When Should You Stop Flying When Pregnant?

Written by Jana Angeles  

Let’s face it. You’re the adventurous type. There’s no way you can stay in one place for too long or you’ll get bored. This is what happens when you travel; you get to a new country, you begin to soak up the culture and the little quirks that make it what it is. After a few weeks of staying there, you’ve fallen in love with every single detail and history you’ve learnt along the way. As soon as you’re boarding the flight back home, you’re already jotting down the details of your next travel plans. Fast forward to another year yet things are a little different since then.  

You’re four months pregnant, but unsure if you’re fit to fly, but it’ll break your heart if you have to cancel your trip altogether. Two words: don’t panic! There are details you should know before boarding your flight while pregnant, but just because your journey of pregnancy has started, doesn’t mean the adventure has to be postponed. In this article, we share the important details of when you should stop flying when pregnant and other stuff you need to know. 

What’s the perfect time to fly when pregnant?  

  • During your second trimester, you’ll find it a lot easier to fly from place to place. Usually when you’re 14 to 23 weeks pregnant, you begin to get over the “morning sickness” phase of pregnancy and you’ll have more energy than never before. If you’re travelling for business, it’s the right time to pack in your schedule of meetings and travel if necessary. When pregnant, you can take advantage of packing light, saving you from the hassle of carrying heavy luggage. 
  • If you’ve had an uncomplicated pregnancy and you’re only carrying one baby, you can fly internationally from up to 36 weeks of pregnancy. With twins or more, it can be up to 32 weeks. Be aware though that some airlines have different rules and regulations for pregnant women, some do not accept women who are more than 28 weeks pregnant due to the fact that premature labour can happen at anytime (especially during long flights). For domestic travel, they are flexible so you may find that there are no restrictions at all.  

How can I make sure I don’t experience delays when boarding my flight?  

  • Get written permission by your doctor: Generally speaking, airline staff won’t question you when you’re pregnant, but if they are concerned over your safety, they will bar you from travelling. To help prevent this, get written permission by your doctor or midwife to let the airline staff know you’re safe for travel. The note should have the due date, the state you’ve been examined and confirms that you will not go into labour in the next 72 hours. 
  • Double check the travel policies before booking your flight: Ensure your airline accepts passengers that are pregnant. The last thing you want is to book a flight and not be able to board it. You should take into account how far along you’ll be when you board your flight back home.  

How do I keep myself comfortable during my flight? 

  • Wear support stockings or socks: Flying during pregnancy can increase your risk of thrombosis (blood clots) and varicose veins. It’s important to be prepared and wear support stockings/socks to prevent this. Wearing them during your flight can help your blood circulation when flying and can provide relief for swollen veins. For maximum protection, wear the support stockings in the morning before you fly. 

Other tips to keep in mind 

  • There is a risk of exposure to ‘natural atmospheric radiation’. This could lead to miscarriage or abnormalities to unborn babies. Pregnant flight attendants and business travellers are at high risk. If you only fly a couple of times a year, you are at low risk for this. 
  • Travel smart. Choose a destination where there is easy access to emergency services. It’s important that incase of an early contraction, you know where to go when you’re at your travel destination. 

Combining travel and being pregnant can be tough work for some mums, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Be mindful of your safety, but most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!