Miscarriage While Flying
Today, people are flying more than ever and pregnancy seems to present no impediment to this trend. As a result, health providers have begun to concern themselves with making sure that pregnant passengers are prepared for every eventuality. That makes it a cinch to get good advice about whether or not it's safe for you to fly while pregnant, the ins and outs of immunization, what to do for motion sickness, and what the effects of high altitude may be on your developing fetus. That said, not too many physicians address the topic of what happens if you should experience a miscarriage or suffer from an ectopic pregnancy while flying.
The truth of the matter is that the basic principles relating to the clinical management of these health emergencies doesn't change according to the place where they may occur. Still the ability of the professionals to manage such emergencies is hampered by factors like the limited availability of space, qualified assistants, and the sterile tools or instruments that happen to be in the emergency medical kits onboard a commercial aircraft.
That means that an obstetrician may not have much advantage over non-medical personnel in giving optimal care. The main difference will be in the obstetrician's ability to provide a prompt diagnosis. An obstetrician may also have more confidence or even inspire more confidence in the patient, non-medical personnel, and helpful passengers onboard.
Still, the chance that an obstetrician will be onboard while a passenger is having a miscarriage is bound to be slight. If the worst scenario occurs and you suffer a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy onboard, it's likely that one of the stewards or stewardesses are going to be your great white hope. They will try to establish an air to ground communication with a hospital so as to get the best possible advice and knowledge to help them help you. Your plane may be guided to the nearest airport for an emergency landing.
The main concerns remain that of hemorrhagic shock from early pregnancy complications, making sure that vital signs are monitored, and assessing the severity of any bleeding. All of these factors are crucial in making clinical decisions. In a case where there is a serious lack of facilities, the main concern will be the observation of the progression of your miscarriage or other emergency and how much blood is lost.
It is hoped that non-medical personnel will have the knowledge to begin an intravenous drip line in the case of heavy bleeding, though IV bags and apparatus are not always supplied in onboard emergency kits. Analgesic treatment may be useful in preventing a patient from going into vasovagal shock during a miscarriage, which causes fainting from intense pain or fear. If this treatment is not successful, it may be necessary to cause the active evacuation of the fetus.
If oxytocic drugs are not available to help the uterus contract after miscarriage, uterine massage or compression may be the only means available to control bleeding. It's not a good idea to try to remove the placental tissue until such time as the patient can be brought to a medical facility.