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New flying guidelines issued for pregnant women

09 February 2015 10:03

Expectant mothers are safe to fly up to the 37th week of their pregnancy, new advice says

Expectant mothers are safe to fly up to the 37th week of their pregnancy, new advice says

Expectant mothers are safe to fly up to the 37th week of their pregnancy, new advice says.

If the woman is expecting twins, however, the safest time to fly is before 32 weeks, according to new guidelines issued by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

The revised information states that if the woman is having a straightforward pregnancy, flying is not harmful for her or the baby. However, it is advisable to check with the airline they are travelling with as many have their own rules on when pregnant women can travel.

The guidelines also offer advice on possible side-effects of flying, when it is advisable not to fly and what to take on board the flight.

It is recommended that women take with them their pregnancy notes, documents confirming their due date, a European Health Insurance card and any medication they are taking. It is also a good idea to make sure they are covered by specialist pregnancy travel insurance.

Issues for pregnant women when flying

The RCOG information says that some women may experience discomfort during flying, including:

Swelling of legs Pregnancy sickness Nasal congestion Ear problems

Long-haul flights can increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot that forms in the leg or pelvis due to sitting for a prolonged period of time. Pregnancy increases this risk further.

How to minimise the risk of DVT

The guidance recommends ways to prevent DVT on flights lasting more than four hours:

Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes Take regular walks around the plane Do in-seat exercises every 30 minutes Have regular cups of water Cut down on drinks containing alcohol or caffeine Wear graduated elastic compression stockings

When not to fly

In certain circumstances it may be advised not to fly. For instance, if the woman has severe anaemia, sickle cell disease, recent significant vaginal bleeding, a serious condition affecting the heart or lungs, or an increased risk of going into labour before her due date.

Philippa Marsden, chair of the RCOG's Patient Information Centre, says: "To help decide whether or not to fly, women should think about how many weeks pregnant they will be, what facilities are available at their destination and whether it will increase their risk of medical problems.

"It is important to discuss any health issues or pregnancy complications with your midwife or doctor before you fly."