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Flying while pregnant? This is what you need to know

Know these guidelines about flying while you're with child

A family walking in an airport.
Nico El Nino / Shutterstock

Maybe you have to travel for work. Maybe you already had a vacation planned before finding out you were pregnant. However you got here, the reality is you’re pregnant, and you have to get on a plane. Can you fly if you are pregnant, or is it on the list of no-no’s, like soft cheese and deli meats? Whether you already booked that plane ticket or not, there are a few things about flying while pregnant to know. 

Traveling while pregnant

Let’s break it down by trimester, so you know where you’ll be when you take your trip.

Pregnant woman packing a hospital bag.
JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

First trimester travel

The first part of your pregnancy is usually OK to travel during. Most women don’t start to show yet, feel pretty normal, and aren’t physically restricted by a beach ball blocking everything they do. But there are two things to know if you fly in your first trimester.

One problem with flying during the first trimester would be the morning sickness. You might be learning how to turn the world into your personal puke bucket, which might be a great party trick, but your seatmates on the plane wouldn’t want to see that. If you hit turbulence in the air, that nauseous feeling is not going to get better. If you’re experiencing heavy morning sickness, you may not want to fly.

The other part about flying in the early stages is the risk of blood clots. Sitting for long periods increases the risk of clots, and pregnant women have more of a risk already because of growing that human.

In addition to those setbacks about flying while in the first part of pregnancy, if a woman miscarries, it will most likely happen during the first trimester. Most pregnant women like to get through the first twelve weeks before doing anything.

If you do travel at this time

If you do fly at this point, especially if you have a flight longer than a few hours, drink water constantly and move your legs as much as possible

Second trimester travel

The second trimester is the sweet spot. You are still pretty mobile, your energy has gone up a bit, and the morning sickness should have stopped by now.

You still need to think about the blood clot issue when flying. Make sure to flex your feet, wiggle those toes, and do a little runway walk every 30 minutes or so during the flight. But other than that, traveling while pregnant during this time should be a stress-free experience.

Third trimester travel

Here is when things get tricky. Once you hit the third trimester, not only may you not feel like doing the whole flying production, but you might not be allowed to.

If you’re pregnant with no complications and have no risks, you could be allowed to fly up to week 37. But you may need to get a note from your doctor saying you have the all-clear. The note usually states when your due date is and that you have no known complications.

Additional third trimester cautions

If you’re having twins, that travel marker could go down to week 32. Depending on the airline, you might need a note from your doctor to be allowed to board as early as week 28. This isn’t to single out pregnant people, but everyone carries the weight so differently, and airlines need to cover their bases.

Other pregnancy travel tips to know

Once you have what trimester you’ll be at when you travel worked out, see if any of these additional tips would be helpful before you leave.

A pregnant woman talking to her health care provider.
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Shutterstock

Traveling abroad

If you’re flying out of the country, you might need vaccinations, but you can’t get certain ones while pregnant. Talk with your doctor, as any vaccinations that use live bacteria are a no-go for pregnant people. Before you book a ticket anywhere, chat with your doctor about the vaccine situation to see if it’s safe.

If you’re a high-risk pregnancy

Unfortunately, if you have certain diseases or pregnancy risks like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, your doctor may not allow you to fly after around the halfway point. If you or your doctor have had concerns about your pregnancy, talk it out before you make travel plans. If you already had something booked, see what the rules are about medical conditions to get reimbursed or credited for the flight.

Flying doesn’t trigger birth

No matter where you are in pregnancy, know that it’s not the flying itself that could trigger you to go into labor. It’s not the change in air pressure or turbulence. Even if you have a textbook healthy pregnancy, you could just go into labor during your travels. It happens all the time, but it’s not the plane’s fault.

Doing any traveling while pregnant might seem like an exhausting task, but with the right tips, it can be perfectly healthy to do so — and even fun. Know where you are in your pregnancy and run things past your doctor if you’re unsure. Know the airline’s guidelines about flying while pregnant, drink plenty of water, keep your documents in order, move those limbs, and you’ll have a great trip.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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