Your life changes in many ways when you become pregnant. Some of the things you used to do without thinking are now taboo, and you’re making important lifestyle changes that improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy and safe birth. But what about traveling? Can pregnant women fly? This is one of the most common questions asked during pregnancy. Pregnant women can, indeed, fly, but knowing the guidelines about pregnancy and air travel is important for keeping both you and your baby safe.
When Can Pregnant Women Fly?
The general rule of thumb is that for women with healthy pregnancies, flying is perfectly safe before week 36. However, there are a number of caveats to this rule.
First, it’s important to check with your doctor before flying, regardless of how far along you are or how uneventful your pregnancy has been so far. Some pregnancy complications, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, can be made worse by flying, and if you’re at risk for certain problems or you have a history of premature births, your doctor may caution against it.
Many airlines have their own guidelines about when pregnant women can fly, and these can vary by destination and carrier. However, most airlines don’t allow pregnant women to travel after 37 weeks.
The best time to travel during your pregnancy is in the second trimester, or between 14 to 27 weeks. By this time, morning sickness has typically passed, and you still have plenty of energy. You’re not big enough yet that your baby bump will cause discomfort—or questions from the airline—during your travels, and your risk of pregnancy emergencies is at its lowest.
What to Consider Before Booking Your Flight
Once you’ve got your doctor’s go-ahead, here are some important things to consider before booking your flight.
- Check the airline’s policies on pregnant travelers. Some airlines may require a note from your doctor after 28 weeks indicating that it’s okay for you to fly. You may be able to print a form from the airline’s website and have your doctor fill it out. Keep a copy of the letter in your carryon luggage in case airline staff have questions at the gate.
- Don’t forget to take into account how far along you’ll be on the return trip, and plan accordingly based on your doctor’s recommendation and the airline’s policies.
- Avoid flying on small planes that don’t have a pressurized cabin, which can make it harder to supply your baby with enough oxygen.
- Check whether your travel insurance will cover any pregnancy emergencies, and look into the medical facilities at your destination, just in case.
How to Stay Comfortable During Your Flight
For some, the question may not be can pregnant women fly? but rather, can pregnant women fly comfortably? The answer is probably, if you follow these tips.
- Wear compression socks to maintain optimal circulation during your flight. Flying while you’re pregnant may increase your risk of deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. To further reduce your risk of blood clots take a three-minute walk up and down the aisle every hour, or do some standing stretches.
- Arrange for an aisle seat if possible for extra leg room and to make it easy to get up and move around regularly. Check in early online, or get to the airport early so that you’re more likely to get your preferred seat assignment.
- Wear comfortable shoes, since your feet may swell during the flight. If you can put your feet up on an empty seat next to you, even better.
- Wear loose, unrestricted clothing, and dress in layers so that you can take things off if you get too warm.
- Drink plenty of water during your flight to avoid dehydration due to the dry air in the cabin.
Most importantly, relax and have fun. Getting away from it all for a while can be inspiring and rejuvenating, and if you plan ahead to avoid snags, a little trip can do wonders for your stress levels and mental health.