Picture this: You’re an expecting mother, excitedly planning a trip to see family or enjoy a relaxing vacation. But then, the thought creeps in… is it safe to fly during pregnancy? Don’t worry, mama bear, we’ve got your back! With the right precautions and understanding, air travel can be not only safe but also beneficial for pregnant women. In this article, we’ll address common misconceptions and provide accurate information about air travel during pregnancy. From when to fly to seat selection, we’ve got you covered. But, is it worth the risk? We’ll also explore situations when it’s best to stop flying during pregnancy. So, before you pack your bags and head to the airport, read on to ensure a safe and comfortable journey for you and your baby.
What are General Guidelines for Safe Air Travel During Pregnancy?
The good news is that most healthy pregnant women can safely fly during the first and second trimesters. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that air travel is safe for healthy pregnant women up to 36 weeks of pregnancy.
However, it’s important to note that airlines may have their own restrictions, and some may require a doctor’s note for pregnant women after a certain point in the pregnancy. So, it’s always best to check with your airline before booking your ticket.
During the first trimester, you can feel free to hop on a plane without any worries. This is the time when the baby is still small and developing, and the risk of complications is low. Plus, you’ll likely have more energy and fewer discomforts during this period.
Moving on to the second trimester, most pregnant women can still travel by air without any issues. However, as the baby bump grows, you may start to experience more discomfort during long flights. It’s a good idea to stretch your legs and walk around the cabin periodically to keep the blood flowing.
Although air travel is still generally safe during the second trimester, it’s best to avoid flying after the 36th week of pregnancy or earlier if there are complications or concerns. This is because the risk of preterm labor and other complications increases as you approach your due date.
Finally, during the third trimester, air travel is generally not recommended unless it’s absolutely necessary. The ACOG advises against air travel after 36 weeks of pregnancy due to the increased risk of complications. In addition, airlines may also have their own restrictions on pregnant women flying in the third trimester.
When to Stop Flying During Pregnancy?
Here are some situations when you should stop flying during pregnancy:
- Having signs of a possible miscarriage, such as cramping, pain, or bleeding
- Having cervical insufficiency (an incompetent cervix)
- Having preeclampsia
- Having vaginal bleeding
- Being under observation for preterm labor
- Having premature rupture of membranes (PROM), which means you’re leaking amniotic fluid or your water has broken but you’re not yet in labor
Your healthcare provider may also recommend you not fly if you:
- Are carrying twins or higher multiples after 28 weeks
- Have intrauterine growth restriction
- Have a history of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
- Have placenta previa or another placental abnormality
- Have any chronic medical condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
- Have a history of blood clots
- Have any other conditions that put your pregnancy at extra risk
What are Risks of Flying while Pregnant?
Flying during pregnancy may come with some risks, so it’s important to be aware of them before planning your trip.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
One major concern is Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a condition where blood clots form in the deep veins of the legs. Pregnant women are at a higher risk of DVT due to changes in blood flow and clotting factors. The risk can be increased during a flight when sitting for long periods of time. However, you can reduce the risk by taking breaks to stretch and walk around the cabin.
Another concern is radiation exposure, which can occur during air travel due to the higher altitude. Although the amount of radiation exposure during a single flight is not significant enough to cause harm, frequent flyers or those on long-haul flights may be at a higher risk. To reduce your exposure, you can choose to fly on newer planes with better shielding or avoid frequent flying altogether.
Risk of Infection
Lastly, air travel can also increase the risk of infection due to exposure to germs in the airplane cabin. This can be a concern for pregnant women, as they are more susceptible to infections. To reduce the risk, it’s important to wash your hands frequently and avoid close contact with sick passengers. You can also consider wearing a mask during the flight to reduce your exposure to germs.
What are the Benefits of Flying While Pregnant?
You’ll be glad to know that there are some benefits to flying while pregnant! While it’s important to take necessary precautions and consult with your healthcare provider before traveling, air travel can actually be a great way to relieve stress and get some much-needed relaxation before the baby arrives.
Think about it – a few hours on a plane with no responsibilities or distractions can be a welcome break from the demands of everyday life. Use this time to catch up on some reading, watch a movie or listen to music, or simply close your eyes and take a nap.
In addition to being a stress-reliever, air travel can also be a convenient and efficient way to travel long distances, especially for those with busy schedules or limited vacation time. With so many airlines and flight options available, you can easily find a flight that fits your schedule and budget.
What to Consider Before Flying
Before you book your flight, there are several things you should consider:
Your Health and Pregnancy Status
If you’re experiencing any pregnancy complications, such as bleeding or high blood pressure, you should avoid flying. The change in air pressure during takeoff and landing can worsen these conditions.
Similarly, if you’re in the late stages of pregnancy, you should avoid flying. Your doctor can advise you on when it’s safe to fly based on your pregnancy status.
The Length of the Flight
Long flights can be uncomfortable for anyone, but they can be particularly challenging for pregnant women. Sitting for extended periods can increase the risk of blood clots, and the dry air in the cabin can cause dehydration.
Consider the length of the flight before booking your ticket. If possible, try to break up the journey into shorter flights or take a direct flight if available.
Destination and Climate
If you’re traveling to a destination with a different climate or altitude, you should take extra precautions. High altitudes can cause altitude sickness, which can be dangerous for pregnant women. Additionally, hot and humid climates can cause dehydration, which can be harmful to both you and your baby.
What are Precautions for Pregnant Air Travelers?
Traveling by air during pregnancy can be a bit daunting, but with the right precautions, it can be safe and even comfortable.
Consult Healthcare Provider Before Booking Your Flight
The first step to ensuring a smooth flight is to consult with your healthcare provider before booking your tickets. Your doctor can provide you with valuable advice on when it’s safe to travel, as well as any special precautions you may need to take.
Once you’ve received the green light from your doctor, it’s important to inform the airline of your pregnancy. This will allow them to accommodate your needs and ensure a safe and comfortable flight. Some airlines may have more accommodating policies for pregnant passengers, such as allowing early boarding or providing extra legroom, so it’s worth researching and choosing the right airline.
Choose the Right Seat
- To avoid feeling airsick, ask for a seat in the middle of the plane over the wing. Not only will you enjoy a smoother ride, but you’ll also feel less nauseous.
- If you need more legroom, consider reserving a seat in the bulkhead or upgrading to a higher class. Also, don’t forget to stretch your legs and flex your feet regularly to prevent swelling.
- Opt for an aisle seat so you can easily move around, go to the restroom or take a stroll every hour. It’s vital to avoid sitting still for long periods, as pregnant women have a higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.
Wear Comfortable Clothing and Shoes
Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing and shoes to help reduce swelling and promote circulation during your flight.
Compression socks are a fantastic option to keep your blood circulation flowing in your legs, ultimately helping to prevent the formation of blood clots.
Stay Hydrated and Snack Frequently
To avoid the dehydrating effects of the dry cabin air, it’s essential to stay hydrated during the flight. Drinking lots of fluids, especially water, can help keep you hydrated. However, it’s recommended to steer clear of carbonated drinks as the gas in them tends to expand at higher altitudes, which can lead to discomfort.
Make sure to take advantage of the airplane’s bathroom facilities often, especially before the plane starts its descent. Trust us, you wouldn’t want to be stuck in your seat trying to hold it in during the entire landing and taxiing process. So, visit the restroom as frequently as needed to keep yourself comfortable throughout the flight.
Also snack frequently to keep your blood sugar levels stable
Neck and Back Support
Using pillows or cushions to support your back and neck can also make a big difference in comfort during the flight.
It’s also important to get up and move around frequently to prevent blood clots. Taking short walks up and down the aisle or doing simple stretching exercises can help keep your blood flowing.
Pack Your Medications
If you’re taking any medications, be sure to pack them in your carry-on luggage. Also, bring any medical documentation you may need, such as a note from your doctor.
Use Compression Socks
Consider wearing compression socks to improve blood circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots.
What are the Policies for Travel During Pregnancy? Check Out the Policies on 20 Global Airlines
Airline policies for pregnant travelers vary, so it’s essential to check with the specific airline before flying. Here are some general guidelines for major airlines:
No restrictions before 28 weeks through Air Canada; travel not permitted after 37 weeks (33 weeks for multiples).
No medical clearance needed if you travel through Air France.
No restrictions if you travel through Alaska Airlines
After 28 weeks, you need to get a detailed medical certificate if you travel through Cathay Pacific according to their guidelines. This certificate must be dated no more than 10 days before your flight. But don’t worry, as long as you’re up to 36 weeks into a healthy pregnancy, you can still fly.
Medical certificate required from 29 to 36 weeks (29 to 32 weeks for multiples) if you travel through Etihad Airways; travel prohibited after 37 weeks (33 weeks for multiples).
No restrictions until 27 weeks if you travel through Turkish Airlines; medical certificate required after 28 weeks; travel prohibited after 36 weeks for single pregnancies and 32 weeks for multiples.
If you’re flying within your own country hrough American Airlines, you shouldn’t travel within a week of your due date, unless your doctor writes a note and fills out a form for you. You can ask for this form over the phone.
If you’re traveling to another country, you need the same documents and you should avoid flying within four weeks of your due date. The doctor’s note and form should be filled out no more than 48 hours before your flight.
Need to provide paperwork up to 4 weeks before your baby’s due date if you travel through JetBlue. Need to fill out forms 48 hours before your flight.
No specific restrictions mentioned.
Air India allows travel without restrictions until the 28th week of pregnancy.
British Airways has no restrictions until 28 weeks; medical certificate required from 28 to 36 weeks; travel prohibited after 36 weeks for single pregnancies and 32 weeks for multiples.
EasyJet has no restrictions for pregnant passengers traveling before the 35th week of pregnancy (32nd week for multiples); travel prohibited after these limits.
Lufthansa has no restrictions until 36 weeks; medical certificate recommended after 28 weeks; travel prohibited after 36 weeks.
Traveling in the ninth month of pregnancy through United Airlies requires a medical certificate (and two copies) dated within 72 hours of departure.
These policies are subject to change, so it’s crucial to verify the airline’s current guidelines before booking a flight. It’s also a good idea to consult with your healthcare provider to ensure safe and healthy travel during pregnancy.
You can fly without through Southwest Airlines any restrictions, but the airline might ask you not to sit in the emergency exit row. We know it’s a bummer because of the extra leg space, but it’s for your safety.
According to Spirit’s website, it’s a good idea to have a medical exam if you’re pregnant. However, they don’t require any specific formal documents.
Air New Zealand
For a single, uncomplicated pregnancy, women can fly on flights over four hours until the end of their 36th week, and up to the end of the 40th week on flights of Air New Zealand under four hours. Twin pregnancies can fly on flights over four hours until the 32nd week, and until the 36th week on flights under four hours.
Pregnant women past their 28th week should carry a letter from their doctor or midwife stating they are fit for travel with no complications.
If you have a complicated pregnancy, multiple pregnancy, history of premature labor, or are in the early stages of labor, the airline’s medical team must provide medical clearance before you can fly.
What are the Precautions to be taken for Flying during COVID-19?
With the COVID-19 pandemic still looming, traveling can be a tricky and concerning subject, especially for pregnant women. But fear not! The CDC has provided guidelines to help you make informed decisions about flying. If you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, then you’re in the clear to travel, including flying. However, if you haven’t received the vaccine yet, it’s recommended that you delay or avoid travel unless it’s essential. The stakes are higher for pregnant women, as they are more prone to severe illness and hospitalization if they contract COVID-19. To mitigate this risk, major health organizations advise pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and those planning to conceive to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
If you have any doubts or concerns about flying during the pandemic or getting the vaccine, don’t hesitate to consult with your healthcare provider. They can help you make the best decisions for your health and your baby’s.
Flying during pregnancy can be safe if you take the necessary precautions and consult with your doctor. The timing of when to stop flying during pregnancy depends on several factors, such as the length of the flight, how far along you are in your pregnancy, and whether you have any pregnancy complications.
Before booking your flight, consider your health and pregnancy status, the length of the flight, and the destination and climate. Follow our tips for a comfortable journey, such as choosing the right seat, wearing comfortable clothing, staying hydrated, moving around, packing your medications, and using compression socks.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure a safe and comfortable journey for you and your baby.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Fly During my First Trimester?
Yes, flying during the first trimester is generally safe. However, if you’re experiencing any pregnancy complications, it’s best to avoid flying.
Can I Fly During my Second or Third Trimester?
Yes, most airlines allow pregnant women to fly up to 36 weeks of pregnancy. However, you should always consult with your doctor before flying during your second or third trimester, especially if you have any pregnancy complications.
Do I Need a Doctor’s Note to Fly While Pregnant?
It depends on the airline. Some airlines may require a doctor’s note if you’re traveling after a certain point in your pregnancy. It’s always best to check with your airline before booking your flight.
What Should I do if I start Experiencing Contractions During the Flight?
If you start experiencing contractions during the flight, notify a flight attendant immediately. They can provide medical assistance and alert the pilot to make arrangements for medical attention upon landing.
Can I Travel Internationally while Pregnant?
Yes, you can travel internationally while pregnant, but you should take extra precautions. Make sure to check the travel restrictions for your destination and consider the length of the flight and any climate or altitude differences.
Can I Bring my Own Food and Drinks on the Flight?
Yes, you can bring your own food and drinks on the flight, but make sure to check the airline’s policies on what is allowed. Some airlines may restrict certain types of food or drinks.