If you are pregnant when taking a flight it can be an anxious time, however, if you have had a normal low-risk pregnancy there should be no problem. There is no significant risk directly associated with air travel during pregnancy and it will have no harmful effects even when flying at the later stages in your pregnancy.
The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) state:
“for women with an uncomplicated pregnancy and no medical or obstetric risk factors for complications that would contraindicate air travel, there is no indication to give advice against commercial air travel“.
Some mums-to-be prefer not to travel during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy due to nausea and as the risk of miscarriage is higher in the first 12 weeks.
Even though flying is considered to have no harmful effect on the mother or baby, you should always discuss your personal circumstances with your GP or midwife before making any arrangements.
You should also check with your insurance company and airline that you can travel with them before booking your ticket.
For safety reasons your airline will have restrictions when you cannot fly.
The main cause for concern is preterm labour, i.e. you may go into labour at any time, therefore in conjunction with International Air Travel Association recommendations, it is recommended not to fly after the 36th week of pregnancy.
When flying, some physiological changes occur which can be a cause of extra discomfort to a pregnant mother, such as travel sickness. If you are suffering from morning sickness, this may well have a bearing on your decision to fly.
You may also experience swelling in your legs due to a build-up of fluid, or ear and nose problems due to changes in cabin air pressure.
During any flight, you are relatively immobile which increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Although this risk remains small it is suggested that pregnant women flying from 4 hours or longer minimise this risk by wearing compression stockings.
It is a good idea to check that everything is clear for you to travel before you make any arrangements and below are some tips to follow:
You will need to let your airline’s customer service desk know if you are travelling after 28 weeks of pregnancy.
After the 28th week, you will need to complete a “Fit to Fly” letter signed by your GP or midwife. This will need to confirm
As a basic rule, you cannot travel after:
You need to ensure that your return flight is either before the end of the 32nd week or 36th week depending on whether you are pregnant with more than one baby or one.
If you are unsure whether to fly, the RCOG Patient Information Committee offer the following advice:
“To help decide whether or not to fly, women should think about how many weeks pregnant they will be, what facilities are available at their destination and whether it will increase their risk of medical problems.”
A commonly asked question is “Will flying harm me or my baby?”
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)state:
If your pregnancy is straightforward, flying is not harmful to you or your baby if:
Anyone who flies is exposed to a slight increase in radiation. Occasional flights are not considered to present a risk to you or your baby.
Vaccinations and medications which you can take during pregnancy can be a little confusing.
Some vaccinations which use live bacteria are not recommended during pregnancy. There is a risk that the bacteria or virus could affect your unborn baby. Inactivated vaccinations however are safe. You are advised to seek your doctor’s advice before taking any vaccines or medication.
Consult your midwife or GP for advice on all travel vaccinations including travel sickness medication.
Be cautious before taking any medication which may be prescribed to you whilst abroad.
You will also need to check before taking any treatment for stomach upsets or diarrhoea. Many of the drugs recommended for diarrhoea are not recommended for pregnant women.
If you have any doubts about your suitability to fly or if you have had any complications while pregnant please speak to your doctor before booking your flights.
Expectant mothers are free to fly up to 28 weeks of pregnancy. Once an uncomplicated pregnancy reaches its 28th week we require expectant mothers to carry a ‘fit to fly’ letter completed by their midwife or doctor.
We can’t allow expectant mothers to fly beyond the following dates:
For an uncomplicated single pregnancy, travel is not permitted beyond the end of the 36th week of pregnancy
For an uncomplicated twins, triplets etc. pregnancy, travel is not permitted beyond the end of the 32nd week of pregnancy.
A mother can be accepted for travel from 48 hours after the birth of her baby subject to having delivered without any complications or surgery. (We do not accept infants under the age of 8 days old).
If a caesarean section was performed or if surgery was needed for the mother then the minimum period before we could accept her for travel would be 10 days. However, this is also subject to approval for travel from her treating doctor.
We are not able to carry expectant mothers who are 34 or more weeks pregnant at the date of departure of their flight, including the date of return flights.
Expectant mothers who are between 28 and 34 weeks pregnant need to provide us with a doctor’s certificate confirming their stage of pregnancy and that they are fit to fly, failing which we reserve the right to refuse carriage. This certificate needs to be dated within 7 days of the outbound date of travel and 16 days of the inbound date of travel.
For your and your baby’s safety you cannot fly after:
After 28 weeks you must carry a confirmation from your doctor or midwife, such as a letter or certificate, in addition to your pregnancy record. This should be written within 7-10 days prior to travel and confirm your approximate due date, that you’re fit to travel and that there are no complications with your pregnancy.
This letter covers you for your entire journey unless there are any complications with your pregnancy that require medical intervention. Only then, would you be required to obtain an updated letter from the doctor that treated you.
Travelling while pregnant
Although pregnancy is not considered to be a medical condition and you are able to travel until quite late into your pregnancy please note that:
Expectant mothers wishing to travel with an infant on their lap are permitted to do so.