If you have a pre-existing holiday booked, a work trip coming up or are keen to go on a baby-moon abroad you may be wondering about the safety of air travel. In this article, we delve into the question of when you can safely fly whilst pregnant, providing insights backed by medical studies and UK guidelines.
As pregnancy progresses, different trimesters introduce distinctive challenges and recommendations for air travel.
Flying During the First and Second Trimester: Safety and Comfort
Embarking on air travel during the first trimester and the second trimester is generally deemed safe for individuals with uncomplicated pregnancies and low risk factors. During this early stage, studies show that the risk of miscarriage remains consistent and isn’t substantially impacted by flying.
However, if you are suffering from nausea and fatigue which is commonly experienced in the first trimester, this could potentially lead to discomfort during flights and could be a consideration for you.
The Third Trimester: A Time to be More Cautious when Flying During Pregnancy
As the third trimester begins around the 28th week, there are more considerations. The maternal and foetal risks associated with air travel become more pronounced during this stage. Increased potential for preterm labour, venous thromboembolism (VTE), and other complications underscore the need for caution. Within the UK, and in alignment with international practices, most airlines tend to restrict pregnant passengers beyond 36 weeks.
Assessing Risks: The Complexities of Flying While Pregnant
The journey through pregnancy introduces physiological changes that warrant caution when planning air travel. Pregnant individuals are susceptible to blood clot formation (Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT) due to hormonal fluctuations and limited mobility during flights. This risk escalates during lengthy journeys. Changes in cabin pressure and oxygen levels can influence maternal oxygen saturation, which might indirectly affect the developing foetus. For those with pre-existing medical conditions or a history of clotting disorders, consultation with a healthcare provider before flying is highly recommended.
Medical Perspective: Navigating Air Travel During Pregnancy
From a medical standpoint, the dialogue between pregnant individuals and their healthcare providers is important. Obstetricians and midwives play a crucial role in evaluating each persons unique medical history and advising on travel plans. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) in the UK underscores the significance of personalised advice. Their guidelines emphasise comprehensive discussions about potential risks and considerations before making travel decisions during pregnancy.
What are the Airline Guidelines?
UK guidelines concerning air travel during pregnancy closely resemble international standards. Most airlines permit pregnant individuals to fly until the 36th week for short-haul flights. However, for longer flights or international travel, restrictions might be implemented from the 32nd week and a letter from your midwife or GP may be needed to confirm that your pregnancy is low risk. It’s crucial to verify these policies with the respective airline, as variations can occur.
Deciding to fly during pregnancy demands a delicate balance between maternal well-being, meeting work expectations or adventure. While air travel up to 36 weeks is considered generally safe, an individual approach is essential.
Empowering pregnant people with accurate medical information and encouraging open conversations with healthcare professionals ensures informed decisions. In the context of the UK, adhering to established guidelines, such as those provided by the RCOG, is highly recommended.
We are here for you every step of the way with our courses and online Parent Hub and include an Ask the Midwife chat feature for all of your pregnancy-related questions: