Travelling and flying while pregnant can be an amazing experience and just as much fun as those pre bump adventures! As we awaited Jake’s arrival we continued with our travels and planned our flights around keeping our ever growing bump safe. Jake made it to Namibia, South Africa, Spain, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Austria, Slovenia and Northern Ireland on our pre baby trips and we wanted to share what we learned about flying while pregnant.
Is it safe to fly while pregnant?
It’s a wholly personal decision and we spent a huge amount of time deliberating over our choice to travel and fly for leisure. From what we read, there is no evidence that flying or being in a pressurised cabin while pregnant is harmful to an unborn baby. Metal detectors and body scanners are often a concern but the level of radiation is considered low and not a risk during pregnancy. If you prefer, you can ask if there is an alternative like a pat down.
Flying while pregnant tip: there’s lots of information available online so if flying or airport scanners are a concern, research and make the best decision for your pregnancy.
Flying while Pregnant: Thinks to Consider
Before you book flights
It’s important to ensure you have everything in check before you book flights for during your pregnancy. There are a number of things you need to confirm including travel insurance, medical approval and any documentation required to allowed you to fly.
1 | Check/purchase travel insurance
We recommend always purchasing travel insurance in advance of travel to ensure you are taken care of in the case of any surprise event – you most definitely want to be fully covered if the baby makes an appearance in the skies! Always confirm that the travel insurance policy covers any pregnancy related care and check if there are any restrictions on the week of pregnancy to which the cover applies. For example, many policies only cover flying up to a certain number of weeks into the pregnancy.
Flying when pregnant tip: morning sickness and tiredness can put a dampener on flying in the first 12 weeks so tread carefully when making plans during this period. Airlines and travel insurance often place restrictions on when flying s allowed/covered so this will likely limit travel plans towards the end of your pregnancy.
2 | Run your flight plans by your doctor
If your pregnancy is free from complications it is typically fine to fly but be sure to check with your doctor or maternity team in advance of booking flights.
3 | Check if you need medical confirmation to travel
Airlines often require written confirmation from your medical team regarding the number of weeks of pregnancy and a lack of complications. The requirements differ from airline to airline so check the rules of each individual carrier you plan to use during your pregnancy and ensure you meet their requirements both at time of departure and return.
4 | Consider the length of the flight
Combine frequent toilet breaks, restless legs, a slightly higher risk of DVT (embrace the compression socks!) and general discomfort and long haul flights can be a challenge while pregnant. You may want to limit the flight time to your destination to a duration you a comfortable with. We limited our later holidays to a maximum flight time of 5 hours which was manageable with plenty of stretching and walks through the cabin.
Pre flight Planning
5 | Seat Selection
Depending on how you feel in your pregnancy now might be the time to splash out on an upgrade or some extra legroom. At the very least be sure to check in early and grab an aisle seat so you have the freedom to move around as you please – this will be especially beneficial if you’re at the stage of making frequent toilet trips!
6 | What to wear
Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes which allow for swelling. Wearing layers will help deal with the varying temperatures in the airport and on board as well as the pregnancy temperature extremes!
7 | Purchase compression socks
Pregnancy is thought to cause a slightly increased risk of blood clots so grab a pair of compression socks to wear during the flight. Compression socks can reduce the risk of blood clots by helping circulation and will minimise swelling.
Flying when pregnant tip: After the flight keep an eye out for any leg pain or swelling and, if you are concerned, seek medical attention.
8 | Bring some snacks for the flight
Cereal bars and dried fruits are great snack options for flight. Pack supplies of your favourite snacks and remember to keep them in your hand luggage for easy access during the flight.
On the Plane
9 | Stay active during the flight
Sitting stationary can increase the risk of blood clots so take regular walks around the cabin and do in air calf exercises while you sit. Simple things like writing the alphabet with your feet, stretching and pushing your feet off the floor can all help.
10 | Drink lots of water
The air supply in the cabin contains very little moisture. It’s important to stay hydrated so bring some bottled water on board and take regular drinks.
11 | Mind the bump
When you fasten your seat belt ensure the strap sits below the bump.