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  • Woman Gives Birth Mid-Flight. Netizens Ask Should She Be Flying in the First Place?

    Here's what you need to know about air travel safety for expecting women.
    by Rachel Perez .
Woman Gives Birth Mid-Flight. Netizens Ask Should She Be Flying in the First Place?
PHOTO BY iStock
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • On January 26, 2019, a Filipina pregnant woman flying from Damman, Saudi Arabia, to Manila gave birth to a healthy baby girl mid-air aboard a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight. It was one birth story for the books.

    "The passenger complained of labor pains, and after a few minutes, she said her water already broke," PAL flight attendant Marigold Parreno told SmartParenting.com.ph via Facebook Messenger. She and her fellow cabin crew members then rushed to move the pregnant woman to near the exit row to give her room to lie down.

    Although there was no doctor available among the passengers, there were two licensed nurses, but before they could even come to Parreno's aid, the baby already came out. It was a good thing Parreno happened to be a licensed nurse, and with the help of her fellow flight attendants, they successfully delivered a baby girl.

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    "Everything happened so fast, and I felt like I had no time to feel nervous. Adrenaline helped me focus on helping the mom and baby. I felt somehow confident to do it," Parreno recalled.

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    Parreno revealed she had assisted in several childbirths while studying nursing in Saint Louis University and during her work in a hospital for two years. "But [this childbirth] was my first time to do it without a doctor. I was really praying to God to guide me," she revealed.

    After the baby girl was delivered, the two nurse-passengers checked on the baby while Parreno monitored the new mom. "We made sure she wasn't suffering from any profuse bleeding," she said. The mom breastfed her baby and stayed in the exit row for comfort until the plane landed four hours later.

    The doctors, as well as ground personnel and immigration officers, were already at the tarmac waiting for their arrival. "The doctors immediately arrived and boarded the aircraft to check the baby and the mom's vital signs. To our relief, both were safe and stable," Parreno said.

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    "Not all heroes wear capes — but some can fly. And today, we salute our PAL heroes — our crew who went beyond the call of duty when one of our passengers of PR 683 went into labor on the flight from Dammam to Manila," read the caption when PAL shared photos of what had happened. "Kudos to this testament of the true #HeartOfTheFilipino — showing buong-pusong alaga that knows no bounds!"

    "I wouldn’t have done it without the help of my PR683 crew...they were the ones who were there assisting me throughout the process together with the help of many good samaritans on board. It was a beautiful scene of 'Bayanihan' at its finest!" Parreno posted on Facebook as a reply to the congratulatory messages she received since the story went viral.

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    Some netizens, however, questioned why the pregnant woman was allowed to travel with her condition in the first place.

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    Most airlines allow preggos to travel until the eighth month of pregnancy. PAL's policy does not let a pregnant woman to travel once she's beyond 35 weeks or eight months and three weeks pregnant, according to the airline's spokesperson Cielo Villaluna via email.

    A pregnant woman will be asked to disclose her condition when she travels by air. She needs to fill up and submit a form and, if required, attach her personal doctor's note that says she's safe to fly. If the expectant mom is in her ninth month, she could still be allowed to board a flight with permission from her doctor and clearance from the airlines' flight surgeon or company physician.

    That said, even when you have clearances, anything can happen. Villaluna assures future passengers, "PAL is no stranger to assisting in births on board. They are trained to do so. PAL flight attendants who have nursing backgrounds have built-in knowledge and skills on this matter, and they are indeed, assets on the flight."

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    When is it the safest time to fly during pregnancy

    The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, (ACOG) says air travel is typically safe for preggos who have a relatively low-risk pregnancy and "in the absence of obstetric or medical complications."

    You'll need your doctor's permission to fly. He will consider many factors such as the duration of the flight and where you are in your pregnancy. ACOG states most common obstetric emergencies occur in the first and third trimesters. If you're going on a babymoon, schedule it in your second trimester. Your morning sickness if you have it has decreased, and you're not yet weighed down by your growing belly. (Cabin pressure can make your morning sickness symptoms worse.)

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    On board the plane, that extra fee for an exit row may be worth it when you're pregnant — it helps to have leg room so you can stretch your legs. Or, get an aisle seat so you can easily access the restroom.

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    For long-haul flights, walk along the aisle when you can to get your blood flowing. Just be careful in case of turbulence. Take off your shoes and elevate your legs by resting your feet on your carry-on luggage under the seat in front of you. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration that can be caused by dry cabin air. Avoid consuming food that can make you gassy.

    Is it safe for pregnant women to go through security? Dr. Anthony Scialli, M.D., an obstetrician-gynecologist and toxicologist, airport security may use magnetic fields, extremely low-energy radio waves, or minute doses of X-rays to screen passengers. "The amount of energy associated with each of these exposures is much too low to be harmful to you or your developing baby," he shared with BabyCenter.

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