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Low-lying placenta (20 weeks) and flying

(17 Posts)
frutilla Fri 27-Jun-14 12:17:55

I had my scan and was told the placenta anterior is low lying <15mm from the cervix os. I have had two c-sections so have to rescan at 32 weeks.
Other than this no one said anything, but looking at mumsnet archive I see some hospitals give out fact sheets and warnings.

I called the midwife team and asked about problems with long-haul flights but she just laughed at me that I had been reading stuff off the net.
So why do some hospitals say no lifting, no sex, no travel?
Any advice? I will be 25 weeks when I take a 14 hour flight and 28 weeks on the return journey.
Thanks in advance!!

Mutley77 Fri 27-Jun-14 12:42:10

I don't know "how low" <15mm is as I don't know the measurements.

BUT I have known a few people to have placenta issues, including low lying. And often they have had a sudden, unexpected and heavy bleed. This sometimes results in being admitted to hospital until the baby is born - I'm sure you've seen similar stories if you've looked it up. I had bleeding, which was unexplained, from 25 weeks and was advised not to be further than 20 mins from a hospital.

Personally I would not fly that late if you have a known issue. There is the (probably very slim) risk that you would have a heavy bleed on a plane without the necessary medical attention. But IMO more likely would be having a bleed while you're there and then being grounded until the baby is born - depends on where you're going and your circumstances (and your insurance) as to whether this would be a disaster or not! Although your insurance may not pay out to cover your expenses if you knew about the condition before you left home.

I am sure if your placenta is significantly low lying (which I guess it is if they are re-scanning you) an obstetrician would be happy to write a letter to your insurance company saying you are not fit to fly.

HauntedNoddyCar Fri 27-Jun-14 12:50:29

Iirc then the issues are usually if it is touching the os. That's when you really need to be careful

allduffedup Fri 27-Jun-14 17:10:18

I seem to be writing the same thing on a lot of these threads recently, but I was also told at the 20w scan that the placenta was low - in my case reaching but not covering os. The only advice they gave me was to call them if I started bleeding. I've never had any other problems and I went on a long haul flight at 23 weeks returning ~24/25 weeks. I got a fit to travel letter from my GP too.

mylittlemonkey Fri 27-Jun-14 22:52:47

Your situation is very similar to mine. Just had 20 week scan and told low lying placenta 18mm from cervix. I was told they like it to be 3cm above cervix. Have also have had 2 previous c sections. I was told I had to see the midwife after the scan and was given a leaflet and advice about it and an appt was made for a further scan at 31 weeks. The leaflet says the main problem with a low lying placenta is bleeding and I think there is a risk that if the bleeding becomes quite heavy then you may need to stay in hospital or worse. It says you need to seek medical advice about any bleeding though.

I am also travelling at 26/27 weeks and the trip is important, although not as important as baby but I would really like to go if there is no real risk. I think the main issues are that I will need a fit to fly letter so it's whether the dr/ midwife will give it and whether I will be covered by travel insurance as it is likely to be classed as a pre-existing condition and so not covered. I think the main worry is the likelihood that you could get a bleed and need medical assistance and then not be covered by insurance.

I think low lying placenta is quite common but I don't know how common it is to have bleeds because of it. I am going to ring travel insurance tomorrow and see what I would be covered for and then speak to midwife next week and go off her advice.

Marnierose Sat 28-Jun-14 00:07:43

I wouldn't fly with a low lying placenta. Especially not long hail. There was another post recently from someone asking advice.

drLu Sat 28-Jun-14 02:26:04

I've got the same and was told by my consultant not to have sex. (In fact nothing should go up there!!)

Not sure about flying - I guess it depends when. Bleeds are more common after 30 weeks and if you bleed it can happen quickly and you can lose lots of blood putting you and baby at risk.

If you google the royal college of obstetrics and gynaecology they have have a fabulous fact sheet about placenta previa that explains it for the non medical person.

Essel Sat 28-Jun-14 03:14:51

I posted a similar Q recently. My placenta is covering the os so a bit different to you. I was due to go at 21 weeks and return at 23.

Im currently in bed sulking and not paddling in the horizon pool i booked for a holiday. I am gutted but once my obstitrician advised me not to fly my insurance was void and i didnt want to be stuck in a developing country in an emergency.

If i could have got a medical cert to say i was OK to fly i would have gone. Im 21 weeks. My GP gave me no info and was completely relaxed (ignorant?) about it all but once the OB said ''no' that was it.

I think it all varies according to how close the placenta is to the os, whether its front or back and how many weeks you are.

See if anyone will sign a fit to fly and what your insurance company thinks about placenta praevia. Mine listed it as a condition they accepted cancelling a holiday for. I think that means they wouldnt pay out as it was a pre existing condition.

The danger with flying is that you hemorrhage badly and cant get a blood transfusion quick enough because you are stuck in the air. Then they have to land or make you wait?My dr said that as the placenta is the babies blood supply, if that bleeds the baby bleeds. Ive also been told to go directly to emergency even if its only spotting and not to drive myself.

But then mine is worse than yours. I hope it all works out for you.

allduffedup Sat 28-Jun-14 09:31:16

Just wanted to add - you could always book a private scan for a few days before you are due to fly - then you could see if it has already moved up? I heard that it is already quite common for it to have moved up by 25 weeks.

I am 25 weeks and found out at my 20 week scan that my placenta was low-lying and completely covering my cervix. I was not given any advice or warnings.
I am due to fly to Ireland next weekend and was a bit concerned so I went back for another scan during the week.
My placenta has moved a bit and is now 6mm from my cervix. It is very "bulky" apparently whatever that means. It is now called placenta previa minor as its not completely covering my cervix.
I was told:
- safe to fly to Ireland
- no intercourse
- no strenuous exercise
- no heavy lifting
And above all, not to worry.

I cancelled my trip to Ireland anyway because I would have been carrying bags and was worried despite the reassurance. I kind of feel like, if there's any risk at all then I'd rather not go.

frutilla Sat 28-Jun-14 18:06:46

Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I will go to the hospital on Monday and ask for the "fit to fly" form and see if I can get obstetrician's advice as my GP suggested.

AuditAngel Sat 28-Jun-14 23:09:17

Hello, I have had grade 4 placenta praevia (as bad as it can be) twice, with both DC2 and DC3.

In addition to the grades of PP, there are stable and unstable PP. Most people have stable, but I suffered with unstable. This meant I kept bleeding throughout the pregnancy.

With DC2 I was given no advice at all, I flew at 28 weeks without a fit to fly certificate. Admitted to hospital with bleeding at 33.5 weeks, baby born at 37.5 weeks, weighing 8lb 11oz.

With DC3 I was given loads of instructions what I could and couldn't (mainly couldn't) do, including no sex, no pushing shopping trolleys etc. I had 6 separate admissions (24 weeks, 26 weeks, three times at 31 weeks, finally kept in on 6th admission at 33 weeks) we had a CS booked, but had an emergency one at 36+1.

If you have any queries, please ask away.

frutilla Mon 30-Jun-14 16:10:11

Well, I finally got through to someone rational in ultrasound who put me through to antenatal for an appt with an obstetrician. Still can't believe the midwife who laughed down the phone at me. The woman in ultrasound said there's a very good chance I wouldn't be insured with the condition....

mylittlemonkey Tue 01-Jul-14 23:01:30

I spoke to my midwife today who had advised against going abroad and flying. She said that low lying placenta is classed as a complication of pregnancy and so would have to be included within any letter to an airline meaning they would be unlikely to let me fly. It would also be a complication for insurance purposes and so I would not be covered by insurance.

Had to tell close friend could not go to her wedding! ! Really disappointed but equally I feel the midwife would not have advised against it if there really was no risk of complications. I would not want to end up a hospital abroad where I can't speak the language with complications on my own without dh.

AuditAngel Wed 02-Jul-14 06:25:46

Monkey I had to miss travelling away to a hen weekend with about 10 days notice which I was really disappointed about. I consoled myself with the knowledge the wedding was in the UK.

I then got a ban from being more than 20 minutes from the hospital (I was having bouts of bleeding and had been admitted about 4 times by this stage) so could' travel to Chester for the wedding either.

It was the right decision as I was admitted for the 6th time on the day of the wedding and had to stay there till DD2 was born.

Please do as the medical professionals recommend.

frutilla Wed 02-Jul-14 19:22:29

I was advised by antenatal receptionist to go to the hospital tomorrow and request a fit to fly form. I will update as to what they say.

frutilla Thu 03-Jul-14 18:21:44

So just an update for those searching the archives for info/advice. The midwife at the hospital spoke to one of the doctors and told me that while I don't need a fit to fly form as I will be within the acceptable weeks, it's entirely up to me to make the decision as to whether I want to take the risk. When I pushed her to comment on their views, she said they would advise not to fly. So I have asked my GP for a medical certificate (£40 charge for that!!!!) and will get either refunds/changes from the airlines. Thanks to all who responded! x

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