common during the third month, which can worsen with altitude and make flying uncomfortable. Furthermore, your uterus, which has grown to the size of a grapefruit, presses against your bladder, increasing the frequency with which you must urinate.

commercial flight

It is important to note that while the risk of miscarriage is higher during the first trimester of pregnancy, the plane has no effect on this.

Can you fly at four, five or six months pregnant (second trimester)?

If you're planning a trip during your second trimester, you're in luck - it's considered the safest time to fly. This is primarily because the second trimester has a lower risk of pregnancy-related complications, including miscarriage, than the first and third trimesters.

4th month: Usually, at this point in your pregnancy, you are feeling less tired, less nauseous, and vomiting is a distant memory. This is an excellent time to fly! Stay hydrated, stretch your legs every hour, and sit comfortably in your seat to enjoy the flight.

5th month: Your fetus is always moving! The only disadvantage is that their sleeping hours may differ from yours or from your flight schedule. Consider booking a seat with lots of legroom. Sleep is essential whenever there is a chance to relax.

6th month: Pregnant women can travel by air without restriction. However, from the 23rd week onwards, expectant mothers are prone to hot flashes and excessive sweating. Remember to dress comfortably in light and loose clothing. Make regular round trips between the front and back of the aircraft during the flight to stretch your legs and increase blood circulation.

Can you fly at seven, eight or nine months pregnant (third trimester)?

It is safe to fly during the third trimester, but you should avoid doing so after 37 weeks, or 32 weeks in the case of an uncomplicated twin pregnancy. This is because you could go into labor at any time after those dates.

Important: Always check with your airline before flying. Many airlines place restrictions on pregnant women traveling after 28 weeks.

7th month: The baby will be unaffected by the trip. Before booking airline tickets, purchase health and repatriation insurance as a precaution. Fasten your seat belt under your abdomen. Place a cushion between the lower belt strap and your baby bump to avoid pressure on the uterus. Sit in your seat with your legs extended, so you can move your ankles and toes. Try to walk as much as possible during the flight.

8th month: Your child is all set to point the tip of his nose. If you want to fly at this point in your pregnancy, consult with your doctor or midwife to ensure you'll be able to do so.

9th month: The World Health Organization (WHO) advises pregnant women not to fly after the 36th week of pregnancy, or 4 weeks before the due date. Because labor can start at any time during the last few weeks, it is best to avoid traveling during this time.

Did you know that? Flying at the end of a pregnancy is not advised, not because of an increased risk of water ruptures at altitude, but because the delivery may be triggered prematurely.

What are the risks associated with flying while pregnant?

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in your leg or pelvis. It can be fatal if it travels to your heart (heart attack) or your lungs (pulmonary embolism).

deep vein thrombosis

Because of the prolonged sitting, there is an increased risk of developing a DVT while flying. The risk of DVT also increases as the flight lengthens. If you have additional risk factors, such as a previous DVT or being overweight, your risk is heightened.

Caution: When you are pregnant and for up to 6 weeks after your baby is born, you are at a higher risk of developing a DVT than other women. Your doctor or midwife can assess your personal risk of developing DVT and advise you on flying.

How to reduce your risk of DVT while flying when pregnant?

It is unlikely that you will need to take any special precautions if you are flying for less than four hours. To reduce the risk of DVT on a medium or long-haul flight (more than four hours), you should:

  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine-containing beverages;
  • Invest in graduated elastic compression stockings;
  • Dress comfortably. Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes;
  • Drink plenty of water at regular intervals throughout your flight;
  • Try to get an aisle seat and walk around the plane every 30 minutes or so. Do in-seat exercises every 30 minutes or so.

Are there any circumstances when flying is not advised during pregnancy?

Once a heartbeat is detected on ultrasound at around 6 or 7 weeks of a pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage decreases significantly, making travel less stressful. Women who are considered high-risk for miscarriage or who have a history of miscarriage, on the other hand, may want to postpone first-trimester travel plans until they receive the "all clear" from their ob-gyn.

A medical condition or health issue can complicate your pregnancy and endanger both you and your baby. As a result, if any of the following apply, you should avoid flying:

  • You have severe anemia;
  • You have sickle cell disease;
  • You have an increased chance of miscarriage;
  • You have recently had significant vaginal bleeding;
  • You are at increased risk of going into labor before your due date;
  • You have a previous history of ectopic pregnancy (request an ultrasound before flying), pelvic inflammatory disease or documented tubal pathology
  • You have a serious condition affecting your lungs or heart that makes it very difficult for you to breathe;

Did you know that? Flying is not recommended for patients suffering from serious lung conditions such as COPD, pneumonia, or pneumothorax.

Commercial Medical Escort- A cost-effective solution for a safe flight!

With decades of experience providing air ambulance services, we can handle the most complex and critical cases while also providing the safest and most cost-effective solution for transporting expecting mothers safely to their destination.

medical escort

To that end, we offer commercial medical escort services for patients who don't need a full air ambulance but still need medical supervision while flying commercially. When the patient is fit to fly, these services are available for all domestic and international commercial flights.

We can assist the patient and their family schedule an appropriate commercial flight, purchase tickets, arrange ground transportation, and file the necessary paperwork with the airlines.

The patient will be accompanied on the commercial flight by a member of our highly skilled medical crew who has received extensive training in altitude and physiology, as well as safety in that environment.

If you or a loved one is interested in a medical escort, please contact us right away!

Air ambulances – Your safest way to fly while being pregnant!

Since our inception, we have been providing air medical transportation to patients, ranging from basic intra-state air ambulance transports to international medical flights. We specialize in transporting patients with the same level of care as a hospital ICU to and from hospitals, rehabilitation centers, specialized care facilities, and private residences.

Our medically configured ambulance jets are equipped with cutting-edge medical technology, and our medical flight teams have the most advanced training and experience in treating pregnant women. Each air medical transport has, at least, a two-person crew that includes a critical care trained flight doctor and a flight paramedic or pregnancy-related therapist.

ambulance jet

We recognize that selecting an ambulance service can be a difficult and perplexing decision. We are dedicated to treating our patients like members of our own family. We will manage and organize all aspects of transportation. Our crews will accompany the patient from the time they are picked up until they arrive at their destination with our bedside-to-bedside service.

The benefits of chartering an ambulance jet with us include:

  • Medically configured medical jets;
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Contact us for a free quote now!

Are you looking for an air ambulance service to arrange a long-distance patient transportation? Please get in touch with our multilingual team so we can advise you on the best mode of transportation for your needs. Our helpful experts will respond as soon as possible to provide you with a free, non-binding quick estimate for your trip.

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