How Late Is Too Late to Fly While Pregnant?
Pregnant with places to be? Get after it! According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynocologists (ACOG), it can be perfectly safe to fly during your pregnancy, and even well into your third trimester. So what’s the cut-off point? Air travel is not recommended after 36 weeks—in fact, most airlines won’t let pregnant passengers on board after the 36-week mark.
Note that if you have any sort of pregnancy complications, have had any contractions, are at risk for pre-term labor or have a history of delivering early, your doctor may recommend that you not fly in the later weeks of pregnancy. If you are pregnant with multiples, you may want to hold off too. “If a patient is having triplets, I recommend that they not fly after 20 to 24 weeks,” says Ashley Roman, MD.
Otherwise, you should be good to go. “I simply tell my patients to be sure to drink lots of water, and get up every hour or two and make a couple of laps around the plane to get your blood flowing—this helps reduce the risk of blood clots,” Roman says.
When you’re pregnant, the circulation in your lower limbs is strained, which is what causes all that swelling in your feet. (This is also what helps bring on those dreaded varicose veins.) The longer you sit without moving, the worse it is—which is why puffy feet and ankles are common mid-flight. Plus, the cabin pressure on the plane makes for a not-so-nice combo.
On to the good news: There are definitely ways to relieve at least some of the swelling and pressure when traveling. Here are a few helpful tips:
• Avoid wearing anything tight or restricting, especially when it comes to your shoes.
• Try to get up and walk around every hour. Not possible? Rotate your ankles and point and flex your feet when you can.
• Elevate your feet as much as possible by propping them on top of your carryon luggage in front of you.
• Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drinking as much water as you can will help minimize your sodium intake.
Updated November 2016