While flying while pregnant isn’t discouraged, it can be a stressful experience for pregnant flyers. With the full-body scanners used by airport security continually evolving, many pregnant flyers have wondered whether these scanners can detect their unborn babies. If you plan on flying while pregnant, this is what you should know about full-body airport scanners!
Full-body airport scanners use low-intensity radiation to detect metallic and non-metallic objects on a person’s body. However, these scanners cannot detect objects inside your body, including an unborn baby. Ultimately, all security screening equipment is safe to use by pregnant flyers.
Related: Can airport scanners detect pregnancy?
Can Airport Scanners See An Unborn Baby?
In recent years, airports across America have been upgrading their full-body scanners. Due to this, there has been a shift away from traditional metal detectors. This has left many pregnant flyers wondering whether these scanners can see their unborn baby.
Luckily, full-body scanners at airports cannot penetrate your skin. Instead, low-intensity radiation is used to see through clothing and pick up on any concealed items that may pose a security threat. Ultimately, these full-body scanners are an important part of airport security.
The low-level radiation used by newer scanners cannot detect your unborn baby. Furthermore, passing through the full body scanners at the airport does not pose any risk to you or your unborn baby. These machines have been thoroughly tested to ensure they’re safe for everyone, including pregnant flyers.
What Type Of Radiation Do Airport Scanners Use?
For body scans before flights, two types of airport scanners are utilized for screenings. Ultimately, the type of radiation the airport scanner uses will depend on the type of scanner the airport uses. While most airports use millimeter-wave scanners, some use X-ray backscatter systems.
X-ray backscatter systems detect threats, such as weapons or explosives. These scanners use the machine’s low-energy x-rays to detect prohibited items. These scanners use radio waves, much like the radiation used in electronic devices, such as smartphones and televisions.
Millimeter-wave scanners involve a minimal amount of radiation, which is known as non-ionizing radiofrequency wave radiation. Compared to x-ray backscatter scanners, this radiation is less harmful and doesn’t pose a danger to human health, even if you’re pregnant. These scanners are also used to detect banned items before a flight.
How Are Body Scans Done At Airports?
As we explained above, full-body airport scanners are devices used to detect objects on a person’s body for security screening purposes. All flyers will need to pass through these scanners to board their flight.
Due to the design of these machines, these full-body scanners can detect items like concealed weapons and explosives without physical contact. Ultimately, this means full body scans can be effectively carried out at airport checkpoints.
Are Airport Scanners Safe To Use During Pregnancy?
While airport scanners cannot be used to see your unborn baby at security checkpoints, many pregnant flyers still have health and safety concerns about passing through these full-body scanners.
Regardless of the specific scanner that is used at the airport, all screening equipment is safe to use by all travelers, which includes pregnant people. Ultimately, the radiation used by airport scanners is harmless to pregnant women and their unborn babies.
What Do Airport Body Scanners Detect?
While full-body scanners at security checkpoints cannot detect your unborn many, you might wonder what these scanners are used to detect. Since full-body scans are done as part of TSA’s security procedures, these scanners are designed to detect and identify both metallic and non-metallic objects on the exterior of a body.
Contrary to widespread misconceptions, these scanners cannot see inside bodily cavities or diagnose diseases. Many new full-body scanners have been specially designed to provide passengers with more privacy by only displaying generic body outlines, which cannot be used to indicate your gender or body type.
Can You Opt Out Of A Full Body Scan At The Airport?
While airport scanners are safe to use and cannot see your unborn baby, many pregnant flyers have wondered whether it’s possible to opt out of the full-body scan. Ultimately, any flyer can choose to legally opt out of the full body scan.
If you don’t want to pass through the full-body scans at security, you can let a TSA agent know. However, it’s important to remember that TSA is responsible for screening all passengers. If you decide not to pass through the scanners, another security procedure will be used to screen you.
The first alternative is a full-body pat down, a manual screening procedure used by TSA. Some airports may also use metal detectors if you don’t want to pass through the scanners. It’s important to note that those who opt out of the full-body scanners may be more thoroughly screened.
Is Air Travel Safe During Pregnancy?
Flying while pregnant can be increasingly stressful, especially with all the different aspects to keep in mind. However, pregnant flyers can rest assured that there is no evidence to suggest that flying is harmful to their unborn baby. As we discussed, this includes screening equipment used by officials before flights.
From the full-body scanners to the changes in air pressure, no part of flying is considered harmful to pregnant women. Ultimately, flying while pregnant won’t cause your water to break, induce early labor, or cause a miscarriage. However, pregnant women should still consult their doctor or midwife before flying.
However, before booking a flight while pregnant, you should also check your chosen airline’s policy regarding flying while pregnant. Ultimately, the airline guidelines for pregnant flyers are likely to vary depending on your carrier and destination.
When Should Pregnant People Not Fly On Airplanes?
As mentioned above, most air travel is safe for healthy pregnant flyers. Most airlines allow women who are up to 36 weeks pregnant to fly. Generally, the best time to fly is mid-pregnancy, which is classified as between 14 and 28 weeks pregnant.
You must consult the appropriate doctor if you want to fly before or after this recommended mid-pregnancy timeframe. Your doctor can give you clearance to fly. In fact, your doctor can also provide you with a medical letter confirming your due date.
How To Ensure You Have A Comfortable Flight During Pregnancy?
While flying isn’t harmful to the health of your or your baby, you should always consult with your doctor or midwife before air travel. Generally, those with low-risk pregnancies can fly at any point during their pregnancy – but it’s always wise to check beforehand!
If you’re flying while pregnant, you should ensure you pack plenty of healthy snacks for the trip. However, you should ensure you only pack snacks that can be taken through the TSA checkpoint.
Finally, you should also think of your comfort during the flight. This is particularly important for those going on flights longer than four hours. These pregnant flyers should pack a pregnancy/lumbar pillow, an eye mask, and ear plugs. These items will ensure a peaceful journey!