Here Are the Rules for Flying When You're Pregnant

Whether you're newly pregnant or planning a babymoon right before welcoming your new bundle of joy, here's what expectant parents need to know about airline travel during each trimester.

Happy family about to board in an airplane.

Expectant parents need to know: Can you fly when pregnant?

While it's mostly OK to travel until the last few weeks of pregnancy, there are some precautions to take depending on when you decide to book a trip and how high risk your pregnancy is. Here's what you need to know before your next vacation.

Pregnancy and Flying: Your Trimester by Trimester Guide

As a general rule of thumb, most airlines will allow pregnant people to fly right up until week 36 of pregnancy, but you should absolutely do your research before booking your flight to check restrictions. You'll also want to consult with your OB-GYN or midwife before traveling—especially if you're at a higher risk for complications during pregnancy.

Before you travel

While you may be accustomed to planning a vacation on a whim or only packing your usual necessities, there's one extra thing you should consider doing before booking a flight during your pregnancy: Opt for travel insurance.

Should travel restrictions change, your health care provider recommends you stay home, or if you experience any concerning symptoms—like bleeding, abdominal pain, swelling, headaches, vision changes, or decreased fetal movement—you'll want to postpone or cancel your plans and see your doctor as soon as possible.

According to the ACOG, travel is not recommended for pregnant people with certain complications like preeclampsia, premature rupture of membranes (PROM), or who are at risk of preterm labor.

First trimester

Flying earlier on in pregnancy is actually considered pretty safe. And, no, metal detectors won't harm your fetus.

"Pregnant women can observe the same basic precautions for air travel as the general public," Raul Artal, M.D., former vice chairman of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) Committee on Obstetric Practice, previously told Parents.

One thing pregnant air travelers should take extra precautions to avoid at any trimester? Blood clots, which pregnant people are 7 times more likely to develop—especially during long flights. To help minimize your risk, you can book an aisle seat, walk around every so often, and wiggle your legs and toes while seated.

And since morning sickness and fatigue might be your biggest first trimester complaints, you may want to check with your health care provider about bringing anti-nausea medicine with you.

Second trimester

According to the ACOG, "The best time to travel is mid-pregnancy (14 to 28 weeks). During these weeks, your energy has returned, morning sickness is improved or gone, and you are still able to get around easily. After 28 weeks, it may be harder to move around or sit for a long time."

If you're flying during your second trimester, it's a good idea to stay hydrated, think about wearing support stockings to reduce edema and clot risk, and make sure you've done your research on hospitals located near your destination should an emergency arise.

Carrying twins or more? Your health care provider might recommend you stop traveling earlier due to the higher risk of complications.

Third trimester

How late in pregnancy can you fly? If you're relatively healthy—and not at risk of complications like preterm labor, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or placenta previa—then you're usually OK to travel up until 36 weeks, though some OB-GYNs may prefer you stay closer to your home near the end should you encounter any complications or in case your baby comes sooner than expected.

High-risk patients—and especially those with pregnancy-induced hypertension, diabetes, and sickle-cell disease—may be advised not to fly after 24 weeks—or not at all.

Check with your doctor before traveling at the end of your pregnancy.

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