Can you Fly with Gestational Diabetes? Air Travels & High-risk Pregnancies

While flying during a healthy pregnancy is very common and usually safe, some medical complications such as gestational diabetes can affect your travels.

If most women who suffer from gestational diabetes end up delivering a perfectly healthy baby, pregnancies with gestational diabetes are still considered “high-risk” pregnancies. If you suffer from gestational diabetes, you should always ask for your doctors’ advice before traveling, whether it’s by air, sea, or land.

Flying when pregnant with gestational diabetes

In the USA only, about 6% to 9% of women have gestational diabetes during their pregnancy. If you’re one of them and you’re planning to travel by air, there are a few things you should be aware of beforehand.

4AllFamily's Medicine Coolers are all TSA-approved to fly with your Insulin.

Flying during pregnancy

Women who have a healthy pregnancy without medical complications can safely fly. Be aware though that air travel during the last 6 weeks of pregnancy can trigger premature labor. That’s why most airline companies allow pregnant women on their domestic flights up to 36 weeks of pregnancy only. International flights may be limited to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Policies regarding pregnant customers vary from one airline to the other. Some require a medical certificate that explicitly state your due date while others don’t. Call your flight company before booking to be sure you’ll be allowed on the flight and ask what the necessary documents are. Meanwhile, here are the 14 major airline companies policies on pregnancy.

If you suffer medical complications during your pregnancy complications, it might not be recommended for you to fly. This usually is the case if you have preeclampsia, premature rupture of membranes, preterm labor, or gestational diabetes.

In general, pregnant women who are going through high-risk pregnancies are not advised to travel, whether it’s by plane or by land. The main reason is that you need to avoid any stress, stay calm and rested, as well as nearby your medical team. In any case, always ask for your doctor’s advice before flying while pregnant.

If you have gestational diabetes

If you suffer from gestational diabetes, you should always ask for your doctor’s advice before traveling. At 4allFamily, we are not a medical team, and we would never give medical advice here. If you have gestational diabetes, only your medical team can say if you’re fit to fly.

Flying with gestational diabetes can be dangerous. It can also be totally safe. It depends on each specific case. The most common risks of flying with gestational diabetes are deep vein thrombosis, blood clots, dehydration, and shortness of breath, which can ultimately affect your and your baby’s overall health.

If your doctor says you’re fit to fly, or if you must fly anyways, here’s what you should know before traveling by air with diabetes.

Air Travel Pregnancy Gestational Diabetes

Flying with gestational diabetes: what you must know

30% to 50% of pregnant women with gestational diabetes take insulin. If it’s your case, or if you’re wearing a continuous glucose monitoring system, you’re probably concerned about your medical supplies at the airport and during the flight.

Related: TSA regulations for diabetic travelers: Diabetes supplies and insulin at the airport

Related: Can insulin pumps go through x-ray machines and metal detectors at the airport?

TSA rules about diabetic supplies at the airport

Hundreds of thousands of diabetics fly every year. TSA and international airport security rules are easy for people with diabetes. But because you’re traveling with a whole lot of medical supplies, you need some extra organisation before you get to the airport.

Never leave your medicine and medical equipment in your checked baggage. Hazardous temperature and pressure conditions in the hold could damage your supplies and freeze your insulin.

You’re allowed to take all your diabetic supplies through airport security checkpoints. Insulin, insulin pumps, needles, vials, oral medications, syringes, lancets, blood test strips, glucagon emergency kit, juice for hypoglycemia, etc.

If you’re wearing an insulin pump or a continuous blood glucose monitor such as the Free Style Libre or Dexcom, you should not be scanned by the 360 full body scanners. It could deteriorate your electronic devices. You have the right to ask for a pat down search instead.

TSA does not demand you to show a medical certificate, but it’s recommended you ask your doctor for one. Your doctor can list all the medical supplies you need to carry with you. It will make the screening process faster and easier. You can also download the TSA notification card for individuals with medical conditions. Specify that you are pregnant and suffer from gestational diabetes. 

Anyhow, always carry your pregnancy medical record with you if you’re traveling by plane. It can be very useful and accelerate medical care in case you have an emergency during the flight or at your destination. 

Last, if you’re traveling internationally, it’s a good idea to have all these documents translated into your destinations’ language.

If you're flying with insulin, you might need an insulin travel cooler

On the plane with gestational diabetes

Now that you’ve boarded and are ready to take off here are a few tips to manage your diabetes and have a safe flight. First, like when in a car, you should wear your seatbelt under your bumps and across your lap.

Being pregnant, having diabetes, and being on a plane are three factors that are putting your blood flow under strain. To prevent blood clots and other circulation problems, move your toes, feet, ankles, and legs as regularly as possible while seated. If you’re on a long flight (more than 2 hours) stand up and walk up and down the aisles several times. It will help boost your blood circulation.

Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration which often happens during flights and is even more common for people with diabetes. Prepare sugar-free diabetic snacks as well as hypoglycaemia fast-acting sugars. 

If you’re taking insulin or any other injectable diabetes medicine like Victoza for example, prime your pen before injecting. Because of air pressure changes during take-off prefilled medicine pens may accumulate air bubbles.

If you’re crossing time zones during your travel, you might need to adjust your injection schedule. Ask for your doctor’s advice if it’s the case.

We hope you’ve found the information you were looking for. Share your experience with us: have you ever traveled by plane with gestational diabetes?

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