Is flying safe when pregnant: everything you need to know

  • Ergobaby
  • Jul 8, 2024
flying during pregnancy

Yay, you’re pregnant! Congratulations! Are you already excited and looking forward to watching your belly slowly grow and feeling your unborn miracle more and more? Many parents-to-be plan a “babymoon” of some kind during this time. Preferably somewhere warm, on the beach, in the sun. A holiday destination that can only be reached by plane. But do you feel uncomfortable at the thought of getting on a plane pregnant? Should you? Many parents-to-be feel that way. That’s why we asked our midwife and baby expert Katrin to answer the question “is flying safe when pregnant?” including when she thinks is the best time for a parent-to-be to fly.

Is flying allowed during pregnancy?

Generally speaking, you can fly during pregnancy as it will not harm you or your unborn child – provided your pregnancy has proceeded without complications and your baby is developing as expected and is healthy. Shorter flights in particular should not be a problem if your pregnancy is ‘normal’. However, if there are risk factors, the focus should be on your health and travelling by plane should be avoided. Please always speak to your GP, consultant (if you have one) or midwife in advance of booking any flights.

What should you look out for if you want to fly pregnant? 

As already mentioned, shorter flights (up to around four hours) are generally suitable for expectant mothers – provided your doctor has given you the go-ahead. As pregnant people have an increased risk of thrombosis, it might be better to avoid long flights. There is little room to move around and often not much legroom on aeroplanes. If a long-haul flight or flying with other additional risk factors is unavoidable, special pregnancy flying socks called compression stockings are a must and you may need injections of an anticoagulant. Please visit your GP or midwife beforehand and clarify if there’s anything you need to do in advance of flying. And in any case, leg exercises are important to get the blood flow going: It’s best to stand up regularly and walk up and down the aisle. Tighten your calf muscles and move your feet while sitting. This will prevent the blood from pooling in your veins. Loose-fitting clothes and drinking plenty of water are also beneficial. 

Is high-altitude radiation a problem for the unborn baby?

No, for those who fly infrequently and irregularly, the fear of high-altitude radiation in an aeroplane is unfounded. Even if the radiation dose is higher than down here on earth, it is still too low to pose a risk to you or your baby. However, those who fly a lot for work should reduce the number of flights during pregnancy. Again, please clarify this with your health care team.

Is there a pregnancy limit for flying where you’d be “too pregnant” to fly?

There is no general pregnancy limit for flying. It all depends on how you feel, how your pregnancy is progressing, how your child is doing and what your midwife or consultant says. So please seek professional advice here too. You should also always check the regulations of the individual airlines. Some prohibit flying from the 36th week of pregnancy, others earlier, especially if you’re pregnant with multiple babies. Others require a medical certificate. If there is even a small risk that flying during pregnancy will harm you and your baby, don’t fly. For example, if you have an additional risk of thrombosis. Or you have relevant health problems such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease or anaemia. An increased risk of premature birth or health problems in your unborn baby also speaks against flying during pregnancy. 

To find the best time for your flight, let’s take a look at the respective trimester of your pregnancy:

Is flying safe when pregnant: 1st trimester

You might prefer not to travel before the 12th week of pregnancy because of the potential nausea/vomiting and tiredness during these early stages. During this time, there is generally a higher risk of pregnancy complications such as bleeding or miscarriages. Consider if you’d prefer to be at home during this time. 

Is flying safe when pregnant: 2nd trimester

From the 4th month of pregnancy, most pregnant people are just fine. Your body has adjusted, your circulation is stable again, the tiredness subsides and the discomfort may have come to an end. What’s more, the growing baby is not yet affecting you physically as much as it will at the end of your pregnancy. In short: you are hopefully feeling very well in this phase. This means that the period between the 20th and 30th week of pregnancy seems to be the best time for a planned flight. 

Is flying safe when pregnant: 3rd trimester

You are probably now entering the phase in which you can clearly feel your pregnancy and your baby. Your body is under more strain and the things you used to manage with ease in everyday life are becoming increasingly difficult. Many airlines also ban flights during this time. We’d therefore usually recommend refraining from flying during this phase of your pregnancy. In general, there are no medical objections to short-haul flights if the pregnancy is progressing normally up to around 32/33 weeks’ gestation. 

Hi, hola, ciao! Is flying safe when pregnant? Yes!

Generally speaking, the answer to our question “is flying safe when pregnant?” is yes! Nothing should stand in the way of your babymoon in the sun. Just be a little more careful than usual and make your decision carefully so that flying during pregnancy doesn’t become a risk – either for you nor for your baby. Enjoy your last holiday before everything changes (again).