Abuja - Dr Chris Agboghoroma, Chief Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the National Hospital, Abuja, has advised expectant mothers to avoid air travel during the last months of their pregnancy.
Agboghoroma said on Tuesday that a woman in the 36th or 37the week of pregnancy could deliver at any moment. The risk of a premature delivery and the hazards of delivery without adequate care were very high if the woman attempted to travel by air.
"A pregnant woman can fly as much as possible or until the later part of the third trimester (last months of pregnancy).
"Most of our planes are safe and well-pressurised, so there is no problem in terms of altitude - that is the level you have gone to.
"The problem is that some flights take more than two, three, four, five, six hours, some even up to 12 hours, and the process of labour can be so rapid that the woman can deliver within three hours or four hours.
"So, if you put a woman, who is already advanced in pregnancy and can fall into labour any moment and delivery within three to four hours, in a flight of seven hours, that woman can be airborne and then go into labour and deliver in the plane.
"How would you handle that? Will you ask the plane to stop on the way because the woman wants to deliver? And you cannot expect that the air hostesses have been trained to assist."
The gynecologist, however, advised all pregnant women to get a note from their doctors before they travel by air, explaining that the note would help if complications arose.
"Complications can arise in pregnancy at any time. But we are talking about delivery which is imminent for a woman who is already advanced in pregnancy.
"Apart from that, if any other complications occur, there is no way anybody could determine or predict them.
"So you cannot say: once you are pregnant you cannot travel. It is only in the later part of pregnancy that you are restricted, but during early pregnancy you can travel."