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Dr Sarah Temple
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A family doctor with more than 20 years experience working with children in both General Practice and Mental Health Services. Trained to run Emotion Coaching Parenting Courses. She has a special interest in the link between child and parental wellbeing.
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Antenatal Care

Is it safe to fly and drive during pregnancy?

Flying generally isn’t harmful during pregnancy but there are guidelines and during the third trimester many airlines won't take you, so check in advance. In terms of driving, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk to you and your unborn baby whilst driving.    
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In Short
Airlines have guidelines about when they will take pregnant women on board. This will depend on whether the pregnancy is high risk or low risk and how many weeks pregnant the passenger is.  

Many women choose not to travel during the first trimester because of morning sickness and tiredness, or the last trimester because of tiredness.

The first trimester has the highest risk of miscarriage.

Guidelines on Flying when pregnant

With the qualifications outlined below, flying generally isn’t harmful to a pregnant woman or the baby she is carrying.

However:

After 28 weeks, the airline may request a letter from your doctor or obstetrician stating that you don’t have a high-risk pregnancy, if you are carrying multiple babies, and when your due date is. Some airlines won’t let you fly after around 37 weeks (34 if you are having twins) since there’s a chance you’ll go into labour during the flight.

If you are travelling long-haul, there’s a chance (even if you’re not pregnant) of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If you do fly long-haul, drink lots of water, get up and walk around a lot, and wear special DVT socks you can buy at the airport or pharmacy.

Vaccinations, sometimes associated with long-haul flights, are not recommended during pregnancy since the virus or bacteria in the immunization could harm the baby – talk to your doctor regarding any specific questions.

Guidelines on driving or car journeys when you are pregnant

Car travel is generally safe for a pregnant woman and the baby she is carrying – with the guidelines below:

  • Take breaks and walk around to reduce the risk of DVT if the journey is over 5 hours long.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Try to avoid long trips where you may get unusually tired, or try to share the driving.
  • Put the seat belt under your bump over your lap – with the cross strap between your breasts. Do not put the belt over the top of your bump.

If you are involved in a road accident, however minor, it’s important to get checked out by a health professional straight away. That could be your GP, your midwife or at your local maternity unit.

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DISCLAIMER
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.