Is Flying During Pregnancy Safe?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

In general, flying during pregnancy is considered safe. This, however, usually applies to women who are in good health and experiencing normal, uncomplicated pregnancies. Those who are at increased risk of miscarriage or preterm labor may be advised against flying. Likewise, a woman who has a health condition such as sickle cell anemia or a complication that affects the placenta may be asked to delay air travel. Additionally, many doctors restrict air travel for their patients once they’ve reached 36 weeks of pregnancy, and airlines may have their own restrictions as well.

Women who are at risk of miscarriage may be advised against flying.
Women who are at risk of miscarriage may be advised against flying.

In most cases, flying during pregnancy is safe. Many women, however, worry about the potential for miscarriage or preterm labor while traveling by air. While there has been at least one study that demonstrated a slightly increased risk of miscarriage for flight attendants, the average pregnant woman is unlikely to fly as much as a flight attendant would or spend as much time on her feet during the flight. As such, most experts the believe the risk to be minute, if it exists at all.

Flying after 28 weeks should be done only with a doctor's approval.
Flying after 28 weeks should be done only with a doctor's approval.

Radiation exposure is another potential risk that may concern some expectant mothers. While there may be a small increase in radiation exposure while flying at high altitudes, the average traveler, and her unborn child, are unlikely to suffer any ill effects from it. An individual who travels for extended periods of time, such as those who work in air travel, might be at increased risk, however.

Experts often recommend that a woman schedule flying during pregnancy for between week 14 and week 28 of pregnancy. These are the middle weeks of pregnancy and represent a time at which a woman’s risk of miscarriage and preterm labor are at their lowest. This is also the period of time when a woman is usually feeling her best, which may make air travel more comfortable. For example, a woman at this stage of pregnancy is often past the morning sickness and fatigue typical of early pregnancy.

As a woman reaches advanced pregnancy, her doctor may restrict her air travel. In many cases, a doctor may advise against air travel from the 36 week of pregnancy until delivery. Additionally, many airlines will not allow flight after this time because they are concerned that the pregnant woman may go into labor during the flight.

There are some health conditions that may make a doctor reluctant to have a woman fly during pregnancy. For example, if she is at increased risk of preterm labor or miscarriage, he may advise against flying during pregnancy. Women with disorders that prevent their blood from clotting normally or sickle cell anemia may also need to wait for air travel. Additionally, if the placenta isn’t functioning optimally, a doctor may advise against air travel as well.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


These are all good reasons not to fly very late into a pregnancy. Really, would you want to go into labor on an aircraft? There's hardly room to drink a soda comfortably, much less have a baby!

Here's a weird thought, if a baby is born during a flight, what city as the place of birth appears on his birth certificate? The origin city? The destination city? Do they put the tail number of the aircraft on the birth certificate? It's just an odd bit of musing.

Flying during pregnancy is probably about as safe as doing anything else while pregnant, if the woman is healthy and is not having any complications.

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