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Flying during pregnancy

Flying during pregnancy

During your first (up to 12 weeks) and second trimesters (12-27 weeks) you are very safe to travel in an aeroplane without any airlines having any issue with you flying whilst pregnant.  However you should always discuss with me if you have had any spotting, diabetes, high blood pressure or a previous premature birth.

Generally if you’re carrying one baby and you’ve had an uncomplicated pregnancy then the airlines will let you fly internationally up to 36 weeks of pregnancy and up to 32 weeks if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy with twins or more.

However, you do need to check with individual airlines, as some would prefer not to carry women who are more than 28 weeks pregnant due to the risk of premature labour. For domestic travel, if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy with a single baby you may not be restricted at all. Check with your airline before you book to prevent delays.

Of course your destination needs to be taken into consideration. Remember there is a small chance of having your baby early. So you need to be prepared in the event that this happens. My general advice is after 28 weeks its best to travel only within Australia, especially if you are contemplating a babymoon. After 36 weeks is probably best not to travel given you are closer to your due date.

I have checked the major airlines in Australia on their rules and they stated the following:

JETSTAR: If you are over 28 weeks you need to carry a medical certificate from your doctor that is no more that 10 days old, stating your due date, whether itsa single or multiple pregnancy, and that there are no complications with the pregnancy.  They strongly recommend you do not travel in the last 2-3 weeks of your pregnancy.

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA: Same as Jetstar however they are very specific about length of flights when pregnant, and will not allow you to fly the following flights:

Flights greater than 4 hours

  • Single pregnancy – after the 36th week
  • Multiple pregnancy – after the 32nd week
  • Within 48 hours of delivery Normal Vaginal Delivery (NVD)

Flights less than 4 hours

  • Single pregnancy – after the 38th week
  • Multiple pregnancy – after the 36th week
  • Within 48 hours of delivery Normal Vaginal Delivery (NVD)

QANTAS: exactly the same as Virgin with the exception that they will allow you to travel within 7 days of your delivery date with medical clearance (a letter from Dr Joseph).  They also state that infants cannot travel for 48 hours after delivery and need Medical Clearance to travel between 3 and 7 days after delivery.

Other considerations:

Some countries place limitations on the entry of non-national pregnant women. It is best to check with the local consulate to confirm their country specific requirements. Also for some of destinations thatrequire travel vaccinations, you need to check that the vaccinations can be given to pregnant women.  Once you know where you’re travelling, check with me and I can advise you the best course of action.

You also need to check with your travel insurance, as they vary so much regarding at what stage in pregnancy they will cover you for any medical issues.  You could even be covered on the journey out, but not on return, so all these details need to be carefully reviewed. I can discuss with you the likelihood of this and what services you could require in the event of any medical issues whilst overseas.It’s also important to note that you should not fly in small planes that don’t have pressurised cabins.

The airline policies and insurance aren’t theonly restrictions you should consider. It never takes long to get uncomfortable in an aeroplane seat, and it takes even less time when you’re pregnant.

Flying during pregnancy can slightly increase your risk of thrombosis (blood clots) and varicose veins.  Wearing support stockings (not tights, which increase your risk of developing thrush) when you fly will help keep your circulation flowing and relieve swollen veins.  It’s also possible to buy knee-high socks which are specially designed for flying.  For maximum protection, put the stockings or socks on before you get out of bed in the morning and keep them on all day.

You may also have heard that exposure to natural atmospheric radiation while flying can increase the risk of miscarriage or abnormalities in unborn babies. Pregnant flight attendants and business travellers who fly hundreds of times a year may have a slightly higher risk of both.  However, be assured that if you only fly a few times a year the risk is negligible.

Here are my tips to make travelling whilst pregnant as enjoyable as possible:

  • Request an aisle seat. You’ll have a bit more freedom get out of your seat without feeling like you’re disturbing other passengers.
  • For comfort and safety wear your seatbelt below your belly, around your hips
  • Choose a seat near the back so it’s a shorter trip to the toilet
  • Wear open shoes or slip-ons so, if your feet begin to swell, it’s easy to get them off
  • Moving around and stretching can help alleviate swelling in your feet and legs.
  • Stay hydrated and remember to pack snacks
  • Consider bringing ginger tea bags on board as some people find it helps with nausea
  • Think about adding a stopover to your long haul flight for a chance to rest and move around
  • Don’t book an emergency exit seat, when pregnant you are not permitted to sit there