The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ (RCOG) Patient (sic) Information Committee has recently produced a leaflet offering advice to women who are considering undertaking air travel when pregnant.
The leaflet is based upon the RCOG Scientific Impact Paper Air Travel and Pregnancy, which was published in May 2013, and ontains all the reference and sources of evidence which underpin the advice.
The topics that are covered include whether flying is harmful to babies (not if everything is straightforward, and there is a small increase in radiation, but occasional exposure isn’t thought to pose a problem), the safest time to fly (before 37 weeks with single babies, though see below for more on the dating issue), the use of seatbelts, the safety of security scanners, how to prevent DVT and what women might want to take with them.
One thing I always want to add to information about when it is OK to fly is an encouragement to women to also honour their own knowledge about their expected date of birth. As we know, there are loads of problems associated with giving a specific due date, and women’s own dates are just as accurate as scans. Although I’ve never actually carried out a research study to find out how many women felt disgruntled that professionals seemed to put more faith in the ultrasound-generated due date than their own, I’d wager that this is not an insignificant percentage, and I’ve met lots of women who were really uncomfortable with the scan-generated dates. If a woman’s scan date implies that she is ‘OK’ to fly but she feels differently, then she has no problem in that she can decide herself to not fly. In situations where the scan date suggests that the woman is further along than she thinks she is, though, this is harder to deal with, especially in late pregnancy, so this is one reason that women who are uncomfortable with any system or scan-imposed due dates may want to challenge these as early as possible.
On a lighter note and as an avid in-flight craft bunny, I’m ever-so-slightly disappointed not to see a section on knitting which highlights the fact that you CAN take knitting needles on planes, although I would always advise making them wooden or plastic ones rather than metal in order not to over-excite security personnel. In fact, if anyone’s interested (and please let me know by posting here or on facebook if so), I’ll write a post on my top ten tips for in-flight crafting?!