Is It Safe to Fly During Pregnancy?

Expectant mothers are always advised to get the green light to fly from a healthcare professional. While air travel is generally considered safe for women during a healthy pregnancy, there are instances when it could pose as a risk. Whether or not it is safe for you to fly during pregnancy is subject to a number of factors. Usually, any kind of travel and that includes air travel is not advised for a pregnancy that is older than 36 weeks.

Is It Safe to Fly During Pregnancy?

Health Factors to Consider

It is safe to fly during pregnancy. However, you must seek approval from your physician especially if you have experienced conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Previous preterm labor
  • High blood pressure
  • Spotting

Airline Policies and Documents Needed

Most airlines will allow expectant mothers to fly with them until a month before due date for local flights. Ticket agents will generally want to know if you are pregnant when booking your ticket. The airline may also go a step further and ask about your due date while boarding. An airline can actually bar you from getting on the plane if they have cause to worry about how far along your pregnancy is and we therefore recommend that you simply acquire written permission from your personal physician or a midwife. This written letter usually indicates the due date and confirms that chances are low that you can go into labor within the coming 72 hours. The state of the medical examination is also indicated.A written consent from your physician not only prevents these delays but ensures that it is safe for you to fly.

Best Time to Fly During Pregnancy

The second trimester which is between 14 and 27 weeks is a good time to plan for air travel. By then, your body has already adjusted to the changes. Your morning sickness is under control and your levels of energy have been regained as well. If you are taking a business trip, your body is in a better position to cope with the trips and tight schedules. For leisurely trips, you get to enjoy a relaxing trip without carrying items such as nappies, a pushchair or toys. You simply travel light and free of responsibilities.

For women who have undergone a previous uncomplicated pregnancy, you can fly until you are 36 weeks pregnant and this could even be shorter for international flights. This will however vary with the airline because some airlines will not allow women with pregnancy over 28 weeks to travel and this is because there is always the risk of an early birth. In the third trimester, it’s generally difficult to sit for long hours or move around making it not the best time to fly.

Things to Consider for Flying During Pregnancy

1. Know Policies and Restrictions

There are a couple of things you need to consider when travelling while pregnant. For starters, you need to find out if there are any restrictions before you go ahead and book your flight. Like we mentioned above, different airlines have their different policies. You need to be realistic about your pregnancy and not only need to consider how far along you are but how far along you will be during the return flight. It’s recommended that you fly in large commercial planes. This is because small planes have pressurized cabins that could elevate your blood pressure.

2. Take Travel Insurance

You also need to consider taking travel insurance. There are no guarantees that you will remain in good health and you want to ensure that your medical care is covered when and if problems arise. When travelling, do not leave behind your medical records and these include relevant ultrasound copies and prenatal records as well.

3. Bring Medications and Vitamins

Carry your medications and prenatal vitamins close to you preferably in your hand luggage in case your bags are unreachable.

4. Keep Contact Numbers Handy

Always have your obstetrician’s number with you at all times and also program it into your travel companion’s cell phone. When travelling alone, have emergency numbers handy.

5. Get Moving on the Plane

Exercise when you can and you can do this by walking around the plane and doing some calf exercises. Most airlines accommodate this and they will give you any information you may require. In other words, try not to sit for too long and always ask for help when you need it.

6. Dress Comfortably

Your dressing goes a long way in keeping you comfortable and healthy. You should wear loose clothes as well as comfortable shoes. Also adjust the seatbelt in such a way that the strap is not above or along your bump but below it.

7. Wear Stockings

Clots may form because of inactivity during the flight. You need to wear stockings for support, this helps to keep your blood flow normal and they also relieve veins that are swollen. However, there is a big difference between tights and stockings. Tights restrict air flow and could easily bring about thrush making your trip unbearable. We recommend that you also carry knee high socks and the good thing is that there are such socks specially designed for flights. For maximum protection, wear your knee high socks or stockings all day.

8. Drink Water

Most importantly, do not forget to stay hydrated. Drink enough water.

You can get a lot more information on how to travel comfortably in different trimesters by checking out this video:

The following video provides more tips on what to do and what not to do:

Possible Risks of Flying During Pregnancy

There is a reason why expectant mothers have restrictions while travelling and this is due to the risks that the travel and pregnancy expose them to. Flying while pregnant could increase your chances of developing varicose veins and blood clots or what in medical terms is referred to as thrombosis.

Besides clotting, flights could also bring about risks such as abnormalities in the unborn child or even put you at risk of a miscarriage. This is due to the natural atmospheric radiation exposure. Pregnant frequent travelers and flight attendants are at a higher risk of developing such complications because they are exposed to these factors a lot more than the average traveler. While these risks are minor, they still exist and you need to be wary of them.


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