What to expect when you're expecting, air travel edition

By Sarah Klein
Updated March 01, 2018

If you’re going to keep up as a Kardashian, you can’t let your jet-setting lifestyle slip just because you’re pregnant.

Eight-months-pregnant Khloe is celebrating her babymoon with sisters Kim and Kourtney in Tokyo, where a handful of angry online commenters think she definitely should not have gone, bump in tow.

Replies full of unhelpful thoughts (and grammatical errors) have included "Why would u travel to tokyo pregnant…Your an idiot" and "she’s 8 months and flying that far? Not too smart," HelloGiggles reported.

Granted, we can only imagine she flew on a private plane—heck, maybe even with a doctor on board, for all we know. But for the rest of us, is it safe to travel at eight months pregnant or what?

Generally, assuming you don’t have certain risk factors (more on that later), yep, it’s safe, says Christine Greves, MD, ob-gyn at Orlando Health Hospital. The standard recommendation: You can fly while pregnant up to 36 weeks, according to the American College of Obstetricians (ACOG). Even traveling by plane during the ninth month of a pregnancy might be okay, as long as your doctor signs off on your trip, according to the American Pregnancy Association—but you just might give birth right there on the plane, Dr. Greves adds.

Some pregnancy complications, however, like preeclampsia, make travel while pregnant more risky. If you're carrying multiples, your doctor might suggest limiting your travel plans. Certain heart or lung conditions as well as sickle cell disease could also put you on a no-fly list, Dr. Greves says. You'll need to discuss all your individual risks with your doctor before flying, she says, "but for the standard, low-risk pregnancy, yes, travel is safe."

You still need to do a little planning ahead, for safety measures. First, check your airline's policy on pregnancy. Some carriers, especially on international flights, might follow an earlier cutoff than 36 weeks. Pick your location wisely, Dr. Greves says, to avoid concerns like Zika or malaria. Then, the ACOG recommends booking an aisle seat. That makes it easier for you to move around every two hours or so—assuming the captain has turned off the seatbelt sign. "It’s not always as easy as it sounds [to move around regularly], because of things like turbulence," Dr. Greves says.

But it's important to do so. Sitting down for a prolonged period of time—like when you’re stuck on an international flight—increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis. This dangerous type of blood clot usually starts in the legs and can be fatal if it breaks off and travels to the lungs. Pregnancy also increases your chances of DVT, so stretching your legs regularly is key.

You’re also going to want a contingency plan if you’re traveling while pregnant and need medical care, Dr. Greves says. "After 24 weeks, that baby is viable," she explains, and if you’re away from home, you just might end up going into labor or facing a pregnancy complication far from your regular ob-gyn. International travel can make it especially difficult to find the care you need, so make a plan for how you’d get help should you need it ahead of time, the Mayo Clinic advises.

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At the end of the day, the decision to travel while pregnant is up to the pregnant person and her doctor. "Everything is a risk versus a benefit versus alternatives," Dr. Greves says, "and we don’t know what life is like in other people’s shoes. We don’t recommend traveling beyond 36 weeks because we have to make a general guideline for everyone, but everybody is a unique individual."

Judging by some of the responses to Khloe’s travel plans, that point is lost on internet commenters. But, no stranger to online criticism, Khloe has already clapped back at negative reactions to how often she cradles her bump. Maybe she’ll come for the haters about her decision to travel too.

No word yet if she’ll also make the internet mad by sampling some sushi while she’s enjoying Japan.