Air travel is generally safe for women with uncomplicated pregnancy, but some physicians may restrict air travel after 36 weeks. Due to high altitude and as a result maternal physiologic adaptations, patients may experience increased heart rate and bloodpressure, changes in hemoconcentration, and decreased aerobic capacity with reduction of partial oxygen pressure. Therefore, certain precautions should be taken during air travel including:
- Complicated pregnancies that may be worsened by flight conditions or may require emergency care should avoid travel by flight
- Travelers should remain hydrated and should move periodically to prevent venous stasis that can cause blood to clot. Additionally, seat belts should be worn at all times to prevent injury from unexpected turbulence.
- Supplemental oxygen should be given to women who may not be able to tolerate the relative hypoxic environment in the plane such as women with anemia, sickle cell disease, or heart disease
Travel to developing countries is highly discouraged during pregnancy. You may contract diseases that are harmful to your baby and you cannot be safely treated for them. Additionally, most vaccines are either dangerous to your unborn child or haven’t been safely tested on pregnant women. For this reason, it is advised you delay travelling to developed countries until after delivery.
Traveling to countries where malaria is present can be dangerous. Contracting malaria increases your risk for miscarriage, stillbirth or premature labor. Some anti-malarial drugs such as chloroquine are considered safe for pregnancy, but others are potentially harmful to your unborn child. It is recommended that you avoid traveling to areas where malaria is present.