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Is it safe to fly during pregnancy?

Generally, air travel before 36 weeks of pregnancy is considered safe for people who aren't dealing with any pregnancy problems. Still, if you're pregnant, it's a good idea to talk with your health care provider before you fly.

Your provider might suggest that you not fly if you have certain pregnancy complications that could get worse because of air travel or that could require emergency care. Examples include a history of miscarriage or vaginal bleeding, severe anemia, and high blood pressure or diabetes that's not well controlled. If you had preeclampsia during a previous pregnancy — a condition that causes high blood pressure and extra protein in urine — flying may not be advised. The same is true if you're pregnant with twins or other multiples.

Tell your provider how far you are flying, as the length of the flight might make a difference. Also, be aware that some airlines may not allow pregnant people on international flights. Check with your airline before you make travel arrangements.

After 36 weeks of pregnancy, your health care provider may advise against flying. And some airlines don't allow pregnant people to fly after 36 weeks. The airline also may require a letter from your health care provider that states how far along in your pregnancy you are and whether flying is advised.

If your health care provider says it's okay for you to fly, and your plans are flexible, the best time to travel by air might be during the second trimester. The risks of common pregnancy emergencies are lowest during that time.

When you fly:

  • Buckle up. During the trip, keep your seatbelt fastened when you are seated, and secure it under your belly.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Low humidity in the airplane could cause you to become dehydrated.
  • Avoid gassy foods and drinks before you fly. Gases expand during flight, and that could make you uncomfortable. Examples of foods and drinks to avoid include broccoli and carbonated soda.
  • Think about medical care. Plan for how you'll get obstetric care during your trip if you need it. Bring copies of your medical information in case you need care while you're away.

Blood clots

Air travel can raise the risk for blood clots in the legs, a condition called venous thrombosis. The risk is higher for pregnant people. Moving your legs may help prevent this problem. Take a walk up and down the aisle every hour during the flight. If you must remain seated, flex and extend your ankles from time to time. In general, it's best to avoid tightfitting clothing, as that can hinder blood flow. Wearing compression stockings can help with blood circulation during a long flight.

Radiation exposure linked to air travel at high altitudes isn't thought to be a problem for most people who fly during pregnancy. But pilots, flight attendants and others who fly often might be exposed to a level of radiation that raises concerns during pregnancy. If you must fly frequently during your pregnancy, talk about it with your health care provider.

Mary Marnach, M.D.

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  • Allergy medications during pregnancy
  • AskMayoExpert. Health considerations for air travelers: Pregnancy considerations. Mayo Clinic; 2022.
  • Air Travel During Pregnancy: ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 746. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2018/08/air-travel-during-pregnancy. Accessed Dec. 1, 2022.
  • Ram S, et al. Air travel during pregnancy and the risk of venous thrombosis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2022; doi:10.1016/j.ajogmf.2022.100751.

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Traveling while pregnant: Your complete guide

Unless you're nearing your due date or have certain complications, your healthcare provider will generally give you the green light for pregnancy travel. Here's how to safely explore – plus what to consider before making plans.

Layan Alrahmani, M.D.

Is traveling while pregnant safe?

When to avoid pregnancy travel, when is the best time to travel while you're pregnant , can pregnant women travel during covid, when should you stop traveling while pregnant, your pregnancy travel checklist, when to call your doctor while traveling.

Yes, it's generally safe to travel during pregnancy as long as you're not too close to your due date and you're not experiencing any serious pregnancy complications. There are special precautions to take, of course, and you may find yourself stopping to use the bathroom more than you're used to, but that babymoon can be within reach.

Before you pack your suitcase, talk with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s safe for you to travel and that your destination is a good choice. You'll want to avoid places where infectious diseases are prevalent (or there are high outbreaks of Zika or malaria, for example). The COVID-19 pandemic has made people reconsider where they feel safe traveling as well; if you're fully vaccinated, the CDC says you can travel Opens a new window , but it's always best to check with your doctor first.

And bear in mind that the activities you take part in might be different than normal – you'll want to skip the Scuba diving lessons, for example (though snorkeling is okay!).

It's safe to fly when you're pregnant as well, and most airlines will allow you to fly domestically until about 36 weeks of pregnancy. International routes may have different rules, so be sure to check with your airline before booking anything. Your doctor will tell you to avoid flying, however, if you have a health concern that might require emergency care or any other health conditions that aren’t well controlled.

It's best to avoid traveling while pregnant if you have any health conditions that can be life-threatening to both you or your baby. If you have any of the following conditions, your doctor will almost certainly advise you against travel:

  • Placental abruption  
  • Preeclampsia
  • You're in preterm or active labor
  • Cervical insufficiency  (incompetent cervix)
  • Premature rupture of membranes (PROM)
  • A suspected ectopic pregnancy
  • Vaginal bleeding

You might also need to be extra-cautious or skip travel if you're experiencing intrauterine growth restriction , you have placenta previa , or you have other conditions that may place your pregnancy at a higher risk. It’s always a good idea to discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider before travel regarding any medical conditions you have, and they'll be able to advise you on what's best, depending on the trip.

The sweet spot for pregnancy travel is during your second trimester , between 14 weeks and 27 weeks. By the second trimester, any struggles you’ve had with morning sickness and fatigue during the earlier weeks of pregnancy should have hopefully subsided – and after 12 weeks, your risk of miscarriage decreases significantly as well. And you're not too far along to worry about third trimester exhaustion or going into preterm labor yet, either.

Your energy levels are likely to be good during your second trimester too (bring on the sightseeing!), and it will still be relatively easy and comfortable for you to travel and move around at this time. Keep in mind that once you hit that third trimester, pregnancy travel might be more difficult as you find it harder to move around and stay still for long periods of time.

It's complicated (and often a personal decision based on your own risk factors), but the CDC says that if you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19, you can travel. Of course, it's important you still do everything you can to keep yourself and others around you safe, including following all mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines in the destination you visit.

Women are at an increased risk for severe illness if they contract COVID-19 while pregnant , and they're more likely to experience preterm birth and other poor pregnancy outcomes. (This is why the CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine all recommend that women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or are planning on becoming pregnant get the COVID vaccine .)

If you're vaccinated and decide to travel, the CDC advises avoiding international destinations that are designated Level 4, due to high rates of local COVID-19 transmission.

Take all this information into account and talk to your doctor before you decide on where and when to travel while you're pregnant. And if you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, whether while traveling or at home, call your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

The guidelines for when to stop traveling while you're pregnant vary based on your mode of travel, but more or less, you should wrap up travel before you're 36 weeks pregnant.

Most airlines will let pregnant women fly domestically until they're 36 weeks pregnant – and many cut that off earlier for international travel. This rule is often enforced on an honor system policy, but some airlines may ask for a doctor’s note – so make sure you have that from your healthcare provider if you're traveling in the third trimester, just in case.

Most cruise ships don't allow travel after 24 weeks of pregnancy. Some cruise lines' cutoff dates vary, so verify policies before booking a cruise.

As for road trips, there's no official deadline for when you need to stop traveling, but your personal comfort level (physically and emotionally) – and your doctor's advice – might help you decide. You can drive while pregnant all the way up until your due date, but things may get considerably less comfortable on longer trips as you approach full term.  

Travel of any kind requires advance preparation, but when you're pregnant and traveling, that pre-trip checklist gets a little longer. Give yourself a little more time than usual to plan for a trip – and use the tips below to stay safe and comfortable on your next adventure.

Before you travel

  • Talk to your healthcare provider to determine if your trip is safe for you and if there are any medical concerns to consider. It's a good idea to discuss any activities you plan to do while you're away too. If you're planning an international trip, make sure to ask about any vaccines you may need for the areas you're visiting.
  • Make sure you know your prenatal test schedule. Plan travels around any prenatal tests you need to schedule, including ultrasounds and other important screening tests.
  • Book an aisle seat. You'll likely be more comfortable being able to get up to stretch or go to the bathroom on longer flights.
  • Buy travel insurance. You don't need special travel insurance when you're pregnant, but it's never a bad idea to secure a policy. You may want to consider one with a “cancel for any reason” clause that reimburses you for money lost on cancelled trips for reasons (read: any reason) beyond what’s listed on the base policy. Check with your personal health insurance, too, to make sure it covers potential pregnancy complications while traveling internationally (some don’t). Consider adding evacuation insurance as part of a travel insurance plan, too.
  • Gather your medical records and health information . If you’re in your second or third trimester, ask your ob-gyn or midwife for a digital copy of your prenatal chart, and have that easily accessible during your trip. Typically, this chart includes your age, your blood type, the name and contact information for your healthcare provider, the date of your last menstrual period, your due date, information about any prior pregnancies, your risk factors for disease, results of pregnancy-related lab tests (including ultrasounds or other imaging tests), your medical and surgical history, and a record of vital signs taken at each visit.
  • Keep a list of key names and numbers you may need in the event of an emergency saved on your phone and written on a piece of paper (in case your battery dies).
  • Have a contingency plan for doctors and hospitals that will take your insurance where you're going in case you go into labor early or experience pregnancy complications that require urgent care while you're away from home.
  • Pack medicines and prenatal vitamins. That might include an extended supply of prescriptions and over-the-counter remedies , too. Bring enough to cover your entire trip and a written prescription that you can fill if you lose anything. It's a good idea to keep prescription medicine in its original container, so if your bags are searched it will be clear that you're not using medication without a prescription.
  • Prepare for the unexpected. On a road trip, that might mean an unexpected breakdown, so join an auto club that provides roadside assistance. Download any apps you use for renting cars and accessing boarding passes before you leave so you can easily reschedule things in the event of a last-minute cancellation.
  • If you're flying during your third trimester, be sure to call the airline to check about the cutoff week for pregnancy travel. A note from your doctor that says you’re cleared to travel is always good to have when traveling during your third trimester.

During your trip

  • Drink plenty of water and continue to eat healthy foods . Keep in mind that many restaurants abroad commonly serve unpasteurized foods (like soft cheeses and milk), which can be dangerous for pregnant women due to the presence of listeria.
  • Avoid eating raw or undercooked meat or fish , drinks with ice (which may be contaminated), non-bottled water, and other foods that can cause traveler's diarrhea, which can be more of a problem for pregnant women than other people.
  • On long flights and drives, take time to stretch by pulling over for a walk or strolling up and down the airplane aisle. And when seated, always wear your seat belt .
  • Maternity compression socks are handy to have along – both in transit and worn under your clothes while you’re out and about exploring – because they can ease the symptoms of swollen feet and legs. These are a few of our favorite pregnancy compression socks .
  • Take advantage of help. Many countries have dedicated lines in shops and airports for pregnant travelers, so don't feel any shame taking a shorter wait if you see one.
  • Go easy on yourself. Remember, you're growing a baby. You might not have quite the stamina for sightseeing and late nights like you used to pre-pregnancy. Make the most of your vacation but don't fret you miss out on things because you need more downtime from exploring than you usually would.
  • Don’t forget to get photos of your bump. When your baby is older, you'll have fun showing them all the places you traveled with them before they were born.
  • Go for the comfy shoes. Travel during pregnancy is the best reason ever to forgo those strappy stilettos for your favorite sneakers .
  • Pack snacks so you always have something to curb your appetite if there’s a long wait for a restaurant or you get stuck in transit or someplace remote with no food offerings.
  • Try to be in the moment with your travel partners as much as possible. Once your baby is born, your attention will be pulled in a whole new direction.

If you have any medical concerns traveling while pregnant, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call your doctor for advice. The below are a few symptoms that definitely warrant calling your ob-gyn or health care provider or seeking emergency care while traveling or at home:

  • Signs of pre-term labor (including a constant, low dull backache, bleeding, etc.)
  • Ruptured membranes (your water breaks)
  • Severe cramping
  • Spiking blood pressure
  • Severe nausea or vomiting
  • COVID-19 symptoms

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BabyCenter's editorial team is committed to providing the most helpful and trustworthy pregnancy and parenting information in the world. When creating and updating content, we rely on credible sources: respected health organizations, professional groups of doctors and other experts, and published studies in peer-reviewed journals. We believe you should always know the source of the information you're seeing. Learn more about our editorial and medical review policies .

AAFP. 2020. Ultrasound during pregnancy. American Academy of Family Physicians.  https://familydoctor.org/ultrasound-during-pregnancy/ Opens a new window [Accessed April 2023]

ACOG. 2020. FAQ055: Travel during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.  https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/travel-during-pregnancy Opens a new window [Accessed April 2023]

CDC. 2019. Pregnant Travelers. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/family-travel/pregnant-travelers Opens a new window [Accessed April 2023]

CDC. 2022. Domestic Travel During Covid-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html Opens a new window [Accessed April 2023]

CDC 2023. International Travel During Covid-19. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html Opens a new window [Accessed April 2023]

CDC. 2022. Covid-19: Pregnant and Recently Pregnant People. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnant-people.html Opens a new window [Accessed April 2023]

Terry Ward

Terry Ward is a freelance travel, health, and parenting writer who has covered everything from flying with toddlers to why you should travel with your kids even when they're too young to remember it. She lives in Tampa, Florida, with her husband and their young son and daughter, and enjoys camping, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, and almost anything else done in the great outdoors.

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Here Are the Rules for Flying When You're Pregnant

Whether you're newly pregnant or planning a babymoon right before welcoming your baby, here's what parents-to-be need to know about airline travel during each trimester.

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.

GETTY IMAGES

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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Safety of Air Travel During Pregnancy

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Pregnancy was once seen as something that sent women to their homes once their bellies began to protrude (hence the term "confinement"). It was not considered appropriate for pregnant people to be seen in public.

Nowadays pregnancy rarely changes schedules, with the exception of high-risk pregnancies or other complications. People usually can continue their normal lives for the duration of the pregnancy, with minor exceptions (like knowing where all the bathrooms are!). Travel is no exception.

Travel is becoming more prevalent as families move further and further apart. Traveling for holidays, or as the last trip to see the family before the baby comes, or as a last romantic vacation, is not unusual. This includes out of the country travel and often air travel.

The Science on Pregnancy and Air Travel

For ethical reasons, there are not many studies on air travel and miscarriage rates. One 2015 study showed a slight increase in first-trimester miscarriage for flight attendants, but this was often associated with high physical job demands and disruptions to their sleep cycles.

In-flight radiation is also a slight risk for flight attendants. An estimated 2% of flight attendants are exposed to a solar particle event during their pregnancies, although the amount of radiation varies by length of time in the air, the routes flown, and so on. However, the risk to the average flier is negligible. The average 10-hour flight only exposes fliers to 0.05 mSv of radiation, or 1/1000th of the limit set by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Precautions for Air Travel During Pregnancy

Flying is fairly safe while pregnant, even for flight attendants, with some minor adjustments. There are, however, some issues to bear in mind if you are pregnant and considering multiple, frequent, or very long flights:

  • Air travel is extremely dehydrating. You'll need to drink a lot of water while in the air.
  • Air travel requires that you sit still for long periods. If you're likely to experience cramps or other pregnancy-associated issues, you may be quite uncomfortable.
  • Airplanes are not equipped to handle in-air birth or pregnancy-related complications . Even if your airline permits travel, you may simply be smarter to stay on the ground if you're close to giving birth or are experiencing any pregnancy-related issues.

There are some precautions that a pregnant traveler should consider:

  • Talk to your practitioner before flying. If you are more than 36 weeks pregnant, many airlines will not let you fly for fear that you'll deliver on board.
  • Try to do the majority of your traveling in the second trimester . Not only will you be more comfortable, but in general the risks of miscarriage and preterm labor are lower.
  • Avoid excessive flying. Although there are no hard and fast numbers, one study found that flight attendants with higher miscarriage rates flew on average 74 hours per month.
  • Make comfort arrangements. Try to get seats with more legroom, plan to walk in the aisles, anticipate bathroom breaks, and bring water.
  • Avoid travel to countries that would require immunizations that you don't already have or are that are not considered safe for pregnancy. Talk to your practitioner for more info on immunizations during pregnancy, as some immunizations are considered appropriate while pregnant.
  • Because pregnant people are more vulnerable to COVID-19, you may wish to avoid unnecessary travel, particularly to high-risk areas.

So remember, flying is not contraindicated in an uncomplicated pregnancy, but use your common sense and speak to your practitioner about your travel plans.

Grajewski B, Whelan EA, Lawson CC, et al. Miscarriage among flight attendants . Epidemiology . 2015;26(2):192-203. doi:10.1097/EDE.0000000000000225

Hezelgrave NL, Whitty CJM, Shennan AH, Chappell LC. Advising on travel during pregnancy . BMJ. 2011;342:d2506. doi:10.1136/bmj.d2506

Zubac D, Stella AB, Morrison SA. Up in the air: Evidence of dehydration risk and long-haul flight on athletic performance . Nutrients . 2020;12(9):2574-2589. doi:10.3390/nu12092574

Cone JE, Vaughan LM, Huete A, Samuels S. Reproductive health outcomes among female flight attendants: An exploratory study . J Occup Environ Med. 1998;40(3):210-216.

Ellington S, Strid P, Tong VT, et al. Characteristics of women of reproductive age with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection by pregnancy status — United States, January 22–June 7, 2020 . MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020;69(25):769-775. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm6925a1

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.

Air travel and pregnancy

Published: May 2015

Please note that this information will be reviewed every 3 years after publication.

Updated: May 2022

This information is for you if you are pregnant and are thinking of travelling by air.

This information is for you if you are pregnant and are thinking of travelling by air. It may also be helpful if you are a partner, relative or friend of someone in this difficult situation.

The information is relevant for short haul (under four hours), medium and long haul (over four hours) flights.

If you are a member of a flight crew or you fly frequently as part of your work, you should seek additional advice from your occupational health department concerning your own situation.

The information here aims to help you better understand your health and your options for treatment and care. Your healthcare team is there to support you in making decisions that are right for you. They can help by discussing your situation with you and answering your questions.

Within this information we may use the terms ‘woman’ and ‘women’. However, it is not only people who identify as women who may want to access this information. Your care should be personalised, inclusive and sensitive to your needs whatever your gender identity.

A glossary of medical terms is available at  A-Z of medical terms .

  • Occasional air travel during pregnancy is not harmful for you or your baby as long as you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy
  • Long flights may increase your chance of developing a blood clot. There are things you can do to reduce your chance of this happening.
  • It is important to check the healthcare facilities that are available at your destination, in case you need any emergency care.

If your pregnancy is straightforward, flying is not harmful for you or your baby:

  • If you have a straightforward pregnancy and are healthy, there is no evidence that the changes in air pressure and/or the decrease in humidity have a harmful effect on you or your baby.
  • There is no evidence that flying will cause miscarriage, early labour or your waters to break.

Anyone who flies is exposed to a slight increase in radiation. Occasional flights are not considered to present a risk to you or your baby

When you are pregnant, the safest time to fly is:

  • Before 37 weeks, if you are carrying one baby. From 37 weeks of pregnancy you could go into labour at any time, which is why many women choose not to fly after this time.
  • Before 32 weeks, if you are carrying an uncomplicated twin pregnancy.

It is important to know that most obstetric emergencies happen in the first and third trimester .

Most airlines do not allow women to fly after 37 weeks. It is important that you check with your airline before flying. It may also be more difficult to get travel insurance after 37 weeks.

Some pregnant women may experience discomfort during flying. You may have:

  • swelling of your legs due to fluid retention (oedema)
  • nasal congestion/problems with your ears – during pregnancy you are more likely to have a blocked nose and, combined with this, the changes in air pressure in the plane can also cause you to experience problems in your ears
  • pregnancy sickness – if you experience motion sickness during the flight, it can make your sickness worse.

A DVT is a blood clot that forms in your leg or pelvis. If it travels to your lungs (pulmonary embolism) it can be life threatening. When you are pregnant and for up to six weeks after the birth of your baby, you have a higher risk of developing a DVT compared with women who are not pregnant (for more information please see the RCOG patient information Reducing the risk of venous thrombosis in pregnancy and after birth.

There is an increased risk of developing a DVT while flying, due to sitting for a prolonged length of time. The risk of a DVT increases with the length of the flight. Your risk is also increased if you have additional risk factors such as a previous DVT or you are overweight. Your midwife or doctor will be able to check your individual risk.

If you are taking a short haul flight (less than four hours), it is unlikely that you will need to take any special measures. Your midwife or doctor should give you an individual risk assessment for venous thrombosis and advice for your own situation.

To minimise the risk of a DVT on a medium or a long haul flight (over four hours), you should:

  • wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes
  • try to get an aisle seat and take regular walks around the plane
  • do in-seat exercises every 30 minutes or so – the airline should give you information on these
  • have cups of water at regular intervals throughout your flight
  • cut down on drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine (coffee, fizzy drinks)
  • wear graduated elastic compression stockings – your midwife or doctor will need to provide the correct size and type for you as they are different from standard flight socks.

If you have other risk factors for a DVT, regardless of the length of your flight, you may be advised to have heparin injections. These will thin your blood and help prevent a DVT. A heparin injection should be taken on the day of the flight and daily for a few days afterward. For security reasons, you will need a letter from your doctor to enable you to carry these injections onto the plane.

Low-dose aspirin does not appear to reduce the risk of a DVT but you should continue to take it if it has been prescribed for another reason.

A medical condition or health problem can complicate your pregnancy and put you and your baby at risk. For this reason, if any of the following apply, you may be advised not to fly:

  • You are at increased risk of going into labour before your due date.
  • You have severe anaemia. This is when the level of red blood cells in your blood is lower than normal. Red blood cells contain the iron-rich pigment haemoglobin, which carries oxygen around your body.
  • You have sickle cell disease (a condition which affects red blood cells) and you have recently had a sickle crisis.
  • You have recently had significant vaginal bleeding.
  • You have a serious condition affecting your lungs or heart that makes it very difficult for you to breathe.

It is important that you discuss any health issues or pregnancy complications with your midwife or doctor before you fly. If have an increased chance of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy, ask for an ultrasound scan for reassurance before you fly.

Be aware that the unexpected can happen while travelling which could delay your return home. Some airlines may not allow you to fly if you have fractured a bone, have a middle ear or a sinus infection or have recently had surgery to your abdomen that involved your bowel, such as having your appendix removed.

To help decide whether or not to fly, think about your own medical history and any increased risks that you may have. The following questions may also help you in making your decision:

  • Why do you want to fly at this particular time?
  • Is your flight necessary?
  • How long is your flight? Will this increase your risk of medical problems?
  • Your chance of going into labour is higher the further you are in pregnancy.
  • It is also important to remember that having a miscarriage, whether you fly or not, is common (one in five) in the first three months of pregnancy.
  • What are the medical facilities at your destination in the event of an unexpected complication with your pregnancy?
  • Have you had all the relevant immunisations and/or medication for the country you are travelling to? Have you checked with your doctor about how these affect your pregnancy?
  • Does your travel insurance cover pregnancy and/or care for your newborn baby if you give birth unexpectedly? There is huge variation among airlines and travel insurance policies so it is worth checking before you decide to fly.
  • Have you discussed your travel plans with your midwife and informed them that you are thinking about taking a medium or long haul flight?
  • If you are over 28 weeks pregnant, your airline may ask you to get a letter from your midwife or doctor stating when your baby is due and confirming that you are in good health, are having a straightforward pregnancy, and are not at an increased risk of complications.
  • Any document needed to confirm your due date and that you are fit to fly. Some airlines have their own forms/documents that will need to be completed at any stage of pregnancy. Contact your airline if you are unsure.

If you are travelling to Europe, it is recommended that you apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This will allow you to access routine healthcare at a reduced cost, or for free. For more information on what the card covers and how to apply, see the GOV.UK website.   .

You will have to go through the normal security checks before flying. This is not considered to be a risk to you or your baby.

You must wear a seatbelt. You should ensure the strap of your seatbelt is reasonably tightly fastened across the top of your thighs and then under your bump. Ask the cabin crew if you need a seatbelt extension.

Any pregnant woman has a small chance of going into labour early or for her waters to break early. If this happens to you on a flight, there is no guarantee that other passengers or crewmembers will be trained and experienced to help you give birth safely. As a result, the pilot may have to divert the flight to get help for you.

Flying while you are pregnant can be stressful. If you are feeling anxious or worried in any way, please speak to your healthcare team who can answer your questions and help you get support. The support may come from healthcare professionals, voluntary organisations or other services. Further information and resources are available on the NHS website:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/

Further information

  • RCOG Scientific Impact Paper Air Travel and Pregnancy
  • Tommy’s website: https://www.tommys.org/

If you are asked to make a choice, you may have lots of questions that you want to ask. You may also want to talk over your options with your family or friends. It can help to write a list of the questions you want answered and take it to your appointment.

Ask 3 Questions

To begin with, try to make sure you get the answers to  3 key questions , if you are asked to make a choice about your healthcare:

  • What are my options?
  • What are the pros and cons of each option for me?
  • How do I get support to help me make a decision that is right for me?

*Ask 3 Questions is based on Shepherd et al. Three questions that patients can ask to improve the quality of information physicians give about treatment options: A cross-over trial. Patient Education and Counselling, 2011;84:379-85  

  • https://aqua.nhs.uk/resources/shared-decision-making-case-studies/

Sources and acknowledgments

This information has been developed by the RCOG Patient Information Committee. It is based on the RCOG Scientific Impact Paper Air Travel and Pregnancy (May 2013), which contains a full list of the sources of evidence we have used. You can find it online here .

This information was reviewed before publication by women attending clinics in London, the Channel Isles and Northern Ireland, and by the RCOG Women’s Voices Involvement Panel.

A glossary of all medical terms is available on the RCOG website at: www.rcog.org.uk/womens-health/patientinformation/medical-terms-explained .

Please give us feedback by completing our feedback survey:

  • Members of the public – patient information feedback
  • Healthcare professionals – patient information feedback

Flying while pregnant? Here’s what you need to know

Summer Hull

Editors note: This guide has been updated with the latest information.

During pregnancy, seemingly harmless things like eating deli meat and cleaning your cat's litter box are suddenly off-limits, along with more obvious restrictions on sports like skiing and scuba diving.

But what about "grey area" activities like flying in an airplane?

There's no single set of guidelines governing air travel during pregnancy and every airline has different restrictions, timelines and requirements. Some airlines may also require a medical certificate from a primary attending doctor or midwife for air travel during the final months of pregnancy, though even that varies, with U.S. airlines typically offering more flexibility than international carriers.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter .

In the absence of clear guidelines, TPG turned to Dr. Nithya Gopal , a board-certified OB-GYN physician and the Director of OB-GYN services at Viva Eve in New York City, for her expert recommendations on safe air travel during pregnancy.

Here's what she had to say:

Is it safe to fly when you are pregnant?

There is no evidence of adverse pregnancy outcomes due to flying, according to Dr. Gopal.

"The general consensus is that it is safest to fly in the first and second trimesters," Dr. Gopal told The Points Guy. "While the first and third trimesters tend to be when the most obstetric emergencies are going to happen, I personally become more cautious with my patients after 32 weeks because of the increased risk for premature labor and the possibility of needing urgent medical attention when you are in the sky."

safe air travel during pregnancy

The most important thing you can do, no matter how far along you are in your pregnancy, is to consult with your healthcare provider before flying.

"Any time you are planning to fly during pregnancy , you should be having that conversation," Dr. Gopal said. Your provider will be familiar with any safety precautions you should take to ensure a safe and healthy flight.

Related: Guide to flying in each trimester of pregnancy

The airline you are flying may have its own cutoff, so you will want to confirm with it beforehand whether you will be allowed to fly if you are in (or nearing) your third trimester. We've included a chart below that outlines the rules for most major airline carriers.

What can you do to stay comfortable on a flight?

safe air travel during pregnancy

When you factor in morning sickness and general pregnancy discomfort with the increased risk for blood clots that all fliers need to be aware of, flying during pregnancy can be uncomfortable even when it is deemed safe.

Dr. Gopal shared her recommendations for addressing these common issues when you take to the (baby-) friendly skies during pregnancy. Her number one tip for staying comfortable while in flight is to wear compression socks to help maintain blood flow and reduce swelling in the legs.

In addition, "I also tell my patients to get up and move at least every hour when they are on the plane," Dr. Gopal said.

To prevent clotting, "some doctors may also prescribe a low-dose aspirin," she added. "It isn't something that is recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), but it isn't harmful, either."

If it's nausea or acid reflux that ail you, there are medications generally considered safe that you can take to alleviate your symptoms. These would be the same ones prescribed by your doctor for morning sickness, so speak with your provider before your flight to ensure you have what you need at the ready.

Dr. Gopal also advises wearing loose, unrestrictive clothing (along with your seatbelt, or course) and drinking extra fluids to counteract the pressurized air in the cabin and keep you hydrated.

"Over-the-counter Gas-X may also help with bloating that can happen as a result of the pressurized air," Dr. Gopal said.

Related: What happens when a baby is born in flight?

Must you speak with your healthcare provider before flying?

safe air travel during pregnancy

Even if your pregnancy is considered low-risk, it's always a smart idea to speak with your healthcare provider before flying. "There are a number of potential risks that go along with flying during pregnancy and those risks can change from week to week and month to month, so it's important to have that honest conversation with your doctor," Dr. Gopal said.

Related: Things You Should Do Before, During and After Flying to Stay Healthy

There are certain pregnancy conditions that may make flying more risky or unadvisable. If you are hypertensive, asthmatic or prone to clotting disorders, it's even more critical to speak with your doctor before flying.

Airline policies differ, but if you need documentation, it never hurts to include enough detail to satisfy the most stringent airline requirements.

"As with many things related to air travel, it's better to be safe than sorry," Dr. Gopal said. "It's definitely worth it, and sometimes necessary, to have medical documentation from your provider's office."

A thorough medical certificate or waiver should state:

  • The number of weeks of pregnancy.
  • The estimated delivery date.
  • Whether the pregnancy is single or multiple.
  • Whether there are any complications.
  • That you are in good health and fit to travel through the date of your final flight.

Additionally, the certificate should be:

  • Written on official clinic or hospital letterhead if possible.
  • Signed by the doctor or attending midwife.
  • Be dated no later than 72 hours before the departure date.
  • Be written in clear, simple English.

Carry this certificate with you on your flight. Some airlines won't ask to see it, but others will. Some airlines also may have their own documentation requirements. See the chart below to find out which airlines require it.

Airline policies for pregnant women

Bottom line.

safe air travel during pregnancy

Even though it may be deemed safe, flying during pregnancy can be uncomfortable — and it is perfectly acceptable to implement your own cutoff for flying with your baby bump in tow. The majority of the time, though, flying is perfectly safe during pregnancy, providing that you follow the guidelines of the airline and your healthcare provider. Read on to learn more about traveling before, during and after pregnancy:

  • What to expect in every trimester of pregnancy
  • 4 tips for planning travel while planning a pregnancy
  • Babymoon boom! These are the top 10 spots for a US getaway before the baby comes
  • Flying with a baby checklist

Additional reporting by Katherine Fan and Tarah Chieffi.

Flying While Pregnant? Check Out the Policies on 25 Global Airlines

safe air travel during pregnancy

In the absence of obstetric or medical complications, occasional air travel during pregnancy is generally safe, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology  (ACOG). Like other travelers, pregnant women should use seat belts while seated. 

Most commercial airlines allow pregnant women to fly up to 36 weeks of gestation, with some restrictions on international flights. 

ACOG does not recommend air travel for pregnant women with medical or obstetric conditions that may be exacerbated by flight or that could require emergency care. It advises checking flight durations when planning travel and that the most common obstetric emergencies occur in the first and third trimesters.

Once aboard a flight, conditions including changes in cabin pressure and low humidity, coupled with the physiologic changes of pregnancy, do result in adaptations, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, reports ACOG. And those traveling on long-haul flights face the risks associated with immobilization and low cabin humidity. This can cause issues such as lower extremity edema and venous thrombotic events.

ACOG recommends preventive measures to minimize these risks, including the use of support stockings, regular movement of the lower extremities, avoid wearing restrictive clothing and encourage regular hydration. It also advises against consuming gas-producing foods or drinks before a flight.

Other ways for pregnant women to be comfortable on their flights include: booking a bulkhead seat for more legroom; reserving an aisle seat for easy access to lavatories and to walk; elevating your legs on a carry-on bag to avoid swelling and cramps; and wearing a layered, comfortable outfit for changing cabin temperatures.

Airlines around the world have different rules and regulations on when and how long pregnant women can fly. Below are the policies from 25 airlines around the world.

The French flag carrier does not require pregnant women to carry a medical certificate for travel during pregnancy. It recommends avoiding travel in the final month of pregnancy, as well as during the first seven days after delivery. The airline also recommends expecting mothers seek their doctor's opinion before traveling.

India’s flag carrier allows expectant mothers in good health to fly up to and including their 27th week of pregnancy. After 27 weeks, if the pregnancy is anticipated to be a normal delivery, an expectant mother will be accepted for travel up to the 35th week, but a medical certificate confirming the mother is fit to travel is required by an attending obstetrician and dated within three days of travel.

Air New Zealand

For single, uncomplicated pregnancies and clearance from a doctor or midwife women can take flights more than four hours up to the end of their 36th week. For flights under four hours, it's up to the end of the 40th week. Women pregnant with twins can fly more than four hours up to their 32nd week and less than four hours until the 36th week.

The airline recommends that women past their 28th week carry a letter from a doctor or midwife that says you are fit for travel, confirming your pregnancy dates and that there are no complications.

The airline's medical team must offer clearance for women experiencing the following: a complicated pregnancy, such as placenta previa or bleeding; a multiple pregnancy; a history of premature labor; or have begun the early stages of labor. 

Italy's flag carrier has no travel restrictions for expectant mothers during the first eight months of pregnancy. But if traveling within the last four weeks of pregnancy, expecting multiple births, or having a complicated pregnancy, medical clearance is required. Completion of a Medical Information Form, MEDIF , prior to travel and signed by both the passenger and doctor is required.

Alitalia advises pregnant not to fly seven days prior to and seven days after giving birth, or if there is a risk of a premature birth or other complications. It will make staff available to escort pregnant women from the airport check-in counter to the boarding gate. Staff onboard the flight will help stow carry-on luggage. Seats can be pre-assigned and women cannot sit in an exit row.

All Nippon Airways

The Japanese carrier requires women within 15 to 28 days of their due date to fill out and carry a medical information form . Women within 14 days of their due date are required to have a medical form and travel with a doctor. The form must indicate there are no complications of pregnancy, that the passenger has no health problems preventing them from flying and the due date. It must be completed by a doctor and submitted no more than seven days prior to departure.

American Airlines

The Fort Worth-based carrier has different rules for international and domestic flights. If a due date is within four weeks of a flight, you must provide a doctor’s certificate stating that you’ve been recently examined and you’re fit to fly. For domestic flights under five hours, pregnant women won’t be permitted to travel within seven days (before and after) their delivery date. Those who need travel within this timeframe will need approval from a physician and help from a special assistance coordinator . The pregnant woman's physician will be required to fill out a passenger medical form before a flight. A special assistance coordinator will send the form directly to your physician.

Clearance from a special assistance coordinator is required for international travel or travel over water. Within four weeks of a due date also requires a physician's note stating that you’ve been examined within the past 48 hours and you’re fit to fly. And seven days before or after delivery also requires a passenger medical form to be completed by your physician.

British Airways

The U.K. carrier does not allow pregnant women to fly after the end of the 36th week if you are pregnant with one baby or the end of the 32nd week if you are pregnant with more than one baby. While it isn't mandated, British Airways recommends all expecting mothers carry a confirmation from a doctor or midwife, such as a letter or certificate, in addition to your pregnancy record. It should be written within seven days prior to travel and confirm your approximate due date, that you're fit to travel and that there are no complications with your pregnancy.

Cathay Pacific

 Hong Kong's flag carrier requires that women with pregnancies after 28 weeks carry a medical certificate, dated within 10 days of travel that states the following: 

  • single or multiple pregnancy
  • estimated week of pregnancy
  • expected due date 
  • certifying you are in good health and the pregnancy is progressing normally, without complications
  • that you are fit to travel

The airline accepts pregnant women with uncomplicated single pregnancies to travel up to 36 weeks and uncomplicated multiple pregnancies up to 32 weeks.

Delta Air Lines

The Atlanta-based carrier does not impose restrictions on flying for pregnant women, so a medical certificate is not required to travel. But the airline will not waive ticket change fees and penalties for pregnancy. The airline recommends that those flying after their eight month should check with their doctor to be sure travel is not restricted.

The U.K.-based airline has no restrictions for pregnant passengers traveling up to the end of the 35th week of single pregnancies and the end of the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies.

Pregnant women can travel up to their 29th week without a medical certificate. After that, they require a certificate or letter signed by a qualified doctor or midwife that states whether the pregnancy is single or multiple, is progressing without complications, includes an estimated due date, that you are in good health and there's no known reason to prevent you from flying. Pregnant passengers are not allowed to fly after the 32nd week of a multiple pregnancy, and after the 36th week of a single pregnancy.

This Abu Dhabi-based carrier allows women with single or multiple pregnancies to travel during the first 28 weeks without a medical certificate. For single pregnancies between 29 and 36 weeks, a medical certificate is required. After 37 weeks, pregnant women will not be allowed to travel. For multiple pregnancies, a certificate is required between the 29th and 32nd week; after that, women will not be allowed to travel.

The medical certificate must include the following: 

  • Be issued and signed by a doctor or midwife
  • Written on a clinic/hospital letterhead and/or stamped by the doctor or midwife
  • State that the guest is fit to fly
  • State if the pregnancy is single or multiple
  • State the number of weeks of pregnancy and the Expected Date of Delivery 
  • Easily understood and written in Arabic or English. Other languages are accepted but must be verified by Etihad Airways' check-in staff

The original medical certificate shall be accepted for the whole journey (originating, return and stopover flights), provided the above validity criteria is met for each sector. And it is valid for three weeks from the date of issue.

The New York-based carrier does not allow pregnant customers expecting to deliver within seven days to travel unless they provide a doctor's certificate dated no more than 72 hours prior to departure stating that the woman is physically fit for air travel to and from the destinations requested on the date of the flight and that the estimated date of delivery is after the date of the last flight.

The Dutch flag carrier recommends pregnant mothers not fly after the 36th week, along with the first week following delivery. For those expecting more than one baby, the carrier recommends consulting with a physician prior to flying. If you have had complications, you always need to have permission to fly from your physician.

Expectant mothers with complication-free pregnancies can fly on the German flag carrier until the end of the 36th week of pregnancy or up to four weeks before their expected due date without a medical certificate from a gynecologist. But the airline recommends that pregnant women beyond the 28th week have a current letter from a gynecologist that includes confirmation that the pregnancy is progressing without complications and the expected due date. The doctor should expressly state that the patient’s pregnancy does not prevent her from flying.

Because of the increased risk of thrombosis during pregnancy, the airline does recommend that expectant mothers wear compression stockings while flying.

Malaysia Airlines

The Malaysian flag carrier requires medical clearance for expectant mothers approaching 35 weeks for international travel or 36 weeks for domestic travel. If medical clearance is required, the MEDIF application form should be completed by a doctor and submitted to the airline through its ticketing offices or travel agents at least five working days before traveling.

Philippine Airlines

An expectant mother who is in normal health and with no pregnancy complications will be allowed to fly after filling out an EMIS form . Pregnant women may be accepted for travel if they are not beyond 35 weeks when they fill out Part One of the EMIS form. Those between 24 and 32 weeks of pregnancy will have to fill out EMIS Form Part 2. And if the expectant mother is below 21 years of age, the consent in writing of the husband, parent or guardian must be secured. For expectant mothers beyond 32 weeks of pregnancy, EMIS Part 3 must be accomplished by the Flight Surgeon or Company Physician, who shall issue the clearance for travel

After the 28th week, women are required to have a certificate or letter from a registered medical practitioner or registered midwife confirming the delivery date, whether it's a single or multiple pregnancy and that the pregnancy is routine.

For flights longer than four hours, women can fly up to the end of the 36th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 32nd week for multiple pregnancies. For flights under four hours, women can travel up to the end of the 40th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 36th week for multiple pregnancies. The carrier requires medical clearance  if there are pregnancy complications or it's not a routine pregnancy.

Qatar Airways

 No doctor's note is required for women traveling through their 28th week of pregnancy. Expectant mothers can fly between week 29 and week 32 with a doctor's note and a pregnancy with no complications. Those with a multiple pregnancy will need a doctor's note and a  Medical Information Form (MEDIF) . Between weeks 33 and 35, women will need a doctor's note and a MEDIF. The airline does not accept women in their 36th week and beyond.

 The low-cost Irish carrier allows expectant mothers to fly up to their 28th week of pregnancy. After that, the airline requires women to have a ‘fit to fly’ letter from their midwife or doctor. For an uncomplicated single pregnancy, travel is not permitted beyond the end of the 36th week of pregnancy, while the cut-off for an uncomplicated multiple pregnancy is 32 weeks. 

Singapore Airlines

For uncomplicated single pregnancies, the carrier restricts expectant mothers from travelling beyond the 36th week of pregnancy; for uncomplicated multiple pregnancies, the restriction is the 32nd week.

For uncomplicated single pregnancies between 29 weeks and 36 weeks, expectant mothers must provide a medical certificate stating the following: (1) fitness to travel, (2) number of weeks of pregnancy and (3) estimated date of delivery. The certificate should be dated within ten days of the date of the first flight exceeding 28 weeks of pregnancy. This certificate will have to be presented at check-in when requested.

Southwest Airlines

The Dallas-based carrier advises expectant mothers at any stage of pregnancy to consult with their physicians prior to air travel. The airline recommends against air travel beginning at the 38th week of pregnancy. It warns that in some cases, traveling by air has been known to cause complications or premature labor. Depending on their physical condition, strength, and agility, pregnant women may, in some cases, be asked not to sit in the emergency exit row.

Turkish Airlines

Turkey's flag carrier allows mothers pregnant with one child to travel between the 28th and 35th week if they have a doctor's report that includes the phrase, “There is no particular reason for the patient not to fly.” For women pregnant with more then one baby, the travel cut-off is the end of the 31st week with a doctor's report. The report has to be no more than seven days from the travel date. 

United Airlines

Any woman in the first 36 weeks of pregnancy will be allowed to travel on the Chicago-based carrier without medical documentation. An expectant mother traveling after the 36 weeks of pregnancy must have the original and two copies of an obstetrician’s certificate, which must be dated within 72 hours of a flight’s departure. The original certificate should be submitted to a United representative at check-in.

Virgin Atlantic

 The London-based airline allows travel without restrictions until the 28th week of pregnancy provided that you're free from complications to that point. The carrier asks pregnant mothers to inform its Special Assistance department so they can offer appropriate inflight health advice. Between the 28th and 36th weeks of pregnancy, a doctor's or midwife's certificate is required, stating that the passenger is safe for travel and the expected due date (32 weeks if carrying multiples in an uncomplicated pregnancy). Beyond the 36th week of pregnancy, travel is only permitted for medical/compassionate reasons and the pregnant passenger is required to be accompanied by a medical escort. This travel is subject to the approval of a Virgin Atlantic doctor.

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  • Section 6 - Medical Tourism
  • Section 7 - Travel & Breastfeeding

Pregnant Travelers

Cdc yellow book 2024.

Author(s): Romeo Galang, I. Dale Carroll, Titilope Oduyebo

  • The Pretravel Consultation

Infectious Disease Concerns

Environmental health concerns, transportation considerations.

Pregnancy can cause physiologic changes that require special consideration during travel. With careful preparation, however, most pregnant people can travel safely.

Pretravel Consultation

The pretravel consultation and evaluation of pregnant travelers ( Box 7-01 ) should begin with a careful medical and obstetric history, specifically assessing gestational age and the presence of factors and conditions that increase risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. A visit with an obstetric health care provider also should be a part of the pretravel assessment to ensure routine prenatal care and identify any potential problems. Instruct pregnant travelers to carry with them a copy of their prenatal records and physician’s contact information.

Review the pregnant person’s travel itinerary, including accommodations, activities, and destinations, to guide pretravel health advice. Discourage pregnant travelers from undertaking unaccustomed vigorous activity. Swimming and snorkeling during pregnancy generally are safe, but falls during waterskiing have been reported to inject water into the birth canal. Most experts advise against scuba diving for pregnant people because of risk for fetal gas embolism during decompression (see Sec. 4, Ch. 4, Scuba Diving: Decompression Illness & Other Dive-Related Injuries ). Riding animals, bicycles, or motorcycles presents risks for abdominal trauma.

Educate pregnant people on how to avoid travel-associated risks, manage minor pregnancy discomforts, and recognize more serious complications. Advise pregnant people to seek urgent medical attention if they experience contractions or premature labor; symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (e.g., unusual leg swelling and pain in the calf or thigh) or pulmonary embolism (e.g., unusual shortness of breath); dehydration, diarrhea, or vomiting; severe pelvic or abdominal pain; symptoms of preeclampsia (e.g., severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, unusual swelling, vision changes); prelabor rupture of the membranes; or vaginal bleeding.

Box 7-01 Pretravel consultation for pregnant travelers: a checklist for health care providers

☐ Review vaccination history (e.g., COVID-19, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, measles, pertussis, rubella, varicella, tetanus) and update vaccinations as needed (see text for contraindications during pregnancy)

☐ Policies and paperwork

  • Discuss supplemental travel insurance, travel health insurance, and medical evacuation insurance; research specific coverage information and limitations for pregnancy-related health issues
  • Advise travelers to check airline and cruise line policies for pregnant travelers
  • Provide letter confirming due date and fitness to travel
  • Provide copy of medical records

☐ Prepare for obstetric care at destination

  • Advise traveler to arrange for obstetric care at destination, as needed

☐ Review signs and symptoms requiring immediate care, including

  • Contractions or preterm labor
  • Deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism symptoms, which include unusual swelling of leg with pain in calf or thigh, unusual shortness of breath
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Preeclampsia symptoms (e.g., unusual swelling, severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, vision changes)
  • Rupture of membranes
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration

Contraindications to Travel During Pregnancy

Absolute contraindications are conditions for which the potential harm of travel during pregnancy always outweighs the benefits of travel to the pregnant person or fetus. Relative contraindications are conditions for which travel should be avoided if the potential harm from travel outweighs its benefits ( Box 7-02 ).

Although travel is rarely contraindicated during a normal pregnancy, pregnancies that require frequent antenatal monitoring or close medical supervision might warrant a recommendation that travel be delayed. Educate pregnant travelers that the risk of obstetric complications is greatest in the first and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Box 7-02 Contraindications to travel during pregnancy

Absolute contraindications.

  • Abruptio placentae
  • Active labor
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Premature labor
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Suspected ectopic pregnancy
  • Threatened abortion / vaginal bleeding
  • Toxemia, past or present

RELATIVE CONTRAINDICATIONS

  • Abnormal presentation
  • Fetal growth restriction
  • History of infertility
  • History of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
  • Maternal age <15 or >35 years
  • Multiple gestation
  • Placenta previa or other placental abnormality

Planning for Emergency Care

Obstetric emergencies are often sudden and life-threatening. Advise all pregnant travelers (but especially those in their third trimester or otherwise at high risk) to identify, in advance, international medical facilities at their destination(s) capable of managing complications of pregnancy, delivery (including by caesarean section), and neonatal problems. Counsel against travel to areas where obstetric care might be less than the standard at home.

Many health insurance policies do not cover the cost of medical treatment for pregnancy or neonatal complications that occur overseas. Pregnant people should strongly consider purchasing supplemental travel health insurance to cover pregnancy-related problems and care of the neonate, as needed. In addition, pregnant travelers should consider medical evacuation insurance coverage in case of pregnancy-related complications (see Sec. 6, Ch. 1, Travel Insurance, Travel Health Insurance & Medical Evacuation Insurance ).

Medications

Over-the-counter drugs and nondrug remedies can help a pregnant person travel more comfortably. For instance, pregnant people can safely use a mild bulk laxative for constipation. In addition, several simple available remedies are effective in relieving the symptoms of morning sickness. Nonprescription remedies include ginger, available as a powder that can be mixed with food or drinks (e.g., tea), and as candy (e.g., lollipops). Similarly, pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is effective in reducing symptoms of morning sickness and is available in tablet form, as well as lozenges and lollipops. Antihistamines (e.g., dimenhydrinate, meclizine) often are used in pregnancy for morning sickness and motion sickness and appear to have a good safety record.

Carefully consider appropriate pain management and use of analgesics during pregnancy. Acetaminophen remains the nonopioid analgesic of choice during pregnancy. Although low-dose aspirin has been demonstrated to be relatively safe during pregnancy for certain clinical indications, it should be used cautiously. Aspirin can increase the incidence of abruption, and other anti-inflammatory agents can cause premature closure of the ductus arteriosus.

Various systems are used to classify drugs with respect to their safety in pregnancy . Refer to specific data about the effects of a given drug during pregnancy rather than depending on a classification. Counsel patients to help them make a balanced decision on the use of medications during pregnancy.

Vaccinations

In the best possible scenario, people should be up to date on routine vaccinations before becoming pregnant. The most effective way of protecting the infant against many diseases is to vaccinate the pregnant person. See a summary of current Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)  guidelines for vaccinating pregnant people .

Coronavirus Disease 2019

Pregnant people are more likely to become more severely ill from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) than people who are not pregnant. Having COVID-19 during pregnancy increases a person’s risk of complications that can affect their pregnancy. For these reasons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or who might become pregnant in the future get vaccinated against COVID-19 . As of August 2022, the COVID-19 vaccines authorized or approved for use in the United States are nonreplicating vaccines that do not cause infection in the pregnant person or the fetus. Pregnant people may choose to receive any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized or approved for use in the United States; the ACIP does not state a preference.

COVID-19 vaccination can be safely provided before pregnancy or during any trimester of pregnancy. Available vaccines are highly effective in preventing severe COVID-19, hospitalizations, and deaths; data have shown that the benefits of vaccination during pregnancy, to both the pregnant person and their fetus, outweigh any potential risks. Pregnant people might want to speak with their health care provider before making a decision about receiving COVID-19 vaccine , but a consultation is not required before vaccination. Side effects from COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant people are like those expected among nonpregnant people. Pregnant people can take acetaminophen if they experience fever or other post-vaccination symptoms.

The ACIP recommends that all people who are or who will become pregnant during the influenza season have an annual influenza vaccine using inactivated virus. Influenza vaccines can be administered during any trimester.

The safety of hepatitis A vaccination during pregnancy has not been determined; because hepatitis A vaccine is produced from inactivated virus, though, the risk to the developing fetus is expected to be low. Weigh the risk associated with vaccination against the risk for infection in pregnant people who could be at increased risk for exposure to hepatitis A virus. According to the ACIP, pregnant people traveling internationally are at risk of hepatitis A virus infection; ACIP recommends vaccination during pregnancy for nonimmune international travelers.

Limited data suggest that developing fetuses are not at risk for adverse events resulting from vaccination of pregnant people with hepatitis B vaccine (for details, see Sec. 5, Part 2, Ch. 8, Hepatitis B ). ACIP recommends vaccinating pregnant people identified as being at risk for hepatitis B virus infection during pregnancy; risk factors include >1 sex partner during the previous 6 months, being evaluated or treated for a sexually transmitted infection, recent or current injection drug use, or having a HBsAg-positive sex partner. In November 2021, ACIP recommended vaccination of all adults 19–59 years old.

Japanese Encephalitis

Data are insufficient to make specific recommendations for use of Japanese encephalitis vaccine in pregnant people (see Sec. 5, Part 2, Ch. 13, Japanese Encephalitis ).

Live-Virus Vaccines

Most live-virus vaccines, including live attenuated influenza, measles-mumps-rubella, live typhoid (Ty21a), and varicella, are contraindicated during pregnancy. Postexposure prophylaxis of a nonimmune pregnant person exposed to measles can be provided by administering measles immune globulin (IG) within 6 days of exposure; for varicella exposures, varicella-zoster IG can be given within 10 days. Advise people planning to become pregnant to wait ≥4 weeks after receiving a live-virus vaccine before conceiving.

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever vaccine is the exception to the rule about live-virus vaccines being contraindicated during pregnancy. ACIP considers pregnancy a precaution (i.e., a relative contraindication) for yellow fever vaccine. If travel is unavoidable, and the risk for yellow fever virus exposure outweighs the vaccination risk, it is appropriate to recommend vaccination. If the risks for vaccination outweigh the risks for yellow fever virus exposure, consider providing a medical waiver to the pregnant traveler to fulfill health regulations. Because pregnancy might affect immune responses to vaccination, consider performing serologic testing to document an immune response to yellow fever vaccine. Furthermore, if a person was pregnant (regardless of trimester) when they received their initial dose of yellow fever vaccine, they should receive 1 additional dose before they are next at risk for yellow fever virus exposure (see Sec. 5, Part 2, Ch. 26, Yellow Fever ).

Meningococcal

According to the ACIP , pregnant (and lactating) people should receive quadrivalent meningococcal vaccine, if indicated. Meningococcal vaccine might be indicated for international travelers, depending on risk for infection at the destination (see Sec. 5, Part 1, Ch. 13, Meningococcal Disease ).

No adverse events linked to inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) have been documented among pregnant people or their fetuses. Vaccination of pregnant people should be avoided, however, because of theoretical concerns. IPV can be administered in accordance with the recommended immunization schedule for adults if a pregnant person is at increased risk for infection and requires immediate protection against polio (see Sec. 5, Part 2, Ch. 17, Poliomyelitis ).

Administer rabies postexposure prophylaxis with rabies immune globulin and vaccine after any moderate- or high-risk exposure to rabies; consider preexposure vaccine for travelers who have a substantial risk for exposure (see Sec. 5, Part 2, Ch. 18, Rabies ).

Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis

Tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis vaccine (Tdap) should be given during each pregnancy irrespective of a person’s history of receiving the vaccine previously. To maximize maternal antibody response and passive antibody transfer to the infant, optimal timing for Tdap administration is between 27 and 36 weeks’ gestation (earlier during this time frame is preferred), but it may be given at any time during pregnancy.

Malaria Prophylaxis

Malaria, caused by Plasmodium spp. parasites transmitted by mosquitoes, can be much more serious in pregnant than in nonpregnant people and is associated with high risks of illness and death for both mother and fetus. Malaria in pregnancy can be characterized by heavy parasitemia, severe anemia, and profound hypoglycemia, and can be complicated by cerebral malaria and acute respiratory distress syndrome. Placental sequestration of parasites might result in fetal loss due to abruption, premature labor, or miscarriage. An infant born to an infected mother is apt to be of low birth weight, and, although rare, congenital malaria is possible.

Because no prophylactic regimen provides complete protection, pregnant people should avoid or delay travel to malaria-endemic areas. If travel is unavoidable, the pregnant person should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and use an effective prophylactic regimen.

Chloroquine is the drug of choice for pregnant travelers going to destinations with chloroquine-sensitive Plasmodium spp., and mefloquine is the drug of choice for pregnant travelers going to destinations with chloroquine-resistant Plasmodium spp. Doxycycline is contraindicated because of teratogenic effects on the fetus after the fourth month of pregnancy. Primaquine is contraindicated in pregnancy because the infant cannot be tested for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, putting the infant at risk for hemolytic anemia. Atovaquone-proguanil is not recommended because of lack of available safety data. A list of the available antimalarial drugs and their uses and contraindications during pregnancy can be found in Sec. 5, Part 3, Ch. 16, Malaria .

Travel Health Kits

In addition to the recommended travel health kit items for all travelers (see Sec. 2, Ch. 10, Travel Health Kits ), pregnant travelers should pack antacids, antiemetic drugs, graduated compression stockings, hemorrhoid cream, medication for vaginitis or yeast infection, prenatal vitamins, and prescription medications. Encourage pregnant travelers to consider packing a blood pressure monitor if travel will limit access to a health center where blood pressure monitoring is available.

Respiratory and urinary infections and vaginitis are more likely to occur and to be more severe during pregnancy. Pregnant people who develop travelers’ diarrhea or other gastrointestinal infections might be more vulnerable to dehydration than nonpregnant travelers. Stress the need for strict hand hygiene and food and water precautions (see Sec. 2, Ch. 8, Food & Water Precautions ). Drinking bottled or boiled water is preferable to chemically treated or filtered water. Pregnant people should not consume water purified by iodine-containing compounds because of potential effects on the fetal thyroid (see Sec. 2, Ch. 9, Water Disinfection ).

As mentioned previously, pregnant people are at increased risk for severe COVID-19–associated illness (e.g., requiring invasive ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) and death compared with people who are not pregnant. Underlying medical conditions (e.g., chronic kidney disease, diabetes, obesity) and other factors (e.g., age, occupation) can further increase a pregnant person’s risk for developing severe illness. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at greater risk for preterm birth and other adverse outcomes.

Pregnant people, recently pregnant people, and those who live with or visit them should take steps to protect themselves from getting COVID-19. CDC recommends that people (including those who are pregnant) not travel internationally until they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines . Additional information for international travelers is available at CDC's International Travel website.

Hepatitis A and hepatitis E are both spread by the fecal–oral route (see Sec. 5, Part 2, Ch. 7, Hepatitis A , and Sec. 5, Part 2, Ch. 10, Hepatitis E ). Hepatitis A has been reported to increase the risk for placental abruption and premature delivery. Hepatitis E is more likely to cause severe disease during pregnancy and could result in a case-fatality rate of 15%–30%; when acquired during the third trimester, hepatitis E is also associated with fetal complications and fetal death.

Listeriosis & Toxoplasmosis

Listeriosis and toxoplasmosis (see Sec. 5, Part 3, Ch. 23, Toxoplasmosis ) are foodborne illnesses of particular concern during pregnancy because the infection can cross the placenta and cause spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, or congenital or neonatal infection. Warn pregnant travelers to avoid unpasteurized cheeses and uncooked or undercooked meat products. Risk for fetal infection increases with gestational age, but severity of infection is decreased.

Other Parasitic Infections & Diseases

Parasitic infections and diseases can be a concern, particularly for pregnant people visiting friends and relatives in low- and middle-income countries. In general, intestinal helminths rarely cause enough illness to warrant treatment during pregnancy. Most, in fact, can be addressed safely with symptomatic treatment until the pregnancy is over. On the other hand, protozoan intestinal infections (e.g., Cryptosporidium , Entamoeba histolytica , Giardia ) often do require treatment. These parasites can cause acute gastroenteritis, severe dehydration, and chronic malabsorption resulting in fetal growth restriction. E. histolytica can cause invasive disease, including amebic liver abscess and colitis. Pregnant people also should avoid bathing, swimming, or wading in freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams that can harbor the parasitic worms (schistosomes) that cause schistosomiasis (see Sec. 5, Part 3, Ch. 20, Schistosomiasis ).

Travelers’ Diarrhea

The treatment of choice for travelers’ diarrhea is prompt and vigorous oral hydration; azithromycin or a third-generation cephalosporin may, however, be given to pregnant people if clinically indicated. Avoid use of bismuth subsalicylate because of the potential impact of salicylates on the fetus. In addition, fluoroquinolones are contraindicated in pregnancy due to toxicity to developing cartilage, as noted in experimental animal studies.

Vectorborne Infections

Pregnant people should avoid mosquito bites when traveling in areas where vectorborne diseases are endemic. Preventive measures include use of Environmental Protection Agency–registered insect repellants , protective clothing, and mosquito nets (see Sec. 4, Ch. 6, Mosquitoes, Ticks & Other Arthropods ). For details on yellow fever vaccine and malaria prophylaxis during pregnancy, see above.

Zika virus is spread primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito ( Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus ) but can also be sexually transmitted. The illness associated with Zika can be asymptomatic or mild; some patients report acute onset of conjunctivitis, fever, joint pain, and rash that last for several days to a week after infection.

Birth defects caused by Zika virus infection during pregnancy include brain, eye, and neurodevelopmental abnormalities. Because of the risk for birth defects, CDC recommends pregnant people avoid travel to areas with a Zika outbreak, and, for the duration of the pregnancy, to avoid sex or use condoms with anyone who has traveled to a risk area.

Advise pregnant people considering travel to areas with Zika to carefully assess the risks of Zika infection during pregnancy; provide information about prevention strategies, signs and symptoms, and the limitations of Zika testing. Pregnant people should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission. See additional information, including the most current list of countries and territories where Zika is active . Guidance for pregnant people can be found on the CDC Zika website .

Pregnant people should be aware of specific current environmental issues in their international destinations (e.g., natural disasters, special events or gatherings, travel warnings). More information can be found at the CDC Travelers’ Health website and on the destination pages of the US Department of State website.

Air Quality

Air pollution causes more health problems during pregnancy because ciliary clearance of the bronchial tree is slowed, and mucus is more abundant. For more details on traveling to destinations where air quality is poor, see Sec. 4, Ch. 3, Air Quality & Ionizing Radiation .

Extremes of Temperature

Body temperature regulation is not as efficient during pregnancy, and temperature extremes can create more physiological stress on the pregnant person (see Sec. 4, Ch. 2, Extremes of Temperature ). In addition, increases in core temperature (e.g., heat exhaustion, heat stroke), might harm the fetus. The vasodilatory effect of a hot environment and dehydration might cause fainting. For these reasons, then, encourage pregnant travelers to seek air-conditioned accommodations and restrict their level of activity in hot environments. If heat exposure is unavoidable, the duration should be as short as possible to prevent an increase in core body temperature. Pregnant travelers should take measures to avoid dehydration and hyperthermia.

High Elevation Travel

Pregnant people should avoid activities at high elevation unless they have trained for and are accustomed to such activities; those not acclimated to high elevation might experience breathlessness and palpitations. The common symptoms of acute mountain sickness (insomnia, headache, and nausea) frequently are associated with pregnancy, and it might be difficult to distinguish the cause of the symptoms. Most experts recommend a slower ascent with adequate time for acclimatization. No studies or case reports show harm to a fetus if the mother travels briefly to high elevations during pregnancy; recommend that pregnant people not sleep at elevations >12,000 ft (≈3,600 m) above sea level, if possible. Probably the greatest concern is that high-elevation destinations often are inaccessible and far from medical care (see Sec. 4, Ch. 5, High Elevation Travel & Altitude Illness ).

Advise pregnant people to follow safety instructions for all forms of transport and to wear seat belts, when available, on all forms of transportation, including airplanes, buses, and cars (see Sec. 8, Ch. 5, Road & Traffic Safety ). A diagonal shoulder strap with a lap belt provides the best protection. The shoulder belt should be worn between the breasts with the lap belt low across the upper thighs. When only a lap belt is available, pregnant people should wear it low, between the abdomen and across the upper thighs, not above or across the abdomen.

Most commercial airlines allow pregnant travelers to fly until 36 weeks’ gestation. Some limit international travel earlier in pregnancy, and some require documentation of gestational age. Pregnant travelers should check with the airline for specific requirements or guidance, and should consider the gestational age of the fetus on the dates both of departure and of return.

Most commercial jetliner cabins are pressurized to an equivalent outside air pressure of 6,000–8,000 ft (≈1,800–2,500 m) above sea level; travelers might also experience air pressures in this range during travel by hot air balloon or on noncommercial aircraft. The lower oxygen tension under these conditions likely will not cause fetal problems in a normal pregnancy. People with pregnancies complicated by conditions exacerbated by hypoxia (e.g., preexisting cardiovascular problems, sickle cell disease, severe anemia [hemoglobin <8.0 g/dL], intrauterine fetal growth restriction) could, however, experience adverse effects associated with low arterial oxygen saturation.

Risks of air travel include potential exposure to communicable diseases, immobility, and the common discomforts of flying. Abdominal distention and pedal edema frequently occur. The pregnant traveler might benefit from an upgrade in airline seating and should seek convenient and practical accommodations (e.g., proximity to the lavatory). Pregnant travelers should select aisle seating when possible, and wear loose fitting clothing and comfortable shoes that enable them to move about more easily and frequently during flights.

Some experts report that the risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is 5–10 times greater among pregnant than nonpregnant people, although the absolute risk is low. To help prevent DVT, pregnant travelers should stay hydrated, stretch frequently, walk and perform isometric leg exercises, and wear graduated compression stockings (see Sec. 8, Ch. 3, Deep Vein Thrombosis & Pulmonary Embolism ).

Cosmic radiation during air travel poses little threat to the fetus but might be a consideration for pregnant travelers who fly frequently (see Sec. 9, Ch. 3, . . . perspectives: People Who Fly for a Living—Health Myths & Realities ). Older airport security machines are magnetometers and are not harmful to the fetus. Newer security machines use backscatter x-ray scanners, which emit low levels of radiation. Most experts agree that the risk for complications from radiation exposure from these scanners is extremely low.

Cruise Ship Travel

Most cruise lines restrict travel beyond 24 weeks’ gestation (see Sec. 8, Ch. 6, Cruise Ship Travel ). Cruise lines might require pregnant travelers to carry a physician’s note stating that they are fit to travel, including the estimated date of delivery. Pregnant people should check with the cruise line for specific requirements or guidance. For pregnant travelers planning a cruise, provide advice about gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, motion sickness (see Sec. 8, Ch. 7, Motion Sickness ), and the risk for falls on a moving vessel, as well as the possibility of delayed care while at sea.

The following authors contributed to the previous version of this chapter: Diane F. Morof, I. Dale Carroll

Bibliography

Allotey J, Stallings E, Bonet M, Yap M, Chatterjee S, Kew T, et al.; PregCOV-19 Living Systematic Review Consortium. Clinical manifestations, risk factors, and maternal and perinatal outcomes of coronavirus disease 2019 in pregnancy: living systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2020;370:m3320.

Bisson DL, Newell SD, Laxton C; on behalf of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Antenatal and postnatal analgesia. BJOG. 2018;126(4):114–24.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for vaccinating pregnant women. Atlanta: The Centers; 2014. Available from: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pregnancy/hcp-toolkit/guidelines.html .

Dotters-Katz S, Kuller J, Heine RP. Parasitic infections in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2011;66(8):515–25.

Hezelgrave NL, Whitty CJ, Shennan AH, Chappell LC. Advising on travel during pregnancy. BMJ. 2011;342:d2506.

Irvine MH, Einarson A, Bozzo P. Prophylactic use of antimalarials during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2011;57(11):1279–81.

Magann EF, Chauhan SP, Dahlke JD, McKelvey SS, Watson EM, Morrison JC. Air travel and pregnancy outcomes: a review of pregnancy regulations and outcomes for passengers, flight attendants, and aviators. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2010;65(6):396–402.

Rasmussen SA, Jamieson DJ, Honein MA, Petersen LR. Zika virus and birth defects—reviewing the evidence for causality. N Engl J Med. 2016;374(20):1981–7.

Rasmussen SA, Watson AK, Kennedy ED, Broder KR, Jamieson DJ. Vaccines and pregnancy: past, present, and future. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2014;19(3):161–9.

Roggelin L, Cramer JP. Malaria prevention in the pregnant traveller: a review. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2014;12(3):229–36.

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Travel During Pregnancy

As long as there are no identified complications or concerns with your pregnancy, it is generally safe to travel during your pregnancy. The ideal time to travel during pregnancy is the second trimester .  In most cases, you are past the morning sickness of the first trimester and several weeks from the third stage of pregnancy when you are more easily fatigued .

Is it safe to travel during pregnancy?

Traveling by air is considered safe for women while they are pregnant; however, the following ideas might make your trip safer and more comfortable.

  • Most airlines allow pregnant women to travel through their eighth month. Traveling during the ninth month is usually allowed if there is permission from your health care provider.
  • Most airlines have narrow aisles and smaller bathrooms, which makes it more challenging to walk and more uncomfortable when using the restroom. Because of potential turbulence that could shake the plane, make sure you are holding on to the seatbacks while navigating the aisle.
  • You may want to choose an aisle seat which will allow you to get up more easily to reach the restroom or just to stretch your legs and back.
  • Travel on major airlines with pressurized cabins and avoid smaller private planes. If you must ride in smaller planes, avoid altitudes above 7,000 feet.
  • Although doubtful, the risk of DVT can be further reduced by wearing compression stockings.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the International Air Travel Association recommend that expecting mothers in an uncomplicated pregnancy avoid travel from the 37th week of pregnancy through birth. Avoiding travel from 32 weeks through birth is recommended for women who have complicated pregnancies with risk factors for premature labor, such as mothers carrying multiples.

Risk factors that warrant travel considerations include the following:

  • Severe anemia
  • Cardiac disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Recent hemorrhage
  • Current or recent bone fractures

Traveling by Sea During Pregnancy

Traveling by sea is generally safe for women while they are pregnant; the motion of the boat may accentuate any morning sickness or make you feel nauseous all over again. There are a few considerations to make your trip safer and more comfortable:

  • Check with the cruise line to ensure that there is a health care provider on board in case there are any pregnancy complications .
  • Review the route and port-of-calls to identify if there is access to any medical facilities if needed.
  • Make sure any medications for seasickness are approved for women who are pregnant and that there is no risk to the developing baby.
  • Seasickness bands use acupressure points to help prevent upset stomach and maybe a good alternative to medication.

International Travel During Pregnancy

Traveling overseas has the same considerations that local or domestic travel has, but it also has additional concerns that you need to know about before making an international trip. The information below is provided to help you assess whether an international trip is good for you at this time:

  • It is important to talk with your health care provider before you take a trip internationally to discuss safety factors for you and your baby.
  • Discuss immunizations with your health care provider and carry a copy of your health records with you.
  • With international travel, you may be exposed to a disease that is rare here in the United States but is common in the country you visit.
  • Contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at (800) 311-3435 or visit their website at www.cdc.gov to receive safety information along with immunization facts related to your travels.
  • Diarrhea is a common concern when traveling overseas because you may not be used to the germs and organisms found in the food and water of other countries. This can lead to a problem of dehydration .

Here are some tips to avoid diarrhea and help keep you safe:

  • Drink plenty of bottled water
  • Used canned juices or soft drinks as alternatives
  • Make sure the milk is pasteurized
  • Avoid fresh fruits and vegetables unless they have been cooked or can be peeled (such as an orange or a banana)
  • Make certain that all meat and fish has been cooked completely; if you are unsure, do not eat it

Travel Tips During Pregnancy

Whether you are going by car, bus, or train, it is generally safe to travel while you are pregnant; however, there are some things to consider that could make your trip safer and more comfortable.

  • It is essential to buckle-up every time you ride in a car. Make sure that you use both the lap and shoulder belts for the best protection of you and your baby.
  • Keep the airbags turned on. The safety benefits of the airbag outweigh any potential risk to you and your baby.
  • Buses tend to have narrow aisles and small restrooms. This mode of transportation can be more challenging.  The safest thing is to remain seated while the bus is moving. If you must use the restroom, make sure to hold on to the rail or seats to keep your balance.
  • Trains usually have more room to navigate and walk. The restrooms are usually small. It is essential to hold on to rails or seat backs while the train is moving.
  • Try to limit the amount of time you are cooped up in the car, bus, or train. Keep travel time around five to six hours.
  • Use rest stops to take short walks and to do stretches to keep the blood circulating.
  • Dress comfortably in loose cotton clothing and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Take your favorite pillow.
  • Plan for plenty of rest stops, restroom breaks and stretches.
  • Carry snack foods with you.
  • If you are traveling any distance, make sure to carry a copy of your prenatal records.
  • Enjoy the trip.

Want to Know More?

  • How to Treat Jet Lag Naturally During Pregnancy

Compiled using information from the following sources:

1. Planning Your Pregnancy and Birth Third Ed. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Ch. 5. William’s Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 8.

2. Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Air Travel and Pregnancy (Scientific Impact Paper No. 1), https://www.rcog.org/uk, May 22, 2013.

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Preparing for a newborn can feel like an exhilarating task; on the one hand, there’s a long-anticipated, already much-loved new arrival making an entrance into your life. On the other, getting yourself into a birthing headspace can feel like a marathon. I’ve already lost count of the amount of  stroller reviews , hypno-birthing manuals, crib catalogs, and paint samples I’ve flicked through in my quest for newborn nirvana. 

With that in mind, many couples are now opting to take a break from the organizational overload in the form of a  long-haul babymoon —a pre-birth couples vacation—as a way of spending those last special moments together as a family of two. And in fact, air travel can generally be considered  safe for most expectant mothers , with advice from your doctor recommended. 

“All pregnancies and mums have individual needs and varying circumstances,” says Marie Louise, midwife and author of  The Modern Midwife’s Guide To Pregnancy . “If mums have any health complications or are close to giving birth, travel should be very carefully considered. Otherwise, mums need a break—it’s good to enjoy and relax on your travels.”

Pregnancy can often feel like a long-haul adventure in itself, and whilst the thought of an extensive flight may not jump out at the top of your to-do list, there are ways to make that coveted trip—and any other air travel during pregnancy that comes up—more comfortable.

Below, I’ve curated an essential list for what to pack in your carry-on for air travel during pregnancy, based in part on my own experience traveling to Europe whilst expecting. 

Strategic carry-ons

A great place to start is your carry-on itself, as the right style can help not only to make your essentials more accessible, but the correct product can be re-used as a diaper bag once your pre-baby vacation is a distant happy memory. The key to  choosing the perfect carry-on is not only to be mindful of the airline guidelines set out around dimensions and weight restrictions, but to think from your own perspective about what will be easiest for you to carry. If back issues prevail—a common complaint during pregnancy—a stylish rucksack may be more suitable than a tote. And if you’re looking for post-pregnancy practicality, a duffel can tick that cross-functional box. 

safe air travel during pregnancy

Pregnancy support bands

Glamour takes a back seat with this essential, but your posture and ligaments will thank me later. If you’re flying internationally or just maneuvering your way through a large airport, you may face long walks between terminals, which can place strain on the lower back. Bump support bands are designed to help relieve the pressure that the additional weight of your bump is putting on your back, and therefore can make a sensible addition to your carry-on packing list. 

safe air travel during pregnancy

Anti-nausea pregnancy methods 

Not every foray into the world of parenthood is a smooth one, and unfortunately  nausea and sickness can play a starring role in pregnancy, especially in the early stages. My first 16 weeks of pregnancy were punctuated with frequent trips to the restroom, and with many flights taken during this time, I became accustomed to having to rely on a few tricks to see me through those difficult moments. 

Travel bands can be an excellent way to relieve pregnancy related nausea, and they’ve taken a high-tech turn in recent years. Hypnotherapy podcasts can also be a calming way to reduce feelings of sickness, and are best listened to with noise-canceling headphones and an eye mask . 

safe air travel during pregnancy

Hydrating skincare for expectant mothers 

Pregnancy can present some interesting  skincare dilemmas , with many people experiencing a change at some point across their nine months. Dry patches, oily T-zones, and acne outbreaks are all common complaints. To help skin stay hydrated when flying, there are many pregnancy-safe products out there which can help replenish and restore your skin's natural barrier. La Mer The Mist Facial Spray is a particular favorite of mine—easy to apply, super lightweight, and long-lasting. 

safe air travel during pregnancy

Travel pillows

During pregnancy, ligaments in the hips and back loosen in preparation for birth and this can often cause secondary strain across the top of the shoulders and neck which can be very uncomfortable for expectant mothers. If you’re traveling whilst pregnant, I recommend investing in a travel neck pillow , and packing your pregnancy pillow if you’re flying in a seat with a lie-flat bed. 

safe air travel during pregnancy

Compression socks

“During pregnancy, you are at an increased risk of developing a blood clot,” Louise says. “That’s why compression socks , hydration, and movement—walking, stretching, and circling ankles—is recommended.”

Again, it’s not the most glamorous addition to your carry-on, but this footwear is important nonetheless. Try to stretch your legs every hour or so if possible, with a walk down the aisle or some lower leg exercises. 

safe air travel during pregnancy

While packing a well-stocked carry-on will undoubtedly enhance your flying experience, there are other ways to ensure that you’re prepared for a relaxing trip. Here are my top three tips for flying while pregnant:

Food and beverage choices 

Whilst it’s unlikely you’ll be able to see the full on-board menu in advance, it’s often a good idea to pre-select your meal genre if you’re having  aversions or preferences during your pregnancy. Being able to rule out meat, dairy, or even opt for a lighter option may be preferable for some mothers-to-be. It could be worth packing a couple of extra snacks in your carry-on, just in case. I’ve been stashing ginger tea bags and plenty of dried fruit and nuts ( dried banana chips are a particular craving of mine) to see me through. 

The airport experience

Lounge access can not only be an enjoyable way to kick-off your vacation, it can also be a lifesaver for tired feet. Having access to a clean and comfortable restroom can also often be advantageous, so if your travel tickets don’t include a lounge as standard, it could be worth a  pay-for-access option to give you peace of mind that you’ll be spending time in a calm and restful environment before or in between flights. 

Your travel outfit

While a stylish airport look is always desirable, comfort should definitely reign supreme during this important period, since your body is already coping with so much. Activewear can provide comfort and support during long-haul travel, and there are  plenty of options out there. I look to brands like  Alo Yoga and  Lululemon for pieces that satisfy both the style and comfort stakes. 

safe air travel during pregnancy

safe air travel during pregnancy

Venture into the Sky and Beyond With These 4 Travel Tips for Expecting Mothers

Last Updated on June 12, 2023

Traveling is an activity that promotes broadened horizons, cultural understanding, and memories that last a lifetime. But what if you’re pregnant? Should the adventure stop? The answer is a resounding ‘no.’ During pregnancy, life is filled with preparations, adjustments, and, of course, excitement. Many women wonder whether traveling while carrying their little bundle of joy is safe. The good news is that it’s safe and can add value to your pregnancy experience.

The first trimester is usually marked by morning sickness and fatigue. Therefore, the ideal time to travel during pregnancy, as suggested by health experts, typically falls within the second trimester, when expecting mothers often feel their best. However, this doesn’t mean flying in the first or third trimester is a complete no-go; extra precautions and consultations with healthcare providers are needed.

Traveling while pregnant offers numerous benefits that contribute to a healthy and vibrant pregnancy experience. It allows mothers-to-be to relax, break free from routine, and enjoy their time before welcoming their little ones. It can also help foster a positive mindset, which is essential during this phase. One major value addition of traveling during pregnancy is connecting with different cultures and their pregnancy rituals. Experiencing how different societies celebrate the beauty of motherhood can be an enriching experience. Moreover, it could also provide some inspiration for your birthing traditions. Lastly, traveling during pregnancy can strengthen the bond between couples. Pregnancy is a journey that is not just about the mother but also about the father-to-be. Traveling together can create beautiful memories and bring couples closer, preparing them emotionally for parenthood.

Packing the Right Travel Essentials for Women

Packing appropriately is crucial when you’re pregnant. Carrying the right items can make a significant difference in the comfort and ease of your journey. A checklist of travel essentials for women , particularly pregnant women, is a must. Start with comfortable maternity clothing. Opt for loose, breathable clothes and comfortable walking shoes. Remember maternity undergarments that offer support and comfort.

Health essentials are a priority. Include a basic first-aid kit, prenatal vitamins, prescribed medications, and copies of your medical records or important health information. It’s also good to carry a list of emergency contacts. Ensure you pack healthy snacks, considering your dietary needs and cravings. Hydrating fluids like a refillable water bottle should be included as well. Consider travel comfort items like neck pillows, compression socks, and noise-canceling headphones. These can make your travel experience much smoother and more enjoyable.

Choosing the Right Destination and Accommodation

When selecting a destination, consider the medical facilities available there. Choose a place where quality healthcare is accessible. Additionally, think about the climate and terrain. You don’t want to be caught where the weather conditions might affect your comfort and health. Your accommodation should prioritize comfort and safety. Ensure it’s close to a hospital or a clinic. Check whether they offer amenities like a comfortable bed, access to nutritious food, and a serene environment.

Tips for Flying with Pregnancy

Flying with pregnancy can be a concern for many. Airlines often have different policies for pregnant passengers, so checking them beforehand is essential. Always inform the airline about your pregnancy when booking. Stay hydrated and walk around the cabin when possible to help with circulation. Choose an aisle seat for easy movement. Also, consider investing in travel insurance that covers pregnancy-related issues. Ensure you have the necessary protection for any unforeseen circumstances during your journey.

Embracing Babymoons

A concept that is gaining popularity among couples is the “ babymoon .” It’s a pre-baby getaway dedicated to enjoying the couple’s time together before their life changes with the baby’s arrival. Babymoons are a great way to celebrate pregnancy. They can be a quiet retreat in the countryside, a beach holiday, or even a city break – whatever appeals to your preferences. The focus is on relaxation, connection, and making memories. When planning your babymoon, consider your comfort and convenience. The destination should not involve arduous travel, and the activities should be pregnancy-friendly.

Remember, the purpose of a babymoon isn’t just to travel but to take a break from the hustle of pregnancy preparations, connect with your partner, and enjoy this special phase of life.

Pregnancy is a beautiful journey filled with anticipation, joy, and a fair share of challenges. Embracing travel during this period is possible and can enhance your pregnancy experience, offering you memories that will be treasured long after your child comes into the world.

Motherhood doesn’t need to limit your horizons; it can be an opportunity to expand them. Allow your pregnancy to be a chapter of personal and global exploration, connection, and growth. Traveling while pregnant can empower you, giving you strength and courage as you prepare to bring a new life. It reassures you that pregnancy is not a pause but a stretch of the journey where you continue to enjoy and embrace life with a growing love inside you.

Every expecting mother has a story to tell, and travel can add colorful pages to this chapter of your life. Remember that your strength as a mother begins long before the labor room. It begins with every decision you make to enrich your life and the life of the unborn. So go ahead, pack your bags, board that flight, and let the adventure of motherhood take you places you’ve never been. The world is waiting to celebrate this beautiful journey with you.

The pregnancy journey is transformative, and adding travel into the mix can make it an unforgettable voyage. Remember, the world is your oyster, and your pregnancy is the pearl within. Treasure it, celebrate it, and above all, enjoy the journey!

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Traveling is an activity that promotes broadened horizons, cultural understanding, and memories that last a lifetime. But what if you’re pregnant? Should the adventure stop? The answer is a resounding …

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  2. Air Travel During Pregnancy

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  3. 13 Tips For A Safe Air Travel During Pregnancy

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  4. Flying While Pregnant? Check Out the Policies on 25 Global Airlines

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  5. Traveling During Pregnancy

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  6. Air Travel During Pregnancy: Sugabi Clinic's Guide

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  1. The Importance of Flight Routes Ensuring Safe Air Travel #shorts

  2. Safe Travel Tips During Pregnancy ✈️🤰

  3. Is it safe to travel during pregnancy..?

  4. Air travel during pregnancy// tips to remember #airtravelduringpregnancy

COMMENTS

  1. Air travel during pregnancy: Is it safe?

    Generally, air travel before 36 weeks of pregnancy is considered safe for people who aren't dealing with any pregnancy problems. Still, if you're pregnant, it's a good idea to talk with your health care provider before you fly. Your provider might suggest that you not fly if you have certain pregnancy complications that could get worse because ...

  2. When to stop traveling when pregnant

    Download any apps you use for renting cars and accessing boarding passes before you leave so you can easily reschedule things in the event of a last-minute cancellation. If you're flying during your third trimester, be sure to call the airline to check about the cutoff week for pregnancy travel. A note from your doctor that says you're ...

  3. Travel During Pregnancy

    During a healthy pregnancy, occasional air travel is almost always safe. Most airlines allow you to fly domestically until about 36 weeks of pregnancy. Your ob-gyn can provide proof of your due date if you need it. If you are planning an international flight, the cut-off for traveling may be earlier. Check with your airline.

  4. Air Travel During Pregnancy

    Occasional air travel during pregnancy is generally safe. Recent cohort studies suggest no increase in adverse pregnancy outcomes for occasional air travelers 1 2. Most commercial airlines allow pregnant women to fly up to 36 weeks of gestation. Some restrict pregnant women from international flights earlier in gestation and some require ...

  5. Flying During the First Trimester: Is It Safe?

    Common Myths About Pregnancy and Air Travel . The first trimester is actually an especially low-risk time to travel during pregnancy.Contrary to popular belief, noise vibration, cosmic radiation ...

  6. Pregnant Travelers

    Learn more about traveling during pregnancy and steps you can take to keep you and your baby healthy. Before Travel. Before you book a cruise or air travel, check the airlines or cruise operator policies for pregnant women. ... Bottled, canned, and hot drinks are usually safe to drink. Learn more about how to choose safer food and drinks to ...

  7. Here Are the Rules for Flying When You're Pregnant

    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 ...

  8. Safety of Air Travel During Pregnancy

    Precautions for Air Travel During Pregnancy. Flying is fairly safe while pregnant, even for flight attendants, with some minor adjustments. There are, however, some issues to bear in mind if you are pregnant and considering multiple, frequent, or very long flights: Air travel is extremely dehydrating. You'll need to drink a lot of water while ...

  9. Air travel and pregnancy

    When you are pregnant, the safest time to fly is: Before 37 weeks, if you are carrying one baby. From 37 weeks of pregnancy you could go into labour at any time, which is why many women choose not to fly after this time. Before 32 weeks, if you are carrying an uncomplicated twin pregnancy.

  10. What To Know About Travel During Pregnancy

    1. Stretch your legs. Getting up and moving around during travel can help prevent a condition called deep vein thrombosis from developing. It happens when blood clots form and travel throughout ...

  11. 5 Tips to Stay Safe When Flying While Pregnant

    If you become dehydrated, it can reduce blood flow to the uterus. Exercise aloft. Your doctor may suggest you walk every half hour or so during a smooth flight. It will help keep blood flowing. In ...

  12. Flying while pregnant? Restrictions & other policies

    The majority of the time, though, flying is perfectly safe during pregnancy, providing that you follow the guidelines of the airline and your healthcare provider.Read on to learn more about traveling before, during and after pregnancy: What to expect in every trimester of pregnancy; 4 tips for planning travel while planning a pregnancy ...

  13. Flying While Pregnant: Tips for a Safe Trip

    High-risk pregnancy: If your pregnancy has problems like preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, placenta previa or you have a history of preterm labor. Late pregnancy: Many airlines limit air travel during the third trimester, usually after 36 weeks. "Some international airlines may limit even sooner," Dr. Soll said.

  14. What Are Global Airlines' Policies on Flying While Pregnant?

    In the absence of obstetric or medical complications, occasional air travel during pregnancy is generally safe, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). Like other travelers, pregnant women should use seat belts while seated.

  15. Pregnant Travelers

    Swimming and snorkeling during pregnancy generally are safe, but falls during waterskiing have been reported to inject water into the birth canal. ... Air travel and pregnancy outcomes: a review of pregnancy regulations and outcomes for passengers, flight attendants, and aviators. Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2010;65(6):396-402. Rasmussen SA ...

  16. Travel During Pregnancy

    The ideal time to travel during pregnancy is the second trimester. In most cases, you are past the morning sickness of the first trimester and several weeks from the third stage of pregnancy when you are more easily fatigued. Is it safe to travel during pregnancy? Traveling by air is considered safe for women while they are pregnant; however ...

  17. Pregnancy Travel: Traveling Safely by Air, Car, and Cruise Ship

    Pregnancy Travel: Better Safe Than Sorry. ... "In general, air travel is OK during the entire pregnancy," says Kenneth Johnson, DO, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Nova ...

  18. Pregnancy Travel Tips: Is It Safe to Travel While Pregnant?

    Use these tried-and-true tactics to make pregnancy travel easier and less stressful. Can you travel while pregnant? Before the COVID-19 pandemic, travel was rarely restricted during pregnancy unless a mom-to-be was nearing her due date, had certain pregnancy complications, or was planning to visit an area with a Zika or malaria risk.

  19. Air Travel During Pregnancy (for Parents)

    It's OK to travel by air during pregnancy unless your due date is near, or your doctor says that you (or your baby) have a medical condition and it's safer for you to stay close to home. Most healthy pregnant women can fly up to 4 weeks before their due date. After that, it's best not to travel far in case you deliver.

  20. Travelling while pregnant

    If you have any medical or pregnancy-related complications, discuss with your health care professional whether air travel is safe for you. Most airlines restrict travel in late pregnancy or may require a written confirmation from a physician. Check this with the airline before booking your flight. During long flights, you may be at higher risk ...

  21. How to Make Air Travel During Pregnancy More Comfortable

    Compression socks. "During pregnancy, you are at an increased risk of developing a blood clot," Louise says. "That's why compression socks, hydration, and movement—walking, stretching ...

  22. When can I travel by aeroplane during my pregnancy?

    Babies: air travel during the first two days after birth is not permitted and is inadvisable for the baby's first week of life. This is because the lungs are not mature enough to maintain oxygen ...

  23. Venture into the Sky and Beyond With These 4 Travel Tips for ...

    Stay hydrated and walk around the cabin when possible to help with circulation. Choose an aisle seat for easy movement. Also, consider investing in travel insurance that covers pregnancy-related ...