Is it safe to fly when pregnant? An expert weighs in

Mums-to-be often ask about air travel while expecting. Here's our top tips for keeping you and your baby safe in the air.
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Your wellbeing and that of your beautiful bub is most important during your pregnancy. So there’s no doubting mums want to be 100 per cent clear on how to fly safely when pregnant.

Renee Welsh, general manager of and mother-of-two is a seasoned traveller and accustomed to flying with a bump. She says it all comes down to doing some research before you jet off.

“Flying is possible while pregnant. You just need to know when you can go and how to look after both yourself and the baby while up in the air,” says Renee.

We’ve rounded up Renee’s top tips to make flying with a bump less worrying and more enjoyable for all mums-to-be.

Is it safe to fly in the first trimester?

If you can avoid it, it is not advisable to fly during your first trimester as the risk of a miscarriage is still high.

Equally, it is not advised to fly throughout your third trimester as the possibility of going into labour increases and you don’t want to give birth while in the air!

Can you fly in your second trimester?

As long as you haven’t experienced any complications, the safest time to fly when pregnant is during the second trimester.

By this time, first trimester morning sickness is likely to have subsided, energy levels are higher and the risk of going into labour is low.

Flying in your third trimester

If you are required to fly during the third trimester, be aware that airlines have some restrictions in place. Depending on how far into your pregnancy you are and what airline you choose to travel with, you may not be able to fly at all.

For example, the majority of airlines won’t allow pregnant women (single pregnancy) to fly on a flight over four hours after 36 weeks. For flights under four hours, travel is often not permitted after 38 weeks. Restrictions can change if you’re having twins or more.

If you are 28 weeks or more, airlines will often ask you to present a letter from your midwife or doctor. This must be dated no more than 10 days prior to travel and outline your estimated due date, the absence of complications, single or multiple pregnancies, and their consent for you to fly for the duration of the flight(s) booked.

Things to keep in mind if you’re flying while pregnant:

  • Commercial planes are fine but flying in smaller or non-pressurised planes is not recommended at any stage of your pregnancy as the lower oxygen levels may impact your baby.

  • If you’re an expectant mothers who needs to fly interstate regularly, and suffers from morning sickness, make sure you have a bottle of water, some snacks and sick bags close to hand.

  • Requirements and restrictions can change with your airline, be it Qantas, Virgin or Jetstar. For this reason, it’s always best to check with the airline before planning a holiday or purchasing your ticket. If you have any queries, call your carrier to clarify. It’s better to be sure.

What to wear when flying while pregnant

You are probably already in maternity pants, giving you and baby some room to move. But remember to wear your seat belt low and around the pelvis to reduce pressure on the baby.

You should also think of your circulation. When you’re pregnant, your veins and arteries are already under strain and the lower cabin pressure won’t help this. It’s important to wear in-flight deep vein thrombosis socks (usually covered if you have health insurance) and flexible shoes.

Try to regularly stretch your limbs, do exercises in your chair and remain well-hydrated (sip water throughout the flight).

Which seats to request

Pregnant women are infamous bathroom-goers. To make getting up to go to the toilet easier, book or request an aisle seat. If possible, request a seat with more leg room or better still, pay extra and book a premium economy or business class ticket!

When you’re not visiting the bathroom, try to remain seated as much as possible as you may lose your balance walking up and down the aisle, particularly if the plane goes through sudden turbulence.

Read the fine print

When flying overseas, be sure to check your travel insurance thoroughly. Some companies will only insure a pregnant woman until a certain stage of the pregnancy (most commonly 24 weeks) and others will not cover an overseas birth.

Check up before you fly

Lastly but most importantly, before flying during any stage of your pregnancy, consult your doctor to discuss any potential risks or concerns you may have.

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