In an increasingly connected world today and with rising affluence coupled with more affordable, convenient and comfortable travelling modes, more and more women are travelling during their pregnancies. However there is always anxiety for women on whether travelling affects them or their babies.
Hence, let’s review the common modes of commute and peruse if they affect the pregnancies in any way, at the various trimesters of pregnancy.
Travelling can generally be by land, air or sea. Land travel will either be by automobiles or train. Air travel will either be in pressurised aircrafts i.e. larger commercial aircrafts, or smaller non pressurised aircrafts.
TRAVELLING BY PLANE
For an uneventful healthy pregnancy, it is generally safe to fly throughout the pregnancy until 36 weeks at the latest. However, for certain high risk pregnancies, it’s better to stay closer to
home and hospital. The risk of miscarriage is highest in the first trimester, whether one is travelling or not. Also in the first trimester, morning sickness, gastrointestinal discomfort and poor energy levels may render travelling an unpleasant experience. Meanwhile the risk of premature labour is highest after the 34th week. Here, some pregnant women may opt to carry a summary of their pregnancy records with them during their travels in case they require emergency obstetric care whilst away from home. Hence the safest time to travel is between the 14th – 27th weeks.
Is it safe to
Most airports scan passengers with metal detectors using low-frequency electromagnetic fields to look for forbidden objects. The low levels of electromagnetic fields that a metal detector emits, is generally safe. Sometimes the security personnel use electromagnetic ‘wands’ to pass over passengers who trigger the alarms. These are also safe.
Luggage X-ray machines however, are not safe. They emit radiation like normal medical X-rays machines. They are meant only for bags and inanimate objects. Therefore do NOT place your hand through the curtain of the screening machine. There will be significant levels of
There are now new types of body scanning machines in certain airports in the United States and other places. One of them, the “backscatter” machine, uses low-level X-rays to create an image of the surface of your body to detect objects hidden under clothes. This machine may not be entirely safe. Another type, the “millimeter wave” machine, uses electromagnetic waves and is less controversial.
The US Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) claims that the radiation exposurefrom the backscatter machine emits less than 1/1,000 of the radiation given off in a standard chest X-ray, or the equivalent of two minutes of high-altitude flight. Hence it is safe. However, some medical experts question whether the machines have been tested thoroughly enough and what would happen if a machine malfunctions. Therefore, in
pregnancy, you can insist for a physical “pat down” search instead.
All commercial planes maintain a standard level of cabin pressure. If your pregnancy has been uneventful, this pressure is safe. However, because the air pressure in the cabin is less than the normal pressure on land, your heart rate and blood pressure will increase to enable you to take in the oxygen you need. For women with severe anemia, sickle cell disease, a history of blood clot or a condition called ‘Intrauterine Growth Restriction’ (IUGR), you or your baby may have oxygen deficiency and should avoid flying.
Flying in unpressurized small planes is a different matter. If you’re cruising say, at 10,000 feet, for example, that’s just like standing atop a 10,000-foot mountain. Your cardiovascular system will have to work harder to supply you and your baby with sufficient oxygen, so it’s probably wise to avoid unpressurized planes.
Dipetik dari i-exposure Vol 18 by Dr Eric Soh Boh Swee (Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist – Island Hospital Penang
Hubungi Perwakilan Island Hospital Penang – 0811657299/ 081533318356/ 085296335566