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Is it safe to fly during pregnancy?
Generally, air travel before 36 weeks of pregnancy is considered safe for people who aren't dealing with any pregnancy problems. Still, if you're pregnant, it's a good idea to talk with your health care provider before you fly.
Your provider might suggest that you not fly if you have certain pregnancy complications that could get worse because of air travel or that could require emergency care. Examples include a history of miscarriage or vaginal bleeding, severe anemia, and high blood pressure or diabetes that's not well controlled. If you had preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy — a condition that causes high blood pressure and extra protein in urine — flying may not be advised. The same is true if you're pregnant with twins or other multiples.
Tell your provider how far you are flying, as the length of the flight might make a difference. Also, be aware that some airlines may not allow pregnant people on international flights. Check with your airline before you make travel arrangements.
After 36 weeks of pregnancy, your health care provider may advise against flying. And some airlines don't allow pregnant people to fly after 36 weeks. The airline also may require a letter from your health care provider that states how far along in your pregnancy you are and whether flying is advised.
If your health care provider says it's okay for you to fly, and your plans are flexible, the best time to travel by air might be during the second trimester. The risks of common pregnancy emergencies are lowest during that time.
When you fly:
- Buckle up. During the trip, keep your seatbelt fastened when you are seated, and secure it under your belly.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Low humidity in the airplane could cause you to become dehydrated.
- Avoid gassy foods and drinks before you fly. Gases expand during flight, and that could make you uncomfortable. Examples of foods and drinks to avoid include broccoli and carbonated soda.
- Think about medical care. Plan for how you'll get obstetric care during your trip if you need it. Bring copies of your medical information in case you need care while you're away.
Air travel can raise the risk for blood clots in the legs, a condition called venous thrombosis. The risk is higher for pregnant people. Moving your legs may help prevent this problem. Take a walk up and down the aisle every hour during the flight. If you must remain seated, flex and extend your ankles from time to time. In general, it's best to avoid tightfitting clothing, as that can hinder blood flow. Wearing compression stockings can help with blood circulation during a long flight.
Radiation exposure linked to air travel at high altitudes isn't thought to be a problem for most people who fly during pregnancy. But pilots, flight attendants and others who fly often might be exposed to a level of radiation that raises concerns during pregnancy. If you must fly frequently during your pregnancy, talk about it with your health care provider.
Mary Marnach, M.D.
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- Allergy medications during pregnancy
- AskMayoExpert. Health considerations for air travelers: Pregnancy considerations. Mayo Clinic; 2022.
- Air Travel During Pregnancy: ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 746. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2018/08/air-travel-during-pregnancy. Accessed Dec. 1, 2022.
- Ram S, et al. Air travel during pregnancy and the risk of venous thrombosis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2022; doi:10.1016/j.ajogmf.2022.100751.
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Flying while pregnant? Here’s what you need to know
Editors note: This guide has been updated with the latest information.
During pregnancy, seemingly harmless things like eating deli meat and cleaning your cat's litter box are suddenly off-limits, along with more obvious restrictions on sports like skiing and scuba diving.
But what about "grey area" activities like flying in an airplane?
There's no single set of guidelines governing air travel during pregnancy and every airline has different restrictions, timelines and requirements. Some airlines may also require a medical certificate from a primary attending doctor or midwife for air travel during the final months of pregnancy, though even that varies, with U.S. airlines typically offering more flexibility than international carriers.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter .
In the absence of clear guidelines, TPG turned to Dr. Nithya Gopal , a board-certified OB-GYN physician and the Director of OB-GYN services at Viva Eve in New York City, for her expert recommendations on safe air travel during pregnancy.
Here's what she had to say:
Is it safe to fly when you are pregnant?
There is no evidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes due to flying, according to Dr. Gopal.
"The general consensus is that it is safest to fly in the first and second trimesters," Dr. Gopal told The Points Guy. "While the first and third trimesters tend to be when the most obstetric emergencies are going to happen, I personally become more cautious with my patients after 32 weeks because of the increased risk for premature labor and the possibility of needing urgent medical attention when you are in the sky."
The most important thing you can do, no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, is to consult with your healthcare provider before flying.
"Any time you are planning to fly during pregnancy , you should be having that conversation," Dr. Gopal said. Your provider will be familiar with any safety precautions you should take to ensure a safe and healthy flight.
Related: Guide to flying in each trimester of pregnancy
The airline you are flying may have its own cutoff, so you will want to confirm with it beforehand whether you will be allowed to fly if you are in (or nearing) your third trimester. We've included a chart below that outlines the rules for most major airline carriers.
What can you do to stay comfortable on a flight?
When you factor in morning sickness and general pregnancy discomfort with the increased risk for blood clots that all fliers need to be aware of, flying during pregnancy can be uncomfortable even when it is deemed safe.
Dr. Gopal shared her recommendations for addressing these common issues when you take to the (baby-) friendly skies during pregnancy. Her number one tip for staying comfortable while in flight is to wear compression socks to help maintain blood flow and reduce swelling in the legs.
In addition, "I also tell my patients to get up and move at least every hour when they are on the plane," Dr. Gopal said.
To prevent clotting, "some doctors may also prescribe a low-dose aspirin," she added. "It isn't something that is recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), but it isn't harmful, either."
If it's nausea or acid reflux that ail you, there are medications generally considered safe that you can take to alleviate your symptoms. These would be the same ones prescribed by your doctor for morning sickness, so speak with your provider before your flight to ensure you have what you need at the ready.
Dr. Gopal also advises wearing loose, unrestrictive clothing (along with your seatbelt, or course) and drinking extra fluids to counteract the pressurized air in the cabin and keep you hydrated.
"Over-the-counter Gas-X may also help with bloating that can happen as a result of the pressurized air," Dr. Gopal said.
Related: What happens when a baby is born in flight?
Must you speak with your healthcare provider before flying?
Even if your pregnancy is considered low-risk, it's always a smart idea to speak with your healthcare provider before flying. "There are a number of potential risks that go along with flying during pregnancy and those risks can change from week to week and month to month, so it's important to have that honest conversation with your doctor," Dr. Gopal said.
Related: Things You Should Do Before, During and After Flying to Stay Healthy
There are certain pregnancy conditions that may make flying more risky or unadvisable. If you are hypertensive, asthmatic or prone to clotting disorders, it's even more critical to speak with your doctor before flying.
Airline policies differ, but if you need documentation, it never hurts to include enough detail to satisfy the most stringent airline requirements.
"As with many things related to air travel, it's better to be safe than sorry," Dr. Gopal said. "It's definitely worth it, and sometimes necessary, to have medical documentation from your provider's office."
A thorough medical certificate or waiver should state:
- The number of weeks of pregnancy.
- The estimated delivery date.
- Whether the pregnancy is single or multiple.
- Whether there are any complications.
- That you are in good health and fit to travel through the date of your final flight.
Additionally, the certificate should be:
- Written on official clinic or hospital letterhead if possible.
- Signed by the doctor or attending midwife.
- Be dated no later than 72 hours before the departure date.
- Be written in clear, simple English.
Carry this certificate with you on your flight. Some airlines won't ask to see it, but others will. Some airlines also may have their own documentation requirements. See the chart below to find out which airlines require it.
Airline policies for pregnant women
Even though it may be deemed safe, flying during pregnancy can be uncomfortable — and it is perfectly acceptable to implement your own cutoff for flying with your baby bump in tow. The majority of the time, though, flying is perfectly safe during pregnancy, providing that you follow the guidelines of the airline and your healthcare provider. Read on to learn more about traveling before, during and after pregnancy:
- What to expect in every trimester of pregnancy
- 4 tips for planning travel while planning a pregnancy
- Babymoon boom! These are the top 10 spots for a US getaway before the baby comes
- Flying with a baby checklist
Additional reporting by Katherine Fan and Tarah Chieffi.
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Pregnant travelers can generally travel safely with appropriate preparation. But they should avoid some destinations, including those with risk of Zika and malaria. Learn more about traveling during pregnancy and steps you can take to keep you and your baby healthy.
Before you book a cruise or air travel, check the airlines or cruise operator policies for pregnant women. Some airlines will let you fly until 36 weeks, but others may have an earlier cutoff. Cruises may not allow you to travel after 24–28 weeks of pregnancy, and you may need to have a note from your doctor stating you are fit to travel.
Zika and Malaria
Zika can cause severe birth defects. The Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites and sex. If you are pregnant, do not travel to areas with risk of Zika . If you must travel to an area with Zika, use insect repellent and take other steps to avoid bug bites. If you have a sex partner who lives in or has traveled to an area with Zika, you should use condoms for the rest of your pregnancy.
Pregnant travelers should avoid travel to areas with malaria, as it can be more severe in pregnant women. Malaria increases the risk for serious pregnancy problems, including premature birth, miscarriage, and stillbirth. If you must travel to an area with malaria, talk to your doctor about taking malaria prevention medicine. Malaria is spread by mosquitoes, so use insect repellent and take other steps to avoid bug bites.
Make an appointment with your healthcare provider or a travel health specialist that takes place at least one month before you leave. They can help you get destination-specific vaccines, medicines, and information. Discussing your health concerns, itinerary, and planned activities with your provider allows them to give more specific advice and recommendations.
Plan for the unexpected. It is important to plan for unexpected events as much as possible. Doing so can help you get quality health care or avoid being stranded at a destination. A few steps you can take to plan for unexpected events are to get travel insurance , learn where to get health care during travel , pack a travel health kit , and enroll in the Department of State’s STEP .
Be sure your healthcare policy covers pregnancy and neonatal complications while overseas. If it doesn’t get travel health insurance that covers those items. Consider getting medical evacuation insurance too.
Recognize signs and symptoms that require immediate medical attention, including pelvic or abdominal pain, bleeding, contractions, symptoms of preeclampsia (unusual swelling, severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, and vision changes), and dehydration.
Prepare a travel health kit . Pregnant travelers may want to include in your kit prescription medications, hemorrhoid cream, antiemetic drugs, antacids, prenatal vitamins, medication for vaginitis or yeast infection, and support hose, in addition to the items recommended for all travelers.
Your feet may become swollen on a long flight, so wear comfortable shoes and loose clothing and try to walk around every hour or so. Sitting for a long time, like on long flight, increases your chances of getting blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis. Pregnant women are also more likely to get blood clots. To reduce your risk of a blood clot, your doctor may recommend compression stockings or leg exercises you can do in your seat. Also, see CDC’s Blood Clots During Travel page for more tips on how to avoid blood clots during travel.
Choose safe food and drink. Contaminated food or drinks can cause travelers’ diarrhea and other diseases and disrupt your travel. Travelers to low or middle income destinations are especially at risk. Generally, foods served hot are usually safe to eat as well as dry and packaged foods. Bottled, canned, and hot drinks are usually safe to drink. Learn more about how to choose safer food and drinks to prevent getting sick.
Pregnant women should not use bismuth subsalicylate, which is in Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate. Travelers to low or middle income destinations are more likely to get sick from food or drinks. Iodine tablets for water purification should not be used since they can harm thyroid development of the fetus.
If you traveled and feel sick, particularly if you have a fever, talk to a healthcare provider immediately, and tell them about your travel. Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.
CDC Yellow Book: Pregnant Travelers
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Here Are the Rules for Flying When You're Pregnant
Whether you're newly pregnant or planning a babymoon right before welcoming your baby, here's what parents-to-be need to know about airline travel during each trimester.
Expectant parents need to know: Can you fly when pregnant?
While it's mostly OK to travel until the last few weeks of pregnancy, there are some precautions to take depending on when you decide to book a trip and how high risk your pregnancy is. Here's what you need to know before your next vacation.
Pregnancy and Flying: Your Trimester by Trimester Guide
As a general rule of thumb, most airlines will allow pregnant people to fly right up until week 36 of pregnancy, but you should absolutely do your research before booking your flight to check restrictions. You'll also want to consult with your OB-GYN or midwife before traveling—especially if you're at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy.
Before you travel
While you may be accustomed to planning a vacation on a whim or only packing your usual necessities, there's one extra thing you should consider doing before booking a flight during your pregnancy: Opt for travel insurance.
Should travel restrictions change, your health care provider recommends you stay home, or if you experience any concerning symptoms —like bleeding, abdominal pain, swelling, headaches, vision changes, or decreased fetal movement—you'll want to postpone or cancel your plans and see your doctor as soon as possible.
According to the ACOG, travel is not recommended for pregnant people with certain complications like preeclampsia, premature rupture of membranes (PROM), or who are at risk of preterm labor.
Flying earlier on in pregnancy is actually considered pretty safe. And, no, metal detectors won't harm your fetus.
"Pregnant women can observe the same basic precautions for air travel as the general public," Raul Artal, M.D., former vice chairman of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Obstetric Practice, previously told Parents .
One thing pregnant air travelers should take extra precautions to avoid at any trimester? Blood clots, which pregnant people are 7 times more likely to develop—especially during long flights. To help minimize your risk, you can book an aisle seat, walk around every so often, and wiggle your legs and toes while seated.
And since morning sickness and fatigue might be your biggest first trimester complaints, you may want to check with your health care provider about bringing anti-nausea medicine with you.
According to the ACOG, "The best time to travel is mid-pregnancy (14 to 28 weeks). During these weeks, your energy has returned, morning sickness is improved or gone, and you are still able to get around easily. After 28 weeks , it may be harder to move around or sit for a long time."
If you're flying during your second trimester, it's a good idea to stay hydrated, think about wearing support stockings to reduce edema and clot risk, and make sure you've done your research on hospitals located near your destination should an emergency arise.
Carrying twins or more? Your health care provider might recommend you stop traveling earlier due to the higher risk of complications.
How late in pregnancy can you fly? If you're relatively healthy—and not at risk of complications like preterm labor, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or placenta previa—then you're usually OK to travel up until 36 weeks, though some OB-GYNs may prefer you stay closer to your home near the end should you encounter any complications or in case your baby comes sooner than expected.
High-risk patients—and especially those with pregnancy-induced hypertension, diabetes, and sickle-cell disease—may be advised not to fly after 24 weeks—or not at all.
Check with your doctor before traveling at the end of your pregnancy.
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Table of Contents
Is it safe to fly while pregnant?
Airline restrictions for pregnant passengers, when not to fly while pregnant, can you fly internationally while pregnant, tips for flying while pregnant, flying while pregnant, recapped.
Do you want to plan a trip but aren’t sure if you should hop on a plane when you’re expecting? Is it okay to fly while pregnant? How late can you fly pregnant internationally? What are the important considerations to factor in when booking?
The short answer: Flying while pregnant is possible, so long as you and your doctor align on what is safe for you and your baby.
That said, flying when pregnant may be a bit more complicated, especially if you’re planning a trip close to your due date. Here’s what to keep in mind when plotting your next air-based excursion and traveling while pregnant.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, most people experiencing healthy pregnancies can travel by air until quite close to their due date.
How close depends on several factors, including recommendations from your healthcare provider and airline rules, which vary between carriers.
So if you’re planning a trip, start by talking with your doctor before you book a ticket, as those experiencing high-risk pregnancies may be advised not to travel.
Your provider can perform an exam, check medical records and advise when, where and how far you should travel. Every pregnancy is different, and your doctor will consider your specific needs and concerns.
Keep in mind, you can travel during nearly any point in your pregnancy, though airline restrictions may prevent you from flying too close to your due date.
If you’ve been cleared to travel, ACOG recommends to do so is in the second trimester, between 14 and 28 weeks. That’s because any morning sickness may have lessened by then, and there’s a lower risk of miscarriage. Moving around or sitting for long periods in your last trimester can also become uncomfortable.
» Learn more : How to fly with your baby
Airline policies regarding pregnant travelers vary, but most don’t require any special documentation until late into pregnancy.
United Airlines allows pregnant travelers to board without medical documentation before their 36th week of pregnancy.
American Airlines allows pregnant passengers to fly without documentation up to four weeks before their due date.
Southwest Airlines doesn’t require any special documentation, but it doesn’t recommend travel after 38 weeks.
As you get closer to your due date, you’ll need to check with your airline, as many require special permissions to fly.
For example, on American Airlines you’ll need a doctor’s note to travel domestically within four weeks of your due date. For international travel, you’ll also need approval from a special assistance coordinator.
Airlines may provide specific guidance about what documentation is required, but typically this is a certificate from an obstetrician stating that you're fit for air travel for the dates of your trip.
Depending on the airline, the certificate might need to be dated within 48 or 72 hours of your scheduled departure, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
No matter which airline you’re flying with, check the restrictions and requirements if you’ll be booking close to the end of your third trimester.
While many pregnant travelers are fine to hop on a plane, there are others who should avoid air travel or be cautious about it.
This is especially true for those with the following conditions:
A history of blood clots or heart disease.
A history of miscarriage, premature labor or ectopic pregnancy.
Those carrying twins or other multiples.
First-time mothers who are over 35 years old.
This list is not exhaustive, which is why it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor to find out if air travel is safe for you.
Pregnant travelers should also choose their destinations carefully. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends expectant mothers stay away from any regions with a high risk of contracting Zika or malaria or any locales where live vaccines are required or recommended for travel.
How long should your flight be if you’re flying while pregnant? The United Kingdom’s National Health Service states that flying for longer than four hours carries a small risk of blood clots.
So not only will a shorter flight be more comfortable, it’s also safer for you and your baby.
According to the CDC, some airlines will let you fly internationally until 36 weeks, but others may have an earlier cutoff. Generally, it’s wise to check the individual airline’s policies related to flying internationally while pregnant.
For example, British Airways allows passengers with one baby to fly until the end of the 36th week (or the end of the 32nd week if you’re pregnant with more than one baby). Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines has no requirements for pregnant passengers and only recommends checking with your doctor before flying.
In short: How late you can fly pregnant internationally varies from airline to airline.
Consider purchasing a separate travel insurance policy or booking your trip with a credit card that offers coverage as a perk if you want more flexibility to adjust travel plans. Cancel For Any Reason coverage is an add-on option that can refund you anywhere from 50% to 75% of any upfront deposits, depending on your specific policy.
» Learn more: The best travel insurance providers
Flying while pregnant may look and feel different, so to make travel as enjoyable as possible, consider taking a few extra precautions before heading to the airport.
Talk to your doctor about vaccines and immunizations : Depending on where you’re headed, it’s important to make sure you’re up to date on important vaccines.
Reduce your risk of poor circulation : Stay hydrated, wear loose clothing, get up to stretch or walk the aisle often and talk to your doctor about whether you should wear compression socks.
Book an aisle seat : This will offer you the option to get up, move around and use the bathroom as often as you need without disturbing seatmates. Alternatively, use this time as an excuse to book a first class ticket .
Bring a well-stocked first aid kit : While every traveler could benefit from packing a first aid kit, pregnant travelers may want to add items like nausea medication, hemorrhoid cream, treatment for yeast infections, personal medicines and prenatal vitamins.
Know where the nearest hospital is at your destination : Hopefully, you won’t need to visit during your trip, but knowing where it is can help ensure you can get to medical treatment quickly if needed.
Consider buying travel insurance : Should complications happen when you’re far from home, including premature labor, travel insurance can bring peace of mind. It may also save you money if you need to return home quickly for medical reasons. Just make sure to get a travel insurance policy that suits your needs.
» Learn more : Does travel insurance cover medical expenses?
Flying while pregnant is acceptable for most people during most pregnancies.
That said, before you book your ticket, check with your doctor to make sure you’re cleared to travel. Additionally, look into airline restrictions and requirements and make plans to help you be more comfortable while flying.
Following these steps will help you have a safe and enjoyable experience, whether you’re flying across the country or around the world.
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How to Make Long Flights More Comfortable When You're Pregnant
By Joanna Carrigan
All products featured on Condé Nast Traveler are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Preparing for a newborn can feel like an exhilarating task; on the one hand, there’s a long-anticipated, already much-loved new arrival making an entrance into your life. On the other, getting yourself into a birthing headspace can feel like a marathon. I’ve already lost count of the amount of stroller reviews , hypno-birthing manuals, crib catalogs, and paint samples I’ve flicked through in my quest for newborn nirvana.
With that in mind, many couples are now opting to take a break from the organizational overload in the form of a long-haul babymoon —a pre-birth couples vacation—as a way of spending those last special moments together as a family of two. And in fact, air travel can generally be considered safe for most expectant mothers , with advice from your doctor recommended.
“All pregnancies and mums have individual needs and varying circumstances,” says Marie Louise, midwife and author of The Modern Midwife’s Guide To Pregnancy . “If mums have any health complications or are close to giving birth, travel should be very carefully considered. Otherwise, mums need a break—it’s good to enjoy and relax on your travels.”
Pregnancy can often feel like a long-haul adventure in itself, and whilst the thought of an extensive flight may not jump out at the top of your to-do list, there are ways to make that coveted trip—and any other air travel during pregnancy that comes up—more comfortable.
Below, I’ve curated an essential list for what to pack in your carry-on for air travel during pregnancy, based in part on my own experience traveling to Europe whilst expecting.
A great place to start is your carry-on itself, as the right style can help not only to make your essentials more accessible, but the correct product can be re-used as a diaper bag once your pre-baby vacation is a distant happy memory. The key to choosing the perfect carry-on is not only to be mindful of the airline guidelines set out around dimensions and weight restrictions, but to think from your own perspective about what will be easiest for you to carry. If back issues prevail—a common complaint during pregnancy—a stylish rucksack may be more suitable than a tote. And if you’re looking for post-pregnancy practicality, a duffel can tick that cross-functional box.
Pregnancy support bands
Glamour takes a back seat with this essential, but your posture and ligaments will thank me later. If you’re flying internationally or just maneuvering your way through a large airport, you may face long walks between terminals, which can place strain on the lower back. Bump support bands are designed to help relieve the pressure that the additional weight of your bump is putting on your back, and therefore can make a sensible addition to your carry-on packing list.
Anti-nausea pregnancy methods
Not every foray into the world of parenthood is a smooth one, and unfortunately nausea and sickness can play a starring role in pregnancy, especially in the early stages. My first 16 weeks of pregnancy were punctuated with frequent trips to the restroom, and with many flights taken during this time, I became accustomed to having to rely on a few tricks to see me through those difficult moments.
Travel bands can be an excellent way to relieve pregnancy related nausea, and they’ve taken a high-tech turn in recent years. Hypnotherapy podcasts can also be a calming way to reduce feelings of sickness, and are best listened to with noise-canceling headphones and an eye mask .
Hydrating skincare for expectant mothers
Pregnancy can present some interesting skincare dilemmas , with many people experiencing a change at some point across their nine months. Dry patches, oily T-zones, and acne outbreaks are all common complaints. To help skin stay hydrated when flying, there are many pregnancy-safe products out there which can help replenish and restore your skin's natural barrier. La Mer The Mist Facial Spray is a particular favorite of mine—easy to apply, super lightweight, and long-lasting.
During pregnancy, ligaments in the hips and back loosen in preparation for birth and this can often cause secondary strain across the top of the shoulders and neck which can be very uncomfortable for expectant mothers. If you’re traveling whilst pregnant, I recommend investing in a travel neck pillow , and packing your pregnancy pillow if you’re flying in a seat with a lie-flat bed.
“During pregnancy, you are at an increased risk of developing a blood clot,” Louise says. “That’s why compression socks , hydration, and movement—walking, stretching, and circling ankles—is recommended.”
Again, it’s not the most glamorous addition to your carry-on, but this footwear is important nonetheless. Try to stretch your legs every hour or so if possible, with a walk down the aisle or some lower leg exercises.
While packing a well-stocked carry-on will undoubtedly enhance your flying experience, there are other ways to ensure that you’re prepared for a relaxing trip. Here are my top three tips for flying while pregnant:
Food and beverage choices
Whilst it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see the full on-board menu in advance, it’s often a good idea to pre-select your meal genre if you’re having aversions or preferences during your pregnancy. Being able to rule out meat, dairy, or even opt for a lighter option may be preferable for some mothers-to-be. It could be worth packing a couple of extra snacks in your carry-on, just in case. I’ve been stashing ginger tea bags and plenty of dried fruit and nuts ( dried banana chips are a particular craving of mine) to see me through.
The airport experience
Lounge access can not only be an enjoyable way to kick-off your vacation, it can also be a lifesaver for tired feet. Having access to a clean and comfortable restroom can also often be advantageous, so if your travel tickets don’t include a lounge as standard, it could be worth a pay-for-access option to give you peace of mind that you’ll be spending time in a calm and restful environment before or in between flights.
Your travel outfit
While a stylish airport look is always desirable, comfort should definitely reign supreme during this important period, since your body is already coping with so much. Activewear can provide comfort and support during long-haul travel, and there are plenty of options out there. I look to brands like Alo Yoga and Lululemon for pieces that satisfy both the style and comfort stakes.
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Safety of Air Travel During Pregnancy
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Pregnancy was once seen as something that sent women to their homes once their bellies began to protrude (hence the term "confinement"). It was not considered appropriate for pregnant people to be seen in public.
Nowadays pregnancy rarely changes schedules, with the exception of high-risk pregnancies or other complications. People usually can continue their normal lives for the duration of the pregnancy, with minor exceptions (like knowing where all the bathrooms are!). Travel is no exception.
Travel is becoming more prevalent as families move further and further apart. Traveling for holidays, or as the last trip to see the family before the baby comes, or as a last romantic vacation, is not unusual. This includes out of the country travel and often air travel.
The Science on Pregnancy and Air Travel
For ethical reasons, there are not many studies on air travel and miscarriage rates. One 2015 study showed a slight increase in first-trimester miscarriage for flight attendants, but this was often associated with high physical job demands and disruptions to their sleep cycles.
In-flight radiation is also a slight risk for flight attendants. An estimated 2% of flight attendants are exposed to a solar particle event during their pregnancies, although the amount of radiation varies by length of time in the air, the routes flown, and so on. However, the risk to the average flier is negligible. The average 10-hour flight only exposes fliers to 0.05 mSv of radiation, or 1/1000th of the limit set by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Precautions for Air Travel During Pregnancy
Flying is fairly safe while pregnant, even for flight attendants, with some minor adjustments. There are, however, some issues to bear in mind if you are pregnant and considering multiple, frequent, or very long flights:
- Air travel is extremely dehydrating. You'll need to drink a lot of water while in the air.
- Air travel requires that you sit still for long periods. If you're likely to experience cramps or other pregnancy-associated issues, you may be quite uncomfortable.
- Airplanes are not equipped to handle in-air birth or pregnancy-related complications . Even if your airline permits travel, you may simply be smarter to stay on the ground if you're close to giving birth or are experiencing any pregnancy-related issues.
There are some precautions that a pregnant traveler should consider:
- Talk to your practitioner before flying. If you are more than 36 weeks pregnant, many airlines will not let you fly for fear that you'll deliver on board.
- Try to do the majority of your traveling in the second trimester . Not only will you be more comfortable, but in general the risks of miscarriage and preterm labor are lower.
- Avoid excessive flying. Although there are no hard and fast numbers, one study found that flight attendants with higher miscarriage rates flew on average 74 hours per month.
- Make comfort arrangements. Try to get seats with more legroom, plan to walk in the aisles, anticipate bathroom breaks, and bring water.
- Avoid travel to countries that would require immunizations that you don't already have or are that are not considered safe for pregnancy. Talk to your practitioner for more info on immunizations during pregnancy, as some immunizations are considered appropriate while pregnant.
- Because pregnant people are more vulnerable to COVID-19, you may wish to avoid unnecessary travel, particularly to high-risk areas.
So remember, flying is not contraindicated in an uncomplicated pregnancy, but use your common sense and speak to your practitioner about your travel plans.
Grajewski B, Whelan EA, Lawson CC, et al. Miscarriage among flight attendants . Epidemiology . 2015;26(2):192-203. doi:10.1097/EDE.0000000000000225
Hezelgrave NL, Whitty CJM, Shennan AH, Chappell LC. Advising on travel during pregnancy . BMJ. 2011;342:d2506. doi:10.1136/bmj.d2506
Zubac D, Stella AB, Morrison SA. Up in the air: Evidence of dehydration risk and long-haul flight on athletic performance . Nutrients . 2020;12(9):2574-2589. doi:10.3390/nu12092574
Cone JE, Vaughan LM, Huete A, Samuels S. Reproductive health outcomes among female flight attendants: An exploratory study . J Occup Environ Med. 1998;40(3):210-216.
Ellington S, Strid P, Tong VT, et al. Characteristics of women of reproductive age with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection by pregnancy status — United States, January 22–June 7, 2020 . MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69(25):769-775. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6925a1
By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.
Travel During Pregnancy
As long as there are no identified complications or concerns with your pregnancy, it is generally safe to travel during your pregnancy. The ideal time to travel during pregnancy is the second trimester . In most cases, you are past the morning sickness of the first trimester and several weeks from the third stage of pregnancy when you are more easily fatigued .
Is it safe to travel during pregnancy?
Traveling by air is considered safe for women while they are pregnant; however, the following ideas might make your trip safer and more comfortable.
- Most airlines allow pregnant women to travel through their eighth month. Traveling during the ninth month is usually allowed if there is permission from your health care provider.
- Most airlines have narrow aisles and smaller bathrooms, which makes it more challenging to walk and more uncomfortable when using the restroom. Because of potential turbulence that could shake the plane, make sure you are holding on to the seatbacks while navigating the aisle.
- You may want to choose an aisle seat which will allow you to get up more easily to reach the restroom or just to stretch your legs and back.
- Travel on major airlines with pressurized cabins and avoid smaller private planes. If you must ride in smaller planes, avoid altitudes above 7,000 feet.
- Although doubtful, the risk of DVT can be further reduced by wearing compression stockings.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the International Air Travel Association recommend that expecting mothers in an uncomplicated pregnancy avoid travel from the 37th week of pregnancy through birth. Avoiding travel from 32 weeks through birth is recommended for women who have complicated pregnancies with risk factors for premature labor, such as mothers carrying multiples.
Risk factors that warrant travel considerations include the following:
- Severe anemia
- Cardiac disease
- Respiratory disease
- Recent hemorrhage
- Current or recent bone fractures
Traveling by Sea During Pregnancy
Traveling by sea is generally safe for women while they are pregnant; the motion of the boat may accentuate any morning sickness or make you feel nauseous all over again. There are a few considerations to make your trip safer and more comfortable:
- Check with the cruise line to ensure that there is a health care provider on board in case there are any pregnancy complications .
- Review the route and port-of-calls to identify if there is access to any medical facilities if needed.
- Make sure any medications for seasickness are approved for women who are pregnant and that there is no risk to the developing baby.
- Seasickness bands use acupressure points to help prevent upset stomach and maybe a good alternative to medication.
International Travel During Pregnancy
Traveling overseas has the same considerations that local or domestic travel has, but it also has additional concerns that you need to know about before making an international trip. The information below is provided to help you assess whether an international trip is good for you at this time:
- It is important to talk with your health care provider before you take a trip internationally to discuss safety factors for you and your baby.
- Discuss immunizations with your health care provider and carry a copy of your health records with you.
- With international travel, you may be exposed to a disease that is rare here in the United States but is common in the country you visit.
- Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (800) 311-3435 or visit their website at www.cdc.gov to receive safety information along with immunization facts related to your travels.
- Diarrhea is a common concern when traveling overseas because you may not be used to the germs and organisms found in the food and water of other countries. This can lead to a problem of dehydration .
Here are some tips to avoid diarrhea and help keep you safe:
- Drink plenty of bottled water
- Used canned juices or soft drinks as alternatives
- Make sure the milk is pasteurized
- Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables unless they have been cooked or can be peeled (such as an orange or a banana)
- Make certain that all meat and fish has been cooked completely; if you are unsure, do not eat it
Travel Tips During Pregnancy
Whether you are going by car, bus, or train, it is generally safe to travel while you are pregnant; however, there are some things to consider that could make your trip safer and more comfortable.
- It is essential to buckle-up every time you ride in a car. Make sure that you use both the lap and shoulder belts for the best protection of you and your baby.
- Keep the airbags turned on. The safety benefits of the airbag outweigh any potential risk to you and your baby.
- Buses tend to have narrow aisles and small restrooms. This mode of transportation can be more challenging. The safest thing is to remain seated while the bus is moving. If you must use the restroom, make sure to hold on to the rail or seats to keep your balance.
- Trains usually have more room to navigate and walk. The restrooms are usually small. It is essential to hold on to rails or seat backs while the train is moving.
- Try to limit the amount of time you are cooped up in the car, bus, or train. Keep travel time around five to six hours.
- Use rest stops to take short walks and to do stretches to keep the blood circulating.
- Dress comfortably in loose cotton clothing and wear comfortable shoes.
- Take your favorite pillow.
- Plan for plenty of rest stops, restroom breaks and stretches.
- Carry snack foods with you.
- If you are traveling any distance, make sure to carry a copy of your prenatal records.
- Enjoy the trip.
Want to Know More?
- How to Treat Jet Lag Naturally During Pregnancy
Compiled using information from the following sources:
1. Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 5. William’s Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 8.
2. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Air Travel and Pregnancy (Scientific Impact Paper No. 1), https://www.rcog.org/uk, May 22, 2013.
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- Many healthcare professionals allow pregnant people to fly for the majority of their pregnancy, provided there are no known complications with the pregnancy, such as a ruptured placenta, gestational diabetes, or hypertension.  X Research source
- People who have previously experienced a miscarriage, premature delivery, fetal loss, stillbirth, or any of a number of other health risks may not receive approval from an obstetrician or midwife for travel by plane for any occasion during pregnancy, for fear that the current pregnancy is also high-risk.  X Research source
- Certain conditions during pregnancy may be aggravated by plane travel, and flying has an unknown effect on many other conditions, making many medical experts cautious of endorsing travel by plane for those experiencing high-risk pregnancies.  X Research source  X Research source
- Ensure the airline will support you. Shop around, if necessary, to find an airline that supports and assists pregnant people during travel by plane. Just as some airlines are more permissive than others, certain companies are also more responsive to the needs of pregnant passengers.  X Research source  X Research source
- Provided the airline has received notification of the pregnancy, some immediately offer choice seating, wheelchair escorts and other conveniences not routinely offered to most passengers.
- Flying during pregnancy can be a much more pleasant experience when your chosen airline treats pregnant passengers with care and respect, so choose wisely.
- The closer a person is to the expected delivery date, the less likely an airline will allow travel without the written consent of a physician or midwife (dated within a few days of the travel date). This is not only to limit their own liability but also to insure the safety and comfort of the person and the other passengers.  X Research source  X Research source
- Most airlines do not allow travel after 36 weeks gestation.  X Research source  X Research source
- Trans-national and trans-oceanic flights may make traveling when pregnant more difficult, as some airlines require a note from a physician or midwife any time after the 28th week of pregnancy indicating that there are no complications with the pregnancy.  X Research source  X Research source
- Tell your doctor about any problems you have had during your pregnancy, such as excessive nausea, pain in the pelvis , stomach, or abdomen, or other physical problems you have experienced. This is the only way your doctor can accurately assess whether or not you are fit to fly.  X Research source
- Be exact when providing the airline with a timeline for your pregnancy. Estimating how far along you are or deliberately misleading the airline so that they will allow you to fly could have potentially damaging effects on your health and the health of your unborn baby.  X Research source
Flying While Pregnant
- Inform the airline staff of the pregnancy and request the desired seat if the option is available. For instance, an aisle seat near the restroom may provide convenience for frequent trips to the toilet, while a seat at the bulkhead of the plane would offer extra legroom and personal space.  X Research source  X Research source
- People who have difficulty standing for long periods or walking considerable distances through the airport may also request wheelchair delivery and pick-up or escort on an airport indoor vehicle to drop them off and pick them up at the gate.
- Blankets and pillows are usually available upon request as well.
- On long flights, stewards and stewardesses may also provide certain luxuries to pregnant customers otherwise only reserved for first class patrons, such as hot towels, lotions, eye masks, and more.
- It is important to drink plenty of water during and after the flight; air travel can dehydrate, so fill up after security or request water once seated.
- For those traveling early in pregnancy, crackers and other snacks that may help quell nausea are vital.
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- Relax about radiation. Research has shown that you and your unborn baby are not at risk of being exposed to excessive or damaging radiation when going through airport security or traveling at high altitudes.  X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Don't worry about decreased oxygen levels on the plane. Experts agree that this should have no impact on an otherwise healthy pregnant person.  X Trustworthy Source Mayo Clinic Educational website from one of the world's leading hospitals Go to source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Pack lightly or check luggage. The hassle and difficulty of dragging heavy and cumbersome baggage around an airport can exhaust anyone; check bags at the curb or pack just a single bag that is light enough to carry or pull without struggling. Thanks Helpful 39 Not Helpful 12
- If medical difficulties occur in-flight, notify airline staff immediately and request the services of a doctor or medic among the other passengers. Try to remain calm and patient; services may not be available until the flight lands. In the case of true emergencies, a physician may sometimes be reached by phone for verbal assistance. Thanks Helpful 17 Not Helpful 10
- Travel by plane can be especially difficult in the first and third trimesters because of feelings of illness or fatigue. If possible, schedule travel during the second trimester, when most people experience a reduction in the uncomfortable symptoms of pregnancy. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
Things You'll Need
- Letter from a physician or midwife (depending on the airline’s policy)
You Might Also Like
- ↑ http://www.babycenter.com/0_traveling-by-plane-when-pregnant_6955.bc
- ↑ http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/travel.html
- ↑ http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/air-travel-during-pregnancy/AN00398
- ↑ https://www.britishairways.com/travel/searchba/public/en_us/?p_search_text=pregnant
- ↑ http://www.aircanada.com/en/travelinfo/before/youngtravellers/infant-child.html
- ↑ http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/air-travel-during-pregnancy/faq-20058087
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Air travel and pregnancy
Published: May 2015
Please note that this information will be reviewed every 3 years after publication.
Updated: May 2022
This information is for you if you are pregnant and are thinking of travelling by air.
This information is for you if you are pregnant and are thinking of travelling by air. It may also be helpful if you are a partner, relative or friend of someone in this difficult situation.
The information is relevant for short haul (under four hours), medium and long haul (over four hours) flights.
If you are a member of a flight crew or you fly frequently as part of your work, you should seek additional advice from your occupational health department concerning your own situation.
The information here aims to help you better understand your health and your options for treatment and care. Your healthcare team is there to support you in making decisions that are right for you. They can help by discussing your situation with you and answering your questions.
Within this information we may use the terms ‘woman’ and ‘women’. However, it is not only people who identify as women who may want to access this information. Your care should be personalised, inclusive and sensitive to your needs whatever your gender identity.
A glossary of medical terms is available at A-Z of medical terms .
- Occasional air travel during pregnancy is not harmful for you or your baby as long as you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy
- Long flights may increase your chance of developing a blood clot. There are things you can do to reduce your chance of this happening.
- It is important to check the healthcare facilities that are available at your destination, in case you need any emergency care.
If your pregnancy is straightforward, flying is not harmful for you or your baby:
- If you have a straightforward pregnancy and are healthy, there is no evidence that the changes in air pressure and/or the decrease in humidity have a harmful effect on you or your baby.
- There is no evidence that flying will cause miscarriage, early labour or your waters to break.
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
When you are pregnant, the safest time to fly is:
- Before 37 weeks, if you are carrying one baby. From 37 weeks of pregnancy you could go into labour at any time, which is why many women choose not to fly after this time.
- Before 32 weeks, if you are carrying an uncomplicated twin pregnancy.
It is important to know that most obstetric emergencies happen in the first and third trimester .
Most airlines do not allow women to fly after 37 weeks. It is important that you check with your airline before flying. It may also be more difficult to get travel insurance after 37 weeks.
Some pregnant women may experience discomfort during flying. You may have:
- swelling of your legs due to fluid retention (oedema)
- nasal congestion/problems with your ears – during pregnancy you are more likely to have a blocked nose and, combined with this, the changes in air pressure in the plane can also cause you to experience problems in your ears
- pregnancy sickness – if you experience motion sickness during the flight, it can make your sickness worse.
A DVT is a blood clot that forms in your leg or pelvis. If it travels to your lungs (pulmonary embolism) it can be life threatening. When you are pregnant and for up to six weeks after the birth of your baby, you have a higher risk of developing a DVT compared with women who are not pregnant (for more information please see the RCOG patient information Reducing the risk of venous thrombosis in pregnancy and after birth.
There is an increased risk of developing a DVT while flying, due to sitting for a prolonged length of time. The risk of a DVT increases with the length of the flight. Your risk is also increased if you have additional risk factors such as a previous DVT or you are overweight. Your midwife or doctor will be able to check your individual risk.
If you are taking a short haul flight (less than four hours), it is unlikely that you will need to take any special measures. Your midwife or doctor should give you an individual risk assessment for venous thrombosis and advice for your own situation.
To minimise the risk of a DVT on a medium or a long haul flight (over four hours), you should:
- wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes
- try to get an aisle seat and take regular walks around the plane
- do in-seat exercises every 30 minutes or so – the airline should give you information on these
- have cups of water at regular intervals throughout your flight
- cut down on drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine (coffee, fizzy drinks)
- wear graduated elastic compression stockings – your midwife or doctor will need to provide the correct size and type for you as they are different from standard flight socks.
If you have other risk factors for a DVT, regardless of the length of your flight, you may be advised to have heparin injections. These will thin your blood and help prevent a DVT. A heparin injection should be taken on the day of the flight and daily for a few days afterward. For security reasons, you will need a letter from your doctor to enable you to carry these injections onto the plane.
Low-dose aspirin does not appear to reduce the risk of a DVT but you should continue to take it if it has been prescribed for another reason.
A medical condition or health problem can complicate your pregnancy and put you and your baby at risk. For this reason, if any of the following apply, you may be advised not to fly:
- You are at increased risk of going into labour before your due date.
- You have severe anaemia. This is when the level of red blood cells in your blood is lower than normal. Red blood cells contain the iron-rich pigment haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around your body.
- You have sickle cell disease (a condition which affects red blood cells) and you have recently had a sickle crisis.
- You have recently had significant vaginal bleeding.
- You have a serious condition affecting your lungs or heart that makes it very difficult for you to breathe.
It is important that you discuss any health issues or pregnancy complications with your midwife or doctor before you fly. If have an increased chance of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, ask for an ultrasound scan for reassurance before you fly.
Be aware that the unexpected can happen while travelling which could delay your return home. Some airlines may not allow you to fly if you have fractured a bone, have a middle ear or a sinus infection or have recently had surgery to your abdomen that involved your bowel, such as having your appendix removed.
To help decide whether or not to fly, think about your own medical history and any increased risks that you may have. The following questions may also help you in making your decision:
- Why do you want to fly at this particular time?
- Is your flight necessary?
- How long is your flight? Will this increase your risk of medical problems?
- Your chance of going into labour is higher the further you are in pregnancy.
- It is also important to remember that having a miscarriage, whether you fly or not, is common (one in five) in the first three months of pregnancy.
- What are the medical facilities at your destination in the event of an unexpected complication with your pregnancy?
- Have you had all the relevant immunisations and/or medication for the country you are travelling to? Have you checked with your doctor about how these affect your pregnancy?
- Does your travel insurance cover pregnancy and/or care for your newborn baby if you give birth unexpectedly? There is huge variation among airlines and travel insurance policies so it is worth checking before you decide to fly.
- Have you discussed your travel plans with your midwife and informed them that you are thinking about taking a medium or long haul flight?
- If you are over 28 weeks pregnant, your airline may ask you to get a letter from your midwife or doctor stating when your baby is due and confirming that you are in good health, are having a straightforward pregnancy, and are not at an increased risk of complications.
- Any document needed to confirm your due date and that you are fit to fly. Some airlines have their own forms/documents that will need to be completed at any stage of pregnancy. Contact your airline if you are unsure.
If you are travelling to Europe, it is recommended that you apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This will allow you to access routine healthcare at a reduced cost, or for free. For more information on what the card covers and how to apply, see the GOV.UK website. .
You will have to go through the normal security checks before flying. This is not considered to be a risk to you or your baby.
You must wear a seatbelt. You should ensure the strap of your seatbelt is reasonably tightly fastened across the top of your thighs and then under your bump. Ask the cabin crew if you need a seatbelt extension.
Any pregnant woman has a small chance of going into labour early or for her waters to break early. If this happens to you on a flight, there is no guarantee that other passengers or crewmembers will be trained and experienced to help you give birth safely. As a result, the pilot may have to divert the flight to get help for you.
Flying while you are pregnant can be stressful. If you are feeling anxious or worried in any way, please speak to your healthcare team who can answer your questions and help you get support. The support may come from healthcare professionals, voluntary organisations or other services. Further information and resources are available on the NHS website:
- RCOG Scientific Impact Paper Air Travel and Pregnancy
- Tommy’s website: https://www.tommys.org/
If you are asked to make a choice, you may have lots of questions that you want to ask. You may also want to talk over your options with your family or friends. It can help to write a list of the questions you want answered and take it to your appointment.
Ask 3 Questions
To begin with, try to make sure you get the answers to 3 key questions , if you are asked to make a choice about your healthcare:
- What are my options?
- What are the pros and cons of each option for me?
- How do I get support to help me make a decision that is right for me?
*Ask 3 Questions is based on Shepherd et al. Three questions that patients can ask to improve the quality of information physicians give about treatment options: A cross-over trial. Patient Education and Counselling, 2011;84:379-85
Sources and acknowledgments
This information has been developed by the RCOG Patient Information Committee. It is based on the RCOG Scientific Impact Paper Air Travel and Pregnancy (May 2013), which contains a full list of the sources of evidence we have used. You can find it online here .
This information was reviewed before publication by women attending clinics in London, the Channel Isles and Northern Ireland, and by the RCOG Women’s Voices Involvement Panel.
A glossary of all medical terms is available on the RCOG website at: www.rcog.org.uk/womens-health/patientinformation/medical-terms-explained .
Please give us feedback by completing our feedback survey:
- Members of the public – patient information feedback
- Healthcare professionals – patient information feedback
Travelling in pregnancy
With the proper precautions such as travel insurance, most women can travel safely well into their pregnancy.
Wherever you go, find out what healthcare facilities are at your destination in case you need urgent medical attention. It's a good idea to take your maternity medical records (sometimes called handheld notes) with you so you can give doctors the relevant information if necessary.
Find out more about getting healthcare abroad .
Make sure your travel insurance covers you for any eventuality, such as pregnancy-related medical care during labour, premature birth and the cost of changing the date of your return trip if you go into labour .
When to travel in pregnancy
Some women prefer not to travel in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy because of nausea and vomiting and feeling very tired during these early stages. The risk of miscarriage is also higher in the first 3 months, whether you're travelling or not.
Travelling in the final months of pregnancy can be tiring and uncomfortable. So, many women find the best time to travel or take a holiday is in mid-pregnancy, between 4 and 6 months.
Flying in pregnancy
Flying isn't harmful to you or your baby, but discuss any health issues or pregnancy complications with your midwife or doctor before you fly.
The chance of going into labour is naturally higher after 37 weeks (around 32 weeks if you're carrying twins), and some airlines won't let you fly towards the end of your pregnancy. Check with the airline for their policy on this.
After week 28 of pregnancy, the airline may ask for a letter from your doctor or midwife confirming your due date, and that you are not at risk of complications. You may have to pay for the letter and wait several weeks before you get it.
Long-distance travel (longer than 4 hours) carries a small risk of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis (DVT)) . If you fly, drink plenty of water and move about regularly – every 30 minutes or so. You can buy a pair of graduated compression or support stockings from the pharmacy, which will help reduce leg swelling.
Travel vaccinations when you're pregnant
Most vaccines that use live bacteria or viruses aren't recommended during pregnancy because of concerns that they could harm the baby in the womb.
However, some live travel vaccines may be considered during pregnancy if the risk of infection outweighs the risk of live vaccination. Ask your GP or midwife for advice about specific travel vaccinations. Non-live (inactivated) vaccines are safe to use in pregnancy.
Some anti-malaria tablets aren't safe to take in pregnancy so ask your GP for advice.
Zika virus is mainly spread by mosquitoes found in some parts of the world. For most people it's mild and not harmful, but can cause problems if you're pregnant.
If you are pregnant, it is not recommended to travel to parts of the world where the Zika virus is present, such as parts of:
- South and Central America
- the Caribbean
- the Pacific islands
Check before you travel
It's important to check the risk for the country you're going to before you travel.
Find out more about the Zika virus risk in specific countries on the Travel Health Pro website
Car travel in pregnancy
It's best to avoid long car journeys if you're pregnant. However, if it can't be avoided, make sure you stop regularly and get out of the car to stretch and move around.
You can also do some exercises in the car (when you're not driving), such as flexing and rotating your feet and wiggling your toes. This will keep the blood flowing through your legs and reduce any stiffness and discomfort. Wearing compression stockings while on long car journeys (more than 4 hours) can also increase the blood flow in your legs and help prevent blood clots.
Tiredness and dizziness are common during pregnancy so it's important on car journeys to drink regularly and eat natural, energy-giving foods, such as fruit and nuts.
Keep the air circulating in the car and wear your seatbelt with the cross strap between your breasts and the lap strap across your pelvis under your bump, not across your bump.
Road accidents are among the most common causes of injury in pregnant women. If you have to make a long trip, don't travel on your own. You could also share the driving with your companion.
Sailing in pregnancy
Ferry companies have their own restrictions and may refuse to carry heavily pregnant women (often beyond 32 weeks on standard crossings and 28 weeks on high-speed crossings ). Check the ferry company's policy before you book.
For longer boat trips, such as cruises, find out if there are onboard facilities to deal with pregnancy and medical services at the docking ports.
Food and drink abroad in pregnancy
Take care to avoid food- and water-borne conditions, such as stomach upsets and travellers' diarrhoea . Some medicines for treating stomach upsets and travellers' diarrhoea aren't suitable during pregnancy.
Always check if tap water is safe to drink. If in doubt, drink bottled water. If you get ill, keep hydrated and continue eating for the health of your baby, even if you're not hungry.
Find out about a healthy diet in pregnancy , and foods to avoid in pregnancy .
Page last reviewed: 17 August 2022 Next review due: 17 August 2025
What To Know About Rights As A Pregnant Airline Passenger
W hen it comes to traveling with an extra passenger in "uter-tow," there's a lot that passengers need to be aware of. With airlines cracking down more and more on what passengers can or cannot do on an aircraft, it's vital that you know your rights as a pregnant passenger before you take to the skies.
There are some more obvious pieces of advice, like pre-boarding if needed, as well as some lesser-considered advice, like needing health certificates in order to fly. Particularly if you've never flown as a pregnant person, these are essential tips — especially since you aren't allowed to fly at a certain point in your pregnancy unless you have the okay from a doctor.
Never forget that if you are traveling for work, you can always refuse to fly. Business-minded folks sometimes forget that pregnancy is a life-altering situation long before the baby enters the world. So if you aren't comfortable flying, or if flying is just a really uncomfortable time for you, feel free to use that magic word.
Read more: Tips For Making Road Trips With Your Newborn Less Stressful
You Can Opt Out Of TSA Scanners
The TSA assures pregnant passengers that whole-body scanners are safe for fetuses. These security scanners do not use X-ray technology, so you don't need to be overly cautious when approaching them. All the same, many pregnant folks aren't comfortable using them, and that's totally okay — you do not have to go into a scanner. You can always opt out and ask for a pat-down instead.
Regular metal detectors and handheld scanners at airports are also safe for pregnant people to use as well. You can still ask for a physical pat-down instead of these options too. Don't forget that you can ask for privacy if you're uncomfortable doing the pat-down in public. Although TSA can be intimidating, the staff do want you to be as comfortable as you can be, particularly if you're doing what you think is best for your mini fellow traveler.
Pre-Board If You Need More Time
When planes begin boarding, the pre-boarding announcement for folks who need more time to get to their seats can apply to you as a pregnant passenger. Feel free to pre-board if you need some extra time to settle in. Or you could board at the last minute to let yourself walk around as much as possible to reduce any leg swelling.
Remember that unless you have small children with you, you may not be able to pre-board with your partner. You may be able to pre-board with your partner; however, most airlines will only let the individual who needs the pre-boarding accommodation board unless they need that second individual to come along.
Pre-boarding is also a good idea if you are alone and may need assistance with your carry-on luggage. Your ever-attentive flight crew will be happy to help hoist a bag into the overhead bin or help get you comfortably seated. The rush to get your stuff stowed and be seated during boarding is hectic enough without considering a pregnant belly and the restrictions it brings.
Most Airlines Allow Up To 36 Weeks Of Gestation
Every airline can have its own standard for when pregnant women are no longer permitted to fly or need medical clearance before doing so. However, the general rule of thumb is up to 36 weeks pregnant. Passengers over 36 weeks pregnant could risk adverse effects if they fly too far into their pregnancy.
Not every pregnant person is cleared to fly at every stage of pregnancy, either. If you have any medical conditions that are exacerbated by flying, it's a good idea to try and avoid air travel during your pregnancy for your safety as well as that of your fetus(es). Avoiding air travel is particularly important for anyone with a history of pregnancy-induced blood pressure issues.
When flying, regardless of how far along you are, you also want to try and keep your seatbelt on at all times. Because turbulence is unpredictable, it's better to be safe than sorry with a tagalong passenger. To safely wear the belt, you want it below your belly.
You May Need Documentation
Although the general rule is to allow passengers up to 36 weeks pregnant for single babies and 32 weeks for multiples, they will likely need proper documentation. To be on the safe side, you should bring proof of your gestational age any time you travel. Let's be honest: It can be really difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint the pregnancy range of a stranger.
When you're in your last trimester of pregnancy, you're going to need a medical information form (MEDIF) in order to fly. This document can be obtained within 10 days of your flight and submitted to your airline before flying. Give your airline at least 48 hours with your document before check-in.
You can also have a Doctor's Diagnostic Statement confirming that you are fit to fly before air travel. This document verifies your due date and will help prevent you from being denied boarding the aircraft or even being denied entry to another country if you are traveling internationally. Destination countries have different standards for pregnant travelers, so be sure to check with local requirements before going abroad.
Ask For What You Need On Board
Every pregnancy is different for everyone. Airlines will do their best to accommodate what you need for your comfort and safety on the plane. Do you need a seatbelt extender or extra sick bags? Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself when in the sky or as you board. Remember our advice about wearing the belt below your belly even if you don't think you'll need a seatbelt extender. That may change how much belt length you need.
That also extends to your fellow passengers. While you can't force anyone to help you out or do you a favor, it doesn't hurt to ask. Are you feeling more nauseous than usual and want to be closer to the bathroom? Ask your rowmate at the end if they're willing to switch places with you. Need help taking your bag out of the overhead bin or getting it up there? Ask a fellow passenger if they're able to help you. Although the internet captures some bizarre in-flight meltdowns , the average passenger is still more caring than the web gives them credit for.
You May Get Upgraded (But Don't Assume You Will)
Airline status or not, pregnant folks are more likely to get upgraded when airlines are making choices about free in-flight upgrades . While this is a courtesy that can happen, don't assume it will happen for you when you fly. That said, you're more likely to get upgraded when you have a higher airline loyalty status than if you aren't part of their program at all.
If you don't want to take the chance of hoping you'll be upgraded, you can try to get an upgrade strategically. Keep an eye on seat upgrade prices which can sometimes dip after purchase, or even changing flights can offer a free or deeply discounted seat in a higher fare class.
An upgrade can also be as simple as getting a better seat. Economy plus seats, for example, do offer a bit more room than traditional economy seating. Getting moved to that part of the plane will still be more comfortable than a standard seat, so that is an upgrade even if you don't get bumped from economy to first class.
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Travelling while pregnant
Find useful information and considerations to help you prepare for safe and healthy travels outside Canada while pregnant.
With careful preparation, travelling while pregnant can be safe. The decision to travel should be made in consultation with your health care professional, based on your personal health circumstances.
On this page
Before you go, while you're away, if you need help.
Medical practices, health standards and infection control measures vary from country to country. You may not have access to the same level of care, procedures, treatments and medications as you would in Canada.
You could also be at increased risk of getting an infection and/or developing severe complications from certain infections, which could also affect the fetus.
Before leaving Canada:
- consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before travelling to get personalized health advice and recommendations
- check our Travel Advice and Advisories for country-specific information, including about possible health risks
- know how to seek medical assistance outside of Canada
- review the policy and the coverage it provides
- most policies do not automatically cover pregnancy-related conditions or hospital care for premature infants
- ask your insurance provider about coverage for medical care during pregnancy, giving birth and intensive care for you and your fetus or newborn
- carry a copy of your prenatal records
- talk to your health care professional about any additional items you may want to bring that are specific to your health needs
Local laws and medical services relating to pregnancy can differ from Canada. Learn the local laws, and how these may apply to you before you travel.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
Many vaccines can be safely given during pregnancy. Due to a higher risk of more severe outcomes for you and your fetus, some vaccines are recommended specifically during pregnancy, such as tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (DTaP) and influenza.
Don’t take medications you may still have from prior trips. Tell the health care professional about your pregnancy, or intended pregnancy, before filling any prescriptions. The decision to get any pre-travel vaccinations or medications should be discussed with your health care professional.
The decision can depend on:
- your purpose of travel (e.g., tourism, visiting friends and relatives)
- your planned destination(s)
- the length of your trip
- your risk of getting a disease
- how severe the effect of a disease would be to you and/or your fetus
- your planned activities
- any underlying medical issues and/or pregnancy-related complications
Malaria could cause major health problems for a mother and her unborn baby. A pregnant woman may want to consider avoiding travel to areas where malaria transmission occurs.
Description of malaria risk by country and preventative measures.
If you can’t avoid travelling to an area where malaria is present:
- some medications to prevent or treat malaria may not be safe during pregnancy
- take extra care to protect yourself from mosquito bites
Zika virus infection during pregnancy can pose significant risks to your fetus even if you don’t develop symptoms. While pregnant, you may want to consider avoiding travelling to a country or areas with risk of Zika virus.
Latest travel health advice on Zika virus.
If you choose to travel, take precautions to avoid infection with Zika virus:
- prevent mosquito bites at all times
- protect yourself from contact with semen, vaginal fluid and blood
- always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact while in countries or areas with risk of Zika virus
Learn more about Zika virus and pregnancy:
- Zika virus: Pregnant or planning a pregnancy
- Zika virus: Advice for travellers
- Pregnancy and travel (tropical medicine and travel)
Monitor your health and be prepared
Emergencies can happen at any time. Know where the nearest hospital or medical centre is while you are travelling and confirm they will accept your medical insurance.
Seek medical attention immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms while travelling:
- persistent vomiting and/or diarrhea
- vaginal bleeding
- passing tissue or clots
- abdominal pain, cramps or contractions
- your water breaks
- excessive swelling of face, hands or legs
- excessive leg pain
- severe headaches
- visual problems
If you develop these symptoms after your return to Canada, you should see a health care professional immediately and tell them about your recent trip.
Always wear a seatbelt when travelling by plane or car. When using a diagonal shoulder strap with a lap belt, the straps should be placed carefully above and below your abdomen. If only a lap belt is available, fasten it at the pelvic area, below your abdomen.
If you have any medical or pregnancy-related complications, discuss with your health care professional whether air travel is safe for you.
Most airlines restrict travel in late pregnancy or may require a written confirmation from a physician. Check this with the airline before booking your flight.
During long flights, you may be at higher risk of developing blood clots, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The risk of deep vein thrombosis can be reduced by:
- getting up and walking around occasionally
- exercising and stretching your legs while seated
- selecting an aisle seat when possible
- wearing comfortable shoes and loose clothing
Your health care professional may recommend additional ways to reduce your risk such as wearing compression stockings.
Always stay well hydrated while travelling.
The risk of deep vein thrombosis can be reduced by:
- stopping the vehicle to walk around every couple of hours
Certain medications used to treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy may also be effective in relieving motion sickness.
If you think you might experience motion sickness during your trip, speak to your health care professional about the use of these medications.
Environmental and recreational risks
Some activities may not be recommended or may require additional precautions. Discuss your travel plans, including any planned or potential recreational activities with a health care professional.
You should avoid travelling to an altitude above 3,658 metres (12,000 feet).
However, if you have a high-risk pregnancy and/or are in the late stages of pregnancy, the highest altitude should be 2,500 metres (8,200 feet).
If you have pregnancy-related complications, you should avoid unnecessary high-altitude exposure.
Keep in mind that most high-altitude destinations are far from medical care services.
Personal protective measures
Food-borne and water-borne diseases.
Eat and drink safely while travelling while travelling. Many food-borne and water-borne illnesses can be more severe during pregnancy and pose a risk to the fetus.
This can include:
- hepatitis A and E
To help avoid food-borne and water-borne diseases:
- before eating or preparing food
- after using the bathroom or changing diapers
- after contact with animals or sick people
- before and after touching raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood
- if you’re at a destination that lacks proper sanitation and/or access to clean drinking water, only drink water if it has been boiled or disinfected or if it’s in a commercially sealed bottle
- use ice made only from purified or disinfected water
- this could cause the fetus or newborn to develop thyroid problems
- unpasteurized dairy products, such as raw milk and raw milk soft cheeses
- unpasteurized juice and cider
- raw or undercooked eggs, meat or fish, including shellfish
- raw sprouts
- non-dried deli meats, including bologna, roast beef and turkey breast
- don’t use bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol®)
- Information on travellers’ diarrhea
Illnesses acquired from insect and other animals
Protect yourself from insect bites:
- wear light-coloured, loose clothes made of tightly woven materials such as nylon or polyester
- prevent mosquitoes from entering your living area with screening and/or closed, well-sealed doors and windows
- use insecticide-treated bed nets if mosquitoes can’t be prevented from entering your living area
- information on insect bite and pest prevention
Some infections, such as rabies and influenza, can be shared between humans and animals. You should avoid contact with animals including dogs, livestock (pigs, cows), monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats.
Information for if you become sick or injured while travelling outside Canada.
For help with emergencies outside Canada, contact the:
- nearest Canadian office abroad
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa
More information on services available at consular offices outside Canada.
- Immunization in pregnancy and breastfeeding: Canadian Immunization Guide
- Advice for Canadians travelling to Zika-affected countries
- Advice for women travellers
- If you get sick before or after returning to Canada
- Receiving medical care in other countries
- Travel vaccinations
- What you can bring on a plane