SingaporeMotherhood | Lifestyle

June 2014

Can I Take a Flight while Pregnant?

Now that you are pregnant, it seems like there are a 101 things you are not supposed to eat or do. No sashimi, no alcohol, reduce caffeine, no roller coaster rides, no saunas… the list goes on. However, there is still one thing that you can and should do if time and finances permit. You can travel overseas for a babymoon. Think of it as one last hurrah at couple-dom before life gets completely turned upside down.

In general, flying while pregnant is permitted provided your doctor has given you the all clear. Dr Christopher Chong of Chris Chong Women and Urogynae Clinic tells us what to take note of if we decide to embark on an overseas trip while pregnant.

Best time to travel when pregnant

Image: Photo by Trần Long

The best time to travel is during the second trimester (between 14 and 28 weeks of gestation) when the threat of miscarriage is diminished. It is also advisable to keep flight time to a limit of between five and seven hours as the risk of deep vein thrombosis increases during pregnancy.

The first and last trimesters are not good times to travel as there is an increased likelihood of complications. During the first trimester, apart from the threat of miscarriage, some women may also experience severe pregnancy symptoms. It is not advisable to travel during the last trimester because of the risk of premature labour.

(See also: I Dream of Gynae – How to Choose Dr Right when You’re Pregnant)

Airline recommendations for travel when pregnant

Image: charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Google to check. Most airlines will also not allow travel after week 36 of single pregnancies and week 32 of multiple pregnancies. According to Singapore Airlines policy, pregnant women with uncomplicated single pregnancies between 29 weeks and 36 weeks are required to provide a medical certificate stating the following:

(1) fitness to travel
(2) number of weeks of pregnancy, and
(3) estimated date of delivery

The certificate should be dated within 10 days of the date of the first flight exceeding 28 weeks of pregnancy. This certificate will have to be presented at check-in when requested. Other airlines have similar policies. Do check before you book your tickets!

For uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, you will need to present the medical certificate if you are travelling between the 29th and 32nd week of pregnancy.

However, even if your trip falls within the “golden period” of pregnancy, there are some instances where it is best to cancel the trip or to consider a staycation instead, says Dr Chong.

When to make alternate travel plans

Pregnancy is a two-in-one situation. Whatever happens to you can affect your growing foetus as well. So it is useful to have a plan B in place in case of one of the below:

  • complications such as bleeding during pregnancy
  • an increased chance of premature birth e.g. multiple pregnancies
  • medical conditions that are not well controlled e.g. high blood pressure
  • a history of deep vein thrombosis
  • a history of recurrent premature birth
  • illness, such as a high fever

Obviously, if your destination is undergoing an epidemic, it is best to avoid the place.

(See also: Caesarean Delivery – What Really Happens during Your C-section?)

What to pack

Image: Photo by Polina Tankilevitch
  • Travel medication. Check the expiration date of your usual travel medication and ensure that they are safe for use during pregnancy. You will need medication for diarrhoea, headache, pain, and nausea. Remember to pack a First Aid kit as well.
  • Prenatal vitamins and any prescription medication.
  • Compression socks to help prevent deep vein thrombosis, especially if flights are long.
  • Your antenatal history. You should know it already, but obtain a short record from your doctor in case you need medical help overseas.
  • Travel insurance. Ensure that yours covers pregnancy-related issues. Most travel insurance do not include pregnancy-related issues so do check yours before you go.
  • Emergency contact details of the hospital nearest to your hotel. Find this and note it down before you leave for your holiday. You will not have time to search for one online if something should happen.

On the plane

Image: Wonder KIM on Unsplash
  • Ask for an aisle seat. It will be easier for you to get up to stretch your legs and also to make those toilet runs.
  • Wear loose comfortable clothes and shoes which are easy to slip on and off. This will help reduce any discomfort in case your feet swell.
  • Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened at all times. Turbulence can strike anytime. The seat belt should lie under your belly.
  • Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Airplane air is extremely drying. You can bring an empty water bottle through airport security. When you are onboard, ask the air stewardess to fill it up for you. This way you can take regular sips of water without having to wait for the food and beverage cart to come around.
  • Bring along snacks like crackers and nuts.
  • If you are not comfortable going through the new full-body scanners at the airport (which use low levels of radiation), you may request for a physical pat-down and go through a regular metal detector instead.

(See also: Gestational Diabetes 101 — Are You at Risk?)

When to seek medical attention

Seek medical attention if you do not feel well. However, it is important to get to a hospital immediately if you experience any of the following:

  • bleeding
  • bloody show, which is a sticky, red discharge, signifying imminent labour. The discharge is the mucus plug that blocks the cervix
  • water leakage from the water bag
  • abdominal cramps or labour pains

The bottom line? Yes, you can travel when pregnant. The caveat: get the go ahead from your obgyn first. Then listen to your body, trust your instincts, remain alert to changes, and take extra good care of yourself. Have a blissful babymoon, take lots of photos, and come home with wonderful memories to regale your little one with when he or she is old enough. Bon voyage!

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Can I Take a Flight while Pregnant?