Air travel is considered safe for most pregnant women throughout pregnancy. Air travel during the second trimester is typically most comfortable, as you are likely beyond the morning sickness of the first trimester and not yet to the uncomfortable stage of the third trimester as your uterus further expands. There are ways to make air travel more comfortable at any stage of pregnancy.
Before Air Travel
Before you book your flight, check with your doctor to ensure travel is acceptable. In most cases, doctors will allow air travel for pregnant women who are otherwise healthy until week 34. Beyond that, travel is generally restricted, so you will be close to your doctor and hospital in the event labor begins. Some doctors will issue a letter stating you have been cleared for travel.
Check with the airlines before you book your flight as well. Airlines differ in their policies regarding pregnant women. Some do not require any documentation, while others will require a letter from your physician before allowing you to board. Be aware that airlines do not view pregnancy or its complications as a reason for a refund if you must cancel your plans. According to the Mayo Clinic, if you have sickle cell disease, severe anemia, clotting disorders or placental abruption, you should consult your doctor before flying. Alert your doctor if you will be traveling by air often during your pregnancy, as the guidelines may differ for you.
During Air Travel
Hydration is important throughout pregnancy as, according to the American Pregnancy Association, dehyrdration can cause preterm labor. During your flight, you will need to drink more than usual to stay hydrated because of the low humidity levels in the cabin. As allowed, walk around the plane at least once per half hour during air travel. Exercising and stretching your legs can improve circulation, help with swelling and prevent blood clots. When walking through the aisles, use the seat backs for support. Balance is altered during pregnancy because of the weight of the uterus on the front of the body. Turbulence during flight can hit suddenly and unexpectedly. It is important to maintain your balance to avoid a fall.
Pay attention to the weight of your luggage. The amount of weight you are allowed to lift during pregnancy depends on your fitness level prior to pregnancy and what your body is accustomed to lifting. Your doctor can give specific recommendations for the maximum amount of weight to be lifted. Do not be shy about asking for help from fellow passengers or airline employees.