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Is it safe to fly during pregnancy?

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Useful tips for going abroad by air when you're pregnant

Women often worry about whether they can fly during pregnancy and whether it is safe for them and their baby. Here is all the advice you need...

1st trimester

You may not feel like flying in the early days if you have nausea or are very tired. You may find it easier to stay closer to home or to go on holiday in this country.

2nd trimester

During your second trimester, you usually feel much better, so it’s a great time to take a holiday. Sickness and tiredness should have lessened and you won’t be so big that you feel uncomfortable.

The safest time to fly is before 37 weeks if you are pregnant with one baby and before 32 weeks if you are having twins. Most airlines won’t allow you to fly after 37 weeks. It’s a good idea to check with your airline to see what their policy is before you book your tickets.

3rd trimester

During your third trimester you may need to have a ‘permission to travel’ letter from your doctor, which is dated less than 72 hours before you travel. It should state

  • Your due date
  • Where you are travelling to
  • The dates you are travelling out and returning
  • A statement that travelling will not, in the doctor’s opinion, constitute a health risk

Insurance

Make sure you tell your travel insurance company that you are pregnant and how far along, as you may not be covered beyond a certain point.

What to take

Along with all your usual belongings, make sure you take your pregnancy notes with you, any medication you are taking and the phone number of your doctor.

How to be comfortable on the plane

When you have a flight to contend with, have a think before you go about what will make you feel more comfortable.

Wear cool, loose clothes with elasticated or stretchy panels around your bump and don’t wear anything that’s too hot. However, take a couple of layers, including a cardigan or light jumper and a scarf, as the plane’s air conditioning can be a little fierce.

Wear support stockings, which you can buy from any chemist, to have on during the flight. These cut down the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE).

Take plenty of walks around the plane (try to get an aisle seat so that you can get out of your seat easily) and when seated, exercise your legs and ankles with stretches every 30 minutes or so.

Drink lots of water to keep hydrated but avoid caffeinated drinks like tea, coffee and cola, as they are diuretic and you may need to keep going to the loo – another reason to get an aisle seat!

FAQs about flying when pregnant

Are the security scanners harmful to my baby?

Airport scanners are not considered to be a risk to either you or your baby.

Is the air pressure bad for me or my baby?

Again, the levels are safe, though you might feel more nauseous due to changes in air pressure.

Do I have to wear a seat belt?

Yes, you have to wear a seat belt when flying, even when pregnant. Ask the cabin crew if you need an extension and make sure the belt fits securely across your thighs and under your bump.

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