A Guide to Flying While Pregnant

Thousands of pregnant women travel by air every single day. It’s natural to take a more cautious approach to things when you’re expecting, and question whether otherwise-ordinary activities are in the best interests of you and your baby.

The good news is that, so long as you’re both healthy and your due date isn’t too soon, you’re permitted to fly and doing so shouldn’t cause you any problems.

Here, we’ll outline the rules and advice clearly, so you can ensure everything goes smoothly when you travel while pregnant.

Can I fly while pregnant?

In short, yes. For most of your pregnancy, you’ll be absolutely fine to fly. There’s no evidence at all that travelling by plane will cause or spur on any problems for you or the baby.

Come week 28, most airlines will require you carry some form of documentation that confirms you’re in a fit and healthy state. Some airlines will accept a simple doctor’s letter or note, whereas others (including Ryanair) will ask that your doctor fill in the airline’s own ‘fitness to fly’ medical form. Whichever option is required, the document will need to confirm your due date, that you’re healthy enough to fly and that there are no known complications with your pregnancy.

In most cases, this form will need to have been completed sometime within the 10 days prior to your travel. Because of this, you’ll want to arrange your doctors’ appointment sooner rather than later if a flight you’ve got booked falls more than 28 weeks into your pregnancy. You don’t want to risk not being able to get in to see them in the run up to your flight; as this could result in you being unable to travel.

Seek out doctor's advice before flying

If you’ve experienced complications with your current or a previous pregnancy, it’s important you seek the guidance of a doctor before you fly. If you’ve experienced issues such as gestational diabetes or hyperemesis gravidarum during your current pregnancy, or early labour or miscarriage in the past; it’s important you speak to your doctor and heed their advice.

At weeks 35 or 36, all airlines will deem you too heavily pregnant to fly. If you’re expecting twins or triplets, this limit is slightly sooner, at 32 weeks.

What about insurance?

Whatever stage of pregnancy you’re at, it’s vital you check your travel insurance policy before you go anywhere. Depending on your insurer, you may not be covered beyond a particular point in your pregnancy, while some insurers may exclude pregnant women from cover altogether.

If you find this to be the case, you should look to arrange alternative travel insurance as soon as possible. There will be costs involved, but for common sense and peace of mind, it’s a no-brainer.

Should I be travelling?

If you’re healthy and meet your airline’s regulations, whether or not you should be travelling is a question only you can answer. Depending on your destination, medical provision – should you need it – can vary in quality. And even where it’s excellent, you won’t have your usual GP or midwife to hand, which some parents-to-be find a little daunting.

Particularly at the early stages of your pregnancy when sickness and nausea is at its worst, you should weigh up whether these symptoms might make a journey intolerable for you, particularly if it’s a long-haul trip.

Enjoy your holiday

At the same time, however, there’s absolutely no need for a pregnancy to stop you from having your next adventure. Life’s too short for you to spend nine months out, avoiding the sunny breaks and weekend getaways you deserve. Naturally, pregnancy can make holidays a little more complicated, but rarely to the point that your trip isn’t worth making.

Top tips for flying while pregnant

While flying during pregnancy is completely safe, there are a few things you can do to keep you and the baby in top condition, and feeling as comfortable as possible.

  • Book an aisle seat. Most airlines will allow you to pick your seat in advance. Even if this costs a small fee, it’ll likely be worth it. You’ll appreciate the extra space and easy bathroom access.
  • Stay hydrated. Because cabin air is very dry, it can start to dehydrate you after a while. Everyone needs to stay hydrated when travelling, but it’s especially important when you’re pregnant. Keep a water bottle to hand, and remember to drink every hour or so.
  • Move around. Long-haul flights present a risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT). There’s mixed evidence as to whether pregnant women are at heightened risk, but it makes sense to do what you can to avoid it either way. Make sure you take a walk up and down the aisle every now and then, and consider wearing DVT socks. Your ankles are prone to swelling when pregnant, flight or no-flight, so keep an eye out for this too.
  • Bring your own snacks. Pregnancy hunger pangs can take you by surprise, so you don’t want to be relying only on your in-flight meals to see you through. Pack a few snacks in your hand luggage in case hunger strikes.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. Getting comfortable when pregnant isn’t always easy, so the last thing you need is tight and restrictive clothing adding to the challenge. Pick loose pieces and soft shoes to see you through your flight.

Enjoy a break even when you’re expecting, with flights from Manchester Airport.