I’m frequently asked by anxious mums-to-be whether it’s safe for them to fly. If you have a history of miscarriage or any complications in pregnancy I feel that you are better off not flying before 12 weeks. After that, there is less risk of miscarriage and you may no longer be battling morning sickness.
Later in pregnancy you need to weigh up where you are flying to and take into account the facilities that would be open to you should anything happen.
Each airline has its own rules but you should be allowed to travel until 36 weeks if you’re going on a short haul flight of less than four hours, and 28 weeks if you’re going long haul. But it’s vital to check the policy of your particular carrier. Airlines have the right to ban you from travelling if they’re worried you’re about to give birth any minute so, from around 28 weeks, make sure you get a GP’s letter. This should confirm your due date, that you’ve been examined and that you’re unlikely to go into labour in the next 72 hours.
Although there are no studies to suggest long haul flights are dangerous for pregnant women, I personally feel they should be avoided. Many women worry about flying and get stressed at just the thought of it. Because of the lack of mobility on these long flights they have been linked to an increase risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Pregnant women are already more vulnerable to this because the expanding uterus restricts blood flow.
Later in pregnancy, you need to weigh up where you are flying to and take into account the medical facilities that would be open to you should anything happen.
Whatever stage of your pregnancy and however far you fly there are certain precautions you can take to reduce the risk of DVT and have a more comfortable journey.
Sit in an aisle seat so you can walk up and down regularly and, when seated, be sure to flex and relax your ankles and leg muscles to keep the blood moving. Wear in-flight stockings that will encourage the blood flow to your legs, loose clothing and comfy shoes.
Drink lots of water to avoid getting hydrated and make sure your seatbelt falls low across your bump.
Don’t worry about the cabin pressure in the plane affecting your baby. Your heart rate and blood pressure will naturally increase so that you take in all the oxygen you and your baby need. For that reason, it is better to avoid travelling in under-pressurised small planes as your body would have to work even harder to get the oxygen you need.
Now tell us what worked for you…
Did you fly while you were pregnant?