Maybe you just found out that you have a little baby on the way and you are already excited for that new family member. But wait…you already planned a trip for your long-awaited holidays in a couple of weeks. With palm trees, sunshine and a wonderful beach…What now? Can you go on your flight? How Far into pregnancy can you fly?
This is a very common question that effects thousands of soon-to-be-mothers every year. Early on in pregnancy as well as throughout and at the end of it. So it is time for some clarity.
I did my research on that and will give you a detailed answer to everything you have to know.
But first, here is the quick answer if you want to know how far in pregnancy you can fly without worrying too much:
If you go through a healthy pregnancy without any complications and your doctor gives the green light, there shouldn’t be any problems or consequences to fly at any point in your pregnancy. There are no restrictions on how far into a pregnancy you can fly, except the ones that your chosen airline might have decided.
However, doctors do advise that the second trimester might be the best for you to take a plane flight.
What You Should Know
So in this article, I will tell you about the possible risks of flying in each trimester and also give you some tips for a pleasant and comfortable flight without complications in your pregnancy.
This article will also be a part of a special about flying for moms and dads. During pregnancy (this article right here), the rare and crazy case what happens when you give birth during a flight (and what that could perhaps mean for the nationality of your baby) and at last, an article about flying with your newborn.
So stay tuned for this and make sure to check this website if you are interested!
OK, but now back to the topic and what you should know if you are planning to fly during your pregnancy!
Can Flying In The First Trimester Cause A Miscarriage
There are no records of any connections between taking flights during the first trimester and miscarriage.
However, in the first 12 weeks of a pregnancy, it is typical for a woman to feel more tired than before. It is a new and extreme situation for your body as well and costs energy. Also, the well-known phenomena of nausea, aka morning sickness start to kick in.
These things can make a flight more stressful. And if other aspects add up, it could be more dangerous for a successful pregnancy.
Whether if you take a flight or not, the risk of a miscarriage is higher in the first 3 months of a pregnancy.
So maybe think twice if you want to take a flight – especially a long-time flight that might be more than 10 hours or so – in the first trimester.
Flight Attendants, Cosmic Radiation, And Miscarriage
Researchers who studied miscarriage data of flight attendants found out, that if they would fly more than 15 hours during normal sleep hours in the first trimester, the risk of a miscarriage increases.
It could not be completely clarified, if these results are attributed to the fact that the attendants were up in the air and exposed to background cosmic and solar particle event radiation or the fact that they had high physical job demands. Including standing and walking for more than 8 hours a day and bending at the waist more than 25 times a day. (Source)
The amounts of cosmic radiation might be questionable for crewmembers, that spend a lot of time up in the air. As a casual traveler, even in pregnancy, you don’t need to worry about this.
Flying In Your Second Trimester – The Best Time For A Flight!
During my research on this topic, I found 2 statements pretty much everywhere I looked.
- If you don’t have any complications so far and a healthy pregnancy, you can basically fly at all times during your pregnancy
- The probably absolute safest time to fly would be in the second trimester
While you and your body have to get used to being pregnant during the first weeks, the body stress can increase the closer you come to the finish line. Therefore, you should feel most comfortable to take the extra stress of a flight in the second trimester. In other words, from week 13 to 24 of your pregnancy. This is what experts recommend.
Simply put, the risks of common pregnancy emergencies are the lowest in this time period.
Can You Fly In Your Third Trimester
As stated before, also a flight in the third trimester and therefore the last weeks of pregnancy, is fine. As long as there were no complications before and it has been a healthy pregnancy so far, there won’t be an additional risk.
Always consult your doctor before you make any decisions though, so you can be 100% sure about your conditions.
But the only thing holding you back now could be some airline restrictions. Because some companies might have their own specific rules and for example prohibit women to fly with them, if they already passed week 36 of pregnancy or another specific time.
This is not because of higher risks of harming the unborn baby, but more the trouble it would be if a woman has to give birth up in the air.
That might be a cool story for mommy and baby later on, and could also have interesting outcomes for the babies nationality, but it is very understandable that airlines (as well as most pregnant women) don’t want to go through this hassle.
Just google ‘airline pregnancy policy‘ plus the name of your the airline you want to chose to find out about their individual restrictions.
If nothing comes up, give them a call and ask the service hotline. Investing those 10 minutes to get clarity is without a doubt better than a bad surprise at the check-in.
It might be required, to bring a medical record of the pregnancy and/or a certificate from your doctor to the airport. This states that there are no issues or additional risks for you and your baby.
Here are some examples of major airlines and their restrictions about pregnant women on their flights.
Tips For Flying During Pregnancy
There a few things you can do to not only make your flight more pleasant but also reduce any health risk for you or your unborn child. Here are our tips for flying during pregnancy:
- Due to the risk of blood clots, try to move your body often during long-distance flights. Make sure a good blood circulation is guaranteed.
- If possible, take an aisle seat! Not only for the reason mentioned above but also because you might need to use the toilet more often.
- Drink loads and loads of water. Always a little more than enough. Make sure to minimize the risk of dehydration and constipation. Bring snacks and eat enough.
- Pregnant women are more likely to get swollen feet in an airplane. You can prevent this by often walking a few steps during a long flight, Some women who made the experience to fly in late pregnancy recommend to wear travel or compression socks.
If you never used them, try this top product from Amazon.
They will compress your veins and keep the blood flowing.
Blood Clots From Flying Pregnant
As mentioned in the paragraph before, the probably biggest risks for a pregnant woman on a plane are blood clots. They can form in veins of your leg and cause pain, inflammation, and swelling. Therefore, this is also known as ‘Deep Vein Thrombosis‘, or short: DTV.
Besides those immediate reactions, in a worst-case scenario, those blood clots can also dislodge, move through your system and block blood supply to organs like the lungs.
First of all, the risk of DTV is higher in planes, due to the fact of being immobile for long periods.
Second of all, the risk also increases during pregnancy.
As pointed out before, the best things you can do to prevent this is
- Stay Hydrated.
- Move from time to time and walk a little bit around (every 30 to 60 minutes)
- Waer compression socks.
If you do those things, you minimize the risk of those blood clots and complications for you and your baby.
What About Cabin Pressure?
Air pressure in airplanes is lower than outside on the ground at sea level. So it is actually comparable to standing on a high mountain or a place with higher altitude in general.
A non-commercial flight in a small plane, for example, would not be advisable for a pregnant woman. In an unpressurized airplane, the oxygen level might be dangerously low for your unborn baby, if a certain altitude is reached.
On a normal commercial flight, you totally don’t need to worry about that.
Are Airport Scanners A Safety Issue For Pregnant Women?
That question might have crossed your mind. You see those massive scanners and think about the technic that is being used there to scan every millimeter of a person’s body, to see if they bring something inappropriate or even dangerous on a plane.
But to ease your mind, those scanners are perfectly fine to walk through, also in pregnancy. The exposure caused by those detectors is so low leveled that there is no risk to be expected.
The relatively new full-body scanners should also be no problem. But some doctors might recommend to avoid them since some risks for pregnant women might not have been discovered yet. If you are unsure, ask for a physical pat-down check instead.
As you can see, as long as you talked about it with your doctor before and had no complications or signs of an unusual pregnancy, it is fine for you and your baby to fly at any time.
Only the airline restrictions could cross your plans, so make sure to check their policies.
Other than that, you are good to go now! 🙂
Make sure to also check our shop, as well as other interesting articles on our site.
And hey, if you will be a mother soon, you should definitely have a look at our super funny baby Onesies! Laughter guaranteed! 😉
And now, enjoy your flights and see you in the next article!