There is no specific reason to worry about flying during the third trimester of pregnancy. Flying while pregnant can be perfectly healthy, but you will need to speak to your doctor and take precautions.
Generally speaking, no, you shouldn’t be worried about flying during your third trimester, but each mother is different. Just make sure you get the advice of your doctor before you do.
Thirty-Six weeks is the typical cut-off for flying or long-distance travel while pregnant. Many women can travel in relative comfort. However, long flights will probably cause more discomfort than shorter ones. Women who have a low-risk pregnancy can do most things that others can do throughout their pregnancies.
Taking precautions, working with medical professionals, and having a contingency plan will be of the best things you can do if flying in your pregnancy, especially during the third trimester. Some corporations do not allow employees to fly on business after their third trimester begins, so check with your employer to learn their policies.
What Precautions Should I Take to Fly Safely?
Whenever you fly, you should take precautions, but flying while pregnant can lead to more concerns than at other times in your life.
The best time to fly is your second trimester. The first and third trimesters are when the most complications occur. Due to these possible complications, here are some precautions you can take during your third trimester to be sure that you are traveling as safely as possible.
Speak to your doctor
Before beginning to fly while pregnant, you should check with your doctor about the possibility of travel during this time. Even if you have not reached your third trimester, speak to your doctor before you travel in case you need to do anything extra. Your doctor can also provide documentation of travel clearance in case the airline asks to see it. The more your pregnancy shows, the more often you will be asked if you have travel clearance.
Research your destination
Before traveling to tropical locations, you need to research whether they are affected by Zika or Malaria. Zika may cause birth defects, and malaria is nearly impossible to overcome with a compromised immune system or while pregnant. The CDC can provide information on which locations are off-limits, carry enhanced precautions, or require no additional precautions. Research – Centers for Disease Control. “Traveler’s Health.”
Research destination healthcare
Find out what medical facilities may be available in your destination city or country. International travel is not recommended during your third trimester, but some destinations may be okay if they have good relationships with the US, and you are not going far from your home. Your insurance carrier should be able to let you know what facilities are considered in-network and which are not. Research facilities before you leave so that you know what will be required of you in case you need help.
Take direct flights
The quickest route will be the best in this case. It may not be the least expensive, but the more time you spend on a flight, the more your risk for complications increases. Try to take as few flights as possible.
Carefully choose your food- Foods will affect your comfort. Some foods, like carbonated soda, beans, and broccoli, can be gas-producing. Eating these before a flight will compound the discomfort of air pressure changes of take-off and landing. Choosing foods that are easily digested will make for a more comfortable flight. Pregnant women often notice the change more than other people.
Yes, exercising in flight is possible. You should consider walking up and down the aisles of the airplane when you can. Many doctors will request that you do this every half-hour. Web-MD suggests that you flex and stretch your ankles in your seat between walks. They also suggest choosing an aisle seat. Research: “Safe Flying While Pregnant.”
Understand the signs of an emergency
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests seeking emergency medical treatment for vaginal bleeding, pelvic or abdominal pain or contractions, ruptured membranes (water breaks), signs and symptoms of preeclampsia, severe vomiting or diarrhea, and signs of Deep Vein Thrombosis.
The last condition is generally caused by immobility in certain situations. This can happen to any flyer, but it is more common among pregnant flyers. This can be prevented by following the exercise often tip. Increasing fluids and wearing loose-fitting clothing can also minimize the risk of blood clots.
Who Should Not Fly During Pregnancy?
Women with complications should not travel during the third trimester. This includes preeclampsia or any indication of preterm labor. There are many reasons not to travel during pregnancy. Yours and your baby’s safety are the utmost concern while you are pregnant, so take precautions when you must.
Women with these types of conditions are at a higher risk of complications and preterm labor due to the flight.
Women with placental concerns should also avoid flying during pregnancy. Placental abruption can be fatal for mother and baby if they cannot reach a hospital in time. Placenta previa sometimes resolves itself during pregnancy, but you should make sure that earlier placental issues will not cause concern later.
Most pregnant women will have little to no problems while flying. Flying is a relatively safe mode of transportation for pregnant women, but caution must be taken for high-risk women.
How Do I Handle Emergencies?
Let’s face it, life happens. Sometimes emergencies come up during travel or shortly after. Here are a few tips for preparing for emergencies. We hope that you do not need any of these suggestions of course and the chances are very small that you will.
Notify flight crew
Notify the flight crew that you have an emergency. They are trained to handle emergencies, and they can notify the ground crew if there are unusual circumstances when landing. They can also speak to the captain who may decide to divert if appropriate.
Bring extra copies
Have extra copies of your medical information and health insurance cards. If you do need to be seen at the hospital, they will need to have information from your charts and may want to contact your regular doctor.
The more upset you get, the worse your condition will be. We know that it can be challenging to remain calm during an emergency, but it will be best for the baby.
Notify destination personnel
If you have already reached your destination, tell hotel staff, local business partners, or anyone who might need to know your whereabouts. Locals can also help you reach a quality facility quicker. If you are traveling on business, have someone contact your spouse or partner. Be sure the exact name of your destination facility is communicated. Your spouse or partner will need to know where to go when he or she reaches the city.
Maintain contact with your partner
If you feel that your complication is reasonably small, you may ask your partner to wait until you have news to hop on a plane to your location. If the situation seems pretty imminent, discuss facilities and airports with your partner. You do not want them going to an airport 100 miles away from where you are just to get the first flight if they will be driving longer than they would have waited to fly closer.
Preplan with your doctor
Make sure that you tell your doctor where you are going and when. He or she may have colleagues in the area that can help in case of an emergency. Your doctor may be able to suggest facilities or physicians in your intended destination, especially if you are traveling to major cities.
Call your doctor
You may have discussed contingency plans with your doctor before leaving, but if you do have a problem while you are gone, notify your doctor so that he or she is aware of what is happening. Televisits may be possible if the complication is minor.
What Else Do I Need to Know Before Flying During the Third Trimester?
There are many things that you need to consider before flying, not just the ones we have mentioned above. While we hope that emergencies do not happen, there are other things that you need to know before traveling.
What are the airline policies?
Knowing the airline flight policies can be one of the most beneficial things travelers will learn during their time traveling. This includes exceptions to rules, exchange policies, and other requirements. Below are a few airlines’ policies.
Before the thirty-sixth week, women may travel without medical documentation. Beginning in the 36th week, you will need two copies of the obstetrician’s certificate mentioned above. It must be dated within 72 hours of departure and may not include travel after the due date. One copy is for check-in, and the other is for reference during the flight. Research: “Traveling While Pregnant.”
Asiana Air is more specific in its requirements. For example, theirs is broken down by “Before 32 weeks,” “32-37 Weeks,” and “37+ Weeks.” However, the only rule before 32 weeks is that pregnant passengers not have pregnancy-related complications such as hypertension (preeclampsia) or diabetes or be at an elevated risk of miscarriage or premature delivery. Passengers between 32- and 37-weeks medical certificates and declaration forms are required. They do not allow anyone to board after 37 weeks. Research: “Pregnant Passengers”
This airline has different policies depending on if you are flying locally (between the Hawaiian Islands) or to the mainland/ internationally. If traveling locally, clearance is required for flying within the last week of pregnancy. When traveling internationally or to the mainland, you cannot travel within thirty days without a doctor’s clearance.
They seem to have the most lenient policy for general travel, considering the ease of changing tickets for Southwest. The suggestion is that no travel occurs after the 38th week has begun. They may ask pregnant women not to sit in the emergency row. Research: “Baby on board”
This airline is the most lenient with restrictions, but they also make sure to mention that pregnancy does not negate penalties on changed tickets. Delta will let pregnant women fly as long as their doctors think it is okay. Research: “Children and Infant Travel.”
What are the cancellation policies?
Understanding airline and destination cancellation and rescheduling policies can also help you to make better decisions while traveling. Waiting to plan travel until after the baby comes or going before your third trimester may be better ideas for traveling during and after pregnancy. Keep in mind, traveling with an infant is not an effortless task.
Get cancellation insurance if the travel needs to happen during your third trimester, but you are afraid something will prevent you from going or returning during the dates you have booked the flights.
What are my personal concerns?
You need to make sure that you confront your personal concerns before embarking on an airplane during your third trimester. Stress will increase the risk of complications. Ask questions of your physician, friends, family, and others who have experience or expertise in this area.
What are the travel restrictions for return flights if I have the baby while gone?
We hope that you make it home before having the baby, but sometimes life has different plans. Return travel may be complicated if you give birth while away from home.
The bottom line is that it is not inherently unhealthy to fly at any point during your pregnancy. It can be more challenging during the first and third trimesters, and you are more likely to have complications during these periods. Women who are generally unlikely to have complications should be cleared to travel by their physicians with no problem.
As always, before doing anything, if you are unsure of anything during pregnancy, speak to your doctor. You are not likely to be the only one who has ever asked the question. The doctor will know what to do in most cases.