Can I fly while pregnant?

Want to get in a vacation or business trip before the baby comes? Traveling during pregnancy, especially during the second trimester, can be a nice way to enjoy the precious time before baby and traveling with a partner can create special memories of simpler times. But it is safe to fly while pregnant? 

There is a fairly universal consensus in both the medical and air travel industries that travel up to the 36th week of pregnancy is perfectly safe. Exceptions are women with cardiovascular or respiratory issues, which can be intensified during air travel. All women should first consult with their birth professional before making the trip to discuss concerns and receive the green light. Keep scrolling for tips to make your trip as enjoyable as possible. 

What about flying during the third trimester? 

There is obvious reason to avoid air travel during your third trimester. If you go into labor or have any type of labor-related symptoms, you will not be able to get the medical attention that you need or want. Imagine being over an ocean when you experience your first Braxton Hicks contraction and not being able to call your doctor or midwife, or simply the discomfort of being in close quarters with strangers when it happens. 

If there is any way to bump up a trip to the end of your second trimester, you should. Otherwise, it is important that you consult with your medical professional to discuss the risk potential and also carefully study your intended airline’s policies. 

Four airlines and their policies on flying while pregnant

American Airlines: Traveling on a domestic flight within four weeks of a fight (either leg) will require a note from your physician stating you have been examined recently and given clearance. Once you reach the 7-day period around your due date, you will not be permitted to travel. 

International travel within one month of your due-date will require a note from your doctor stating that you have been examined in the last 48 hours and are safe to fly. You will also be required to book your trip with the help of a special assistance coordinator who will send the forms directly to your doctor. 

Delta Airlines: Delta does not impose any restrictions on travel for women flying while pregnant, but does not refund tickets due to pregnancy-related events, either.

United Airlines: After the 36th week of pregnancy, a woman is required to submit two copies of a doctor’s certificate stating an examination has taken place within the last 72 hours and that clearance to fly has been given. Additionally, the due date must be after the last flight of the itinerary. 

Southwest Airlines: While the airline does not have any official policy for pregnant passengers, it does recommend against air travel after the 37th week of pregnancy and advises that pregnant women may be asked not to sit in an emergency aisle. 

Tips for preparing to fly while pregnant:

  • In the lead up to your flight do anything you normally do to prevent sickness. Get extra sleep, drink extra water, and anything that you know works for you. 
  • Avoid foods that cause you gas or bloating, as air travel is known to exacerbate the issue. 
  • Take a probiotic to aid in healthy digestion and ward off bloating.
  • Upgrade! You will love the extra space that a business class or roomier section allows you when flying while pregnant.
  • Pack healthy snacks, and lots of them! Don’t leave this to chance. You may find that during your pregnancy you are more picky about what you like, so don’t rely on what is available at the airport or on your flight. 
  • Check your insurance. You will want to make sure to know out of state coverage and may need an extra policy if you are going overseas. 

During your flight:

  • If you have started wearing a lap belt, you will probably enjoy wearing it on your flight, no matter how long or short. 
  • Because circulation can be hindered during air travel, wearing compression socks may be very comforting, and they will keep you warm on a chilly plane. 
  • To promote circulation make sure to get up and walk the aisles as often as possible. Even standing next to your seat is better than sitting the entire flight. 
  • Drink up! Air travel is known to be dehydrating. Take extra measures to make sure you and baby stay nice and hydrated. You may want to ask the flight staff to fill your water bottle before the flight begins so that you don’t have to request a new (and tiny) cup of water each time you need it. 

After your flight:

  • If you can get a prenatal massage in the first days after you fly it may be good for addressing any sore spots from the trip and to promote healthy circulation. 
  • Keep a healthy routine, sometimes the negative effects of flying don’t show up for a day or two. Pay special attention to your immunity.