Dr. Kenneth Johnson, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and director of the University Women's Center, agrees, yet urges pregnant women to use caution. "Common sense dictates that women with complicated pregnancies involving twins, hypertensive disease, severe nausea, placenta previa, pre-term labor, and other pregnancy-related complications should not fly," he says.
Pregnant women can take several steps to make a flight as enjoyable as possible. They should wear loose, layered clothing and comfortable shoes, keeping in mind that their body temperatures are higher than normal.
"They should also drink extra fluids, because air travel tends to be dehydrating," says Dr. Johnson. "Extra fluids will also help eliminate Braxton Hicks—false labor—pains." He adds that eating frequent small meals can prevent hypoglycemia and nausea. Having plenty of leg room is important, as is keeping a small pillow under the back. Dr. Johnson recommends stretching at least every hour to decrease the risk of blood clots in the legs.
Some airlines have strict rules for late-term pregnant travelers and may request due-date documentation before allowing the purchase of tickets.
Overseas travel always brings up the question of immunization. Some doctors worry that certain vaccines can harm the developing fetus and recommend that their patients avoid travel to countries that require vaccines.
However, for many women, following such advice is unrealistic. Fortunately certain vaccines prove safe, and women can consult with their healthcare providers to see which immunizations pose no risk to themselves or their developing babies.
Malaria in pregnancy is very serious and can result in stillbirth, miscarriage, or complications. It is especially hazardous to pregnant women traveling to certain areas of Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America, and such women should seek detailed medical advice.