or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Pregnancy and Birth › I'm Pregnant › Flying soon.. any issues I need to know about?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Flying soon.. any issues I need to know about?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

I am taking a trip soon and am going to be flying across the country.  I am only 5 weeks pregnant right now, but this is my first and I feel so lost about most things pregnancy.  Is there anything I need to worry about ?  I am thinking I don't want to go through any xray machine but other that that...?  I usually have to take dramamine when I fly but am thinking I should probably avoid that, which will be interesting.. I get VERY motion sick, so hopefully I can handle flying without my dramamine!

post #2 of 30

I flew at about 20 weeks and both my MW and OB told me that the the full-body scanner is safe to go through while pregnant. Even so, I didn't feel comfortable with it and was going to opt out and get the pat-down instead. TSA ended up not asking me to go through anyway, so it didn't end up being an issue.

 

I also asked about Dramamine because I also frequently take it when I fly. And I was told that it would be okay to take if I felt like I needed to, especially because it would be a one-time thing. Not something I'd be taking regularly. Although, again, it turned out to be a non-issue for me because I didn't end up taking any. Pregnancy has had the weird effect of making me less prone to nausea than usual.

post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 

I am scared to take anything, not scared I guess, just kinda want to "tough it out" instead of putting anything in my body right now.  So I think I will try no dramamine and see how it goes.  I accidentally tookit twice a couple weeks ago before I knew I was pregnant (i had avoided everything else but forgot about dramamine) so I already feel a little bad about that and don't want to do anything else!

post #4 of 30


Just so you ladies know, it is up to TSA, not you whether to go through the scanner or not. It IS safe, as you get more radiation while in the air than if you'd gone through 10 scanners. The scanners don't actually produce XRays. They use electromagnetic fields, so it's much like standing next to a toaster oven or a lamp for a couple minutes. But pregnancy is not a reason you can opt out if it's security policy. I wouldn't worry about it. I flew cross country twice in my first trimester and have a healthy boy who benefitted from my being in a tropical paradise through a large portion of my pregnancy. Keep hydrated, move around up and down the aisle a couple times to keep blood in your legs flowing, and try ginger for the motion sickness.

 

Happy travels!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thesan83 View Post

I flew at about 20 weeks and both my MW and OB told me that the the full-body scanner is safe to go through while pregnant. Even so, I didn't feel comfortable with it and was going to opt out and get the pat-down instead. 


 

post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toposlonoshlep View Post


Just so you ladies know, it is up to TSA, not you whether to go through the scanner or not. It IS safe, as you get more radiation while in the air than if you'd gone through 10 scanners. The scanners don't actually produce XRays. They use electromagnetic fields, so it's much like standing next to a toaster oven or a lamp for a couple minutes. But pregnancy is not a reason you can opt out if it's security policy. I wouldn't worry about it. I flew cross country twice in my first trimester and have a healthy boy who benefitted from my being in a tropical paradise through a large portion of my pregnancy. Keep hydrated, move around up and down the aisle a couple times to keep blood in your legs flowing, and try ginger for the motion sickness.

 

Happy travels!

 

 


 


That's not quite correct. Anyone can opt out of the full body scanner and do the pat down instead (at least in the US). There are 2 types of scanners. One is supposedly safe and for one the safety is up for debate. I flew at least a dozen times last year and I chose to opt out because it is not worth the potential safety issue to me (especially while pregnant). Here is a link to a letter written by some UCSF professors on the potential safety issue: www.NPR.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.PDF.
post #6 of 30


I don't know. I asked to not go through and was told I had to. shrug.gif I was definitely in the US. Maybe it depends on the color of the alert system. It was orange when I flew. But honestly, if I flew a dozen times while pregnant, I would be SIGNIFICANTLY more concerned about the ionizing radiation while in the air. That's ACTUAL radiation. I tried the link, but that article seems to have gone missing from their site. 

I am assuming you're talking about the "backscatter" machines they now use at some airports. Each scan 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. Like I said, I am MUCH more concerned about the in-flight radiation. 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by waluso View Post



That's not quite correct. Anyone can opt out of the full body scanner and do the pat down instead (at least in the US). There are 2 types of scanners. One is supposedly safe and for one the safety is up for debate. I flew at least a dozen times last year and I chose to opt out because it is not worth the potential safety issue to me (especially while pregnant). Here is a link to a letter written by some UCSF professors on the potential safety issue: www.NPR.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.PDF.


 

post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 

I have never heard of in-flight radiation??  What is that from?

post #8 of 30


Oh no, sorry! Like you needed another thing to worry about. I didn't know about it either until after my pregnancy, but that's probably for the best, as I'm a worrier. It's from cosmic rays, which are stronger at higher altitudes. They have been implicated in problems with flight attendants' pregnancies and a high cancer rate in pilots. BUT, with that said, don't let this stop you from traveling while pregnant! Only very frequent exposure, or exposure during some weird storm would cause problems. Here is a good explanation:

 

http://www.epa.gov/radtown/cosmic.html

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by janellody View Post

I have never heard of in-flight radiation??  What is that from?



 

post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 

Haha oh great!!  A lot of people who are pregnant fly, though right???  Gosh, being pregnant is hard!!

post #10 of 30

Yes. People fly all the time. Like I said, I flew cross-country, roundtrip during my second trimester. Apparently, equivalent to a chest x-ray. Yikes. At least that was in 2009, before all the backscatter scanners were put in everywhere. I only remember walking through the metal detectors. So at least I had THAT advantage. But yes, being pregnant and living in general just keeps getting harder......shy.gif
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by janellody View Post

Haha oh great!!  A lot of people who are pregnant fly, though right???  Gosh, being pregnant is hard!!



 

post #11 of 30

I'm actually flying almost across the country tomorrow. I plan on avoiding the backscatter X-ray and opting for a pat-down, but otherwise, I'm just staying hydrated and eating lots of protein per my midwife's recommendation. 

post #12 of 30
Thread Starter 

My long flight is from Oregon to Atlanta, so it's a long trip (there will probably be a stop in the middle).  It is happening in October, so I will be around 12 weeks by then, I believe.  I take trips often, actually.  About once every month to 2 months for work.  I am wondering if I should cut back some while pregnant.  Hmmm..

post #13 of 30

Now I'm a little freaked out about this in-flight radiation thing.  :|

 

We're flying from Atlanta to Hawaii in October.  The flight is 12 hours or something.  Should I be worried?

post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 

I just remembered I am flying in October AND December.. and possibly another time while pregnant!  AH!  How much is too much?

post #15 of 30

I flew from Ohio to Hawaii and back. I don't know how much radiation I got, but being in Hawaii for my pregnancy was WELL WORTH IT. lol.

It's one of those things that I just choose not to think about. Women DO travel all the time while pregnant. Many airline companies put flight attendants on the ground while they are pregnant, but that's because they would be flying ALL THE TIME. I would say don't worry. Worry HAS to be worse for a pregnancy than in-flight radiation. If you want to be REALLY crazy about the whole thing, you can use this calculator to figure out how much radiation you would get: http://jag.cami.jccbi.gov/cariprofile.asp

Unless the plane hits a high altitude, I believe 35,000 or higher, it's really not TOO much radiation. The flights I have been on rarely cruised over 30,000.

 

Just found this quote, providing some numbers of normal background radiation versus in-flight:

 

The radiation exposures while flying are not considered high exposures. During your pregnancy you and your fetus will receive about 300 millirad of background radiation, which of course none of us can avoid. In a 10-hour flight you would receive less than 1 millirad. During solar flare periods the exposure may be increased. Some measurements have estimated exposures of 100 times the usual exposure while flying which would bring your exposure in the range of a low-level exposure from many diagnostic radiological procedures. Even this exposure would not increase your risk for birth defects or miscarriage, which is 3% for birth defects and 15% for miscarriage for all healthy women when they begin their pregnancy.

 

So, check for solar flares or storms, and you should be fine: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SWN/
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleMa View Post

Now I'm a little freaked out about this in-flight radiation thing.  :|

 

We're flying from Atlanta to Hawaii in October.  The flight is 12 hours or something.  Should I be worried?



 


Edited by Toposlonoshlep - 9/9/11 at 9:30am
post #16 of 30

On ability to opt out, I don't think you can opt out of a regular scanner, but you can the whole body scanners. I did a lot of research on it when I was flying so much (which was before I was pregnant), and I also talked to the TSA agents about it and I did opt out. The issue with the backscatter scanners is the way they direct the radiation into the skin, which is very different from the radiation you get from flying. Since the other link didn't work, try this one (it has a link to the letter): http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2010/11/5810/ucsf-scientists-speak-out-against-airport-full-body-scans.

post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by janellody View Post

I just remembered I am flying in October AND December.. and possibly another time while pregnant!  AH!  How much is too much?



It depends on the distance and the altitude. I wouldn't fly cross country three times, but shorter flights should not add up to much.

post #18 of 30


Yeah, I hadn't realized you meant backscatter scanners. In all my flying adventures, I was never asked to go through one. It's always just a regular one. Under what circumstances do they make you go through the backscatter? Are there gates where everyone walks through them, or are they part of the second stage of screening, where in the past you would have just gotten the pat-down?

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by waluso View Post

On ability to opt out, I don't think you can opt out of a regular scanner, but you can the whole body scanners. I did a lot of research on it when I was flying so much (which was before I was pregnant), and I also talked to the TSA agents about it and I did opt out. The issue with the backscatter scanners is the way they direct the radiation into the skin, which is very different from the radiation you get from flying. Since the other link didn't work, try this one (it has a link to the letter): http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2010/11/5810/ucsf-scientists-speak-out-against-airport-full-body-scans.



 

post #19 of 30

I usually fly out of SFO in San Francisco, and they have a full-body scanner and a regular (metal detector, I think?) scanner at every security line. It's random which you'll get asked to go through. Once they seemed to consistently be sending every other person in line through the full-body scanner. But I'm sure TSA doesn't want it to be that predictable. Could just be at that particular agent's whim. shrug.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Toposlonoshlep View Post


Yeah, I hadn't realized you meant backscatter scanners. In all my flying adventures, I was never asked to go through one. It's always just a regular one. Under what circumstances do they make you go through the backscatter? Are there gates where everyone walks through them, or are they part of the second stage of screening, where in the past you would have just gotten the pat-down?

 



 

post #20 of 30

OP, try not to worry!  Occasional flying is believed to be safe by doctors, organizations, midwives, etc... during pregnancy.  There are so many sources of toxicity and radiation that we all encounter in our daily lives.  It's reasonable to try to limit those exposures while pregnant and while not pregnant.  Once you start down that path though, everything can seem like a major threat... shampoo, lipstick, lotion, dishwasher detergent, car exhaust...  But, flying is not the greatest risk anyone encounters in their daily lives!    Remember the idea that you are more likely to die in a car crash than an airplane crash?  Same thing with risks of radiation and toxicity.  I'd worry more about not using bleach and eating organic veggies!

 

To answer your question about the backscatter v. regular metal detector, I flew cross country 3 weeks ago when I was 14 weeks pregnant.  My home airport does not have the backscatter scanners but the one I flew home from did.  I was standing there holding my 3 year olds hand and DH behind me in line.  Before I got to argue or complain, DD and I were waved through to the regular metal detector even though EVERYONE else was going through the backscatter scanner.  Just keep your cool and ask and I'm sure the TSA agent will be respectful and immediately agree.  

 

Have a good trip!

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: I'm Pregnant
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Pregnancy and Birth › I'm Pregnant › Flying soon.. any issues I need to know about?