I came across an article on MSNBC, taken from the Associated Press, discussing air travel while pregnant. First, the title...
I came across an article on MSNBC, taken from the Associated Press, discussing air travel while pregnant. First, the title caught my attention: Pregnant Fliers Can Easily Hide Condition from Airlines. Condition? I didn't realize pregnancy was a condition! I'm not highly sensitive to word choices, but geez. Beyond that, the content was...interesting? The first sentence is as follows:
If a woman really wants to get around the rules barring her from flying in late pregnancy, there's little an airline can do to stop her.
I didn't realize that airlines had rules preventing women from flying beginning at a certain point in their pregnancies. Obviously I was naive, but I assumed the judgment call as to whether it was wise to fly was left with the expectant mother. However, even in the face of rules, the article notes that airlines can do little to enforce their rules. This particular article was written following a very unfortunate incident wherein a woman gave birth on a flight from the Bahrain to Manila and then left the baby in the airplane's bathroom. (It was reported that the baby was doing well. I'm noting that because I like to know these things when I'm reading upsetting stories.) The occurrence obviously sparked discussion on traveling late in pregnancy and airline rules regarding it. Of note:
In-flight births are so infrequent they aren't tracked by airline associations. Much more common are passenger medical emergencies like heart attacks and anxiety attacks, or travelers who pass out after taking tranquilizers or drinking alcohol.
So, why all the fuss? Shouldn't we trust expectant moms to use their good judgment. I mean, the situation with the woman who gave birth was obviously an odd one -- she left her baby in the bathroom. Also note that she says she worked as a maid, was raped by her employer, and felt intimidated by her employers. This was a very unique situation for sure. Beyond the possibility of going into labor on a plane, are there any other risks if you fly while pregnant? I checked Mayo Clinic's website out of curiosity and the conclusion seems to be, more or less, that if you have certain conditions -- such as sickle cell anemia, clotting disorders or placental insufficiency that could put you at risk for additional complications from pregnancy -- you're beyond 36 weeks or you're at risk for preterm delivery, flying is probably not unsafe. Of course, an expectant mom should always discuss the issue with her doctor so that she can make a decision that is safe for both herself and her baby. So, all of this brings me back to my original thought: should airlines have rules regarding when expectant moms can (or more specifically, cannot) fly? Or should moms use their own judgment?

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