by Cassandra R. Elias
In The Spotlight: Who Decides if Women in Their Ninth Month Should Fly?
In the last couple of months, at least two babies have been born at 30,000 feet. Granted, these were times you could count on applause over indignation at the sound of a baby crying on a plane.
The most recent birth occurred on a Delta flight from Africa to Atlanta on March 23, 2012. Mom went into labor three weeks early. She was lucky in that there happened to be an obstetrician on the airplane!
About a month and a half prior, on February 9, 2012, a woman on a Spirit Airlines flight from LAX to Ft. Lauderdale gave birth in the plane's upper galley. The crew asked if there was a doctor on board but no luck. The baby was delivered with flight attendants who were aided by MedAire, an association that helps airlines conduct inflight medical events by phone. Not ideal but thankfully, all went well.
While these births had happy endings, they can serve as cautionary tales for women flying in the late stage of pregnancy. There is no guarantee that there will always be a doctor or competent flight attendant on board.
According to MSNBC, some airlines have policies restricting how far along pregnant women can be before they do not allow them to fly or they require a doctor's note. Delta has no restrictions but Spirit requests that women be examined prior to flying.
United requires that women in their ninth month have an obstetrician issue a certificate within 24-72 hours prior to departure. JetBlue, U.S. Air and Virgin America require that pregnant women have a doctor's note within seven days of flying.
So what does the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend? ACOG suggests that women in the last phase of pregnancy should be aware of the potential of blood clots and dehydration, especially while in high altitudes. The organization suggests drinking lots of water and walking around every hour or so.
The best advice is to check with your obstetrician or you may find yourself needing another seat on your flight!
What do you think about airplane travel while nine months pregnant? Would you do it? Have you? Sound off!