Can I travel by air when pregnant?

pregnant silhouette of an individual waiting to fly in airport hall

My best friend loves to travel. Recently, she announced that she is 12 weeks pregnant. She is so excited, however, she is worried now that she’s already booked a vacation abroad for next year! This raises a good question.

Is travelling by air safe during pregnancy? Do airlines have policies about travelling while pregnant?

Is it safe to travel?

Travel in pregnancy is generally safe if you’re having an uncomplicated, low-risk pregnancy. However, even in low-risk pregnancies unexpected medical complications during travel can occur. It is recommended to speak with your health care provider or travel clinic about your travel plans at least 6 weeks before any travel.

Best time to travel?

The second trimester, between the 18th and 24th week of pregnancy, is considered safe to travel because the risks of common pregnancy complications is generally lower. Most common pregnancy emergencies and complications happen in first and third trimesters. It is also advisable to check with individual airlines before travelling since, most airlines restrict travel in late pregnancy and may require a note from a doctor.

Risks of air travel during pregnancy?

  • Blood Clots: Sitting for long period of time in plane can increase the risk of blood clots developing in the legs that can move in other parts of your body.It is recommended to move and stretch your lower legs from time to time; walk during the flight with support; sit on an aisle seat; wear loose clothing; and keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • In-flight delivery: Although, the actual risk of delivering on plane is very low, it is always best to be prepared. Make sure that you have proper travel medical insurance and know what will be covered in the case if you do deliver on a plane. Insurance companies in Canada are not legally obliged to offer travel medical insurance for an unborn child and only few cover this service.

General Safety tips for pregnant travellers

  • Know of any diseases in the country of travel, e.g., Zika
  • Have necessary vaccines before travel
  • Walk and stretch your legs on a plane
  • Take precaution with food and water
  • Know your blood group and type
  • Know what services your insurance will cover
  • Know what level of medical care is available at your destination
  • Have a copy of your medical records
  • Have a doctor’s note confirming date of expected delivery
  • Bring along any medications and prenatal multivitamins
  • Speak to a health care provider at least 6 weeks before planning to travel

With careful preparation and increased knowledge, travel in pregnancy is generally safe.

Learn more about travelling while pregnant.

If you have questions, please connect with our nurse via eChat or call (416) 338-7600.

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