Flying While Pregnant: Expert Tips

We asked pregnancy experts what the must-know, essential tips for women who plan to fly while pregnant are. Our panel includes leading physicians, authors, travelers, and moms with first-hand experience on flying pregnant.

Should you fly?


“In the first trimester you may be too nauseated to enjoy your time away. In the third trimester you may be too uncomfortable and not feel up for doing much of anything. Plus, there are flight restrictions for flying later in a pregnancy which can require a doctor’s note to board the plane.” – Colleen Lanin,


“Try contacting your primary care physician back home before reaching out to local help; your own doctor(s) know you better, and are just as reachable even with time zone differences. Of course, if it’s an emergency, seek emergency help. But if you are not sure if you need to seek care, calling your provider first can be very helpful – both in case it might be serious, and also if it doesn’t sound serious and you might save yourself some aggravation.” – Marjorie Greenfield, MD, author, The Working Woman’s Pregnancy Book


“It’s best to travel in your second trimester (between weeks 14 and 28), when risks for pregnancy emergencies – like miscarriage in the first trimester or preterm labor in the third trimester – are lowest. Also, after 28 weeks it may be difficult to stay seated for a long time. After weeks 34 and 35, stay close to home so that you are close to your doctor and hospital.” – Hansa Bhargava, MD, Pediatrics Medical Editor,


“First and foremost, don’t be afraid to travel. These are some of the last times you will be able to take a truly stress-free trip and it’s important not to fear the experience. The memories of traveling with a baby in your belly will stay in your mind forever and prompt you to give birth to a true traveler.” – Holly Rosen Fink, The Culture Mom


“Let your doctor or midwife know your travel plans and they can do a risk assessment. Distant travel in the last month of pregnancy risks labor while you are gone and should be avoided if possible. Wear your seat belt while seated.” – Janette Strathy, MD, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists


“If you’re healthy and your doctor allows you to travel, you can fly until week 36 of pregnancy, or one month prior to your due date, according to the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). Generally, the second trimester is the safest.” – Hope Ricciotti, MD, Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston


Choosing a flight


“While I generally love direct flights, if you are flying long distance, two shorter flights may be better. That way, you can get out, stretch, eat a nice meal and recharge.” – Jodi Grundig,


“Book a refundable trip only because it is impossible to know how you are going to feel during every phase of a pregnancy. You might assume that the morning sickness will dissipate by the time the second trimester rolls around, only to find yourself even greener with sickness. Or, complications may arise unexpectedly that keep you grounded.”  – Colleen Lanin


“Check to see what your health insurance covers before traveling, since not every plan will cover all expenses if you have an emergency when you go out of state or even to a local hospital that is outside of your health plan.”  – Hope Ricciotti, MD


“Consider the “what ifs.” What if you go into labor early, on a plane? Will you be near a hospital or 911 services? If not, perhaps you can travel earlier or delay your trip.” – Gwenn O’Keefe, MD,


Before you fly


“Bring a small lumbar pillow for comfort. Travel times vary and the worst experience would be getting delayed and being very uncomfortable. That can cause a lot of stress. ” – Tonia Sanders,


“Make sure to let the airline know you are pregnant if you’re not showing. The airline can make the flight more bearable by letting pregnant women board earlier and/or be seated at an exit row to make getting up during the flight easier. ” – Shannon Guyton, Site Editor,


“Make sure you don’t sit in the exit row and get a seat that reclines, with plenty of leg room. Sit in the aisle seat in case you need to make several trips to the bathroom.” – Holly Rosen


“Pack appropriately- Make sure all items that you need direct access to such as prenatal vitamins and important documents, are within reach during the flight.” – Shannon Guyton


“Try for an aisle seat. You’ll be able to stretch out more, and it’s better for getting up and down.'” – Jodi Grundig


Keep moving onboard


“Wear your seat belt over your lower lap/upper thighs, on the hipbones below your belly. Keep it on as much as possible.” – Hansa Bhargava, MD


“Getting up and moving around frequently will help you stay comfortable and help ward off potentially dangerous conditions like deep vein thrombosis.” – Lisa Mitchell,


“Get up to walk around at least once per hour to keep up your circulation and guard against blood clots. Request an aisle seat so it’s easier to get in and out of your seat, and do you don’t have to bother anyone if they’re sleeping.” – Liz Borod Wright,


“When I was 5 months pregnant with my first we took a vacation to Hawaii. It was about a 12 hour flight – I remember drinking plenty of fluids and taking short walks up and down the aisle. That really helped lesson the water retention.” – Maghan Keller,


Drink plenty of water


“Staying hydrated means drinking lots and lots of water while at the airport and on the airplane. Of course, that is going to mean lots of trips to the bathroom, but that’s okay, because the second key component to safe, comfortable air travel is movement.” – Lisa Mitchell


“Bring at least one large bottle of water; don’t rely on the airline’s beverage service.” – Liz Borod Wright


“Drinking lots of water means having to get up and use the washroom – thus stretching your legs and keeping the blood flowing.” – Corinne McDermott,


Eating on board


“Carry snacks with you – things like granola bars and snack mix generally travel well. While the airlines may have some food available for purchase, there is no guarantee it’ll be healthy.” – Jodi Grundig


“Avoid gas producing foods before your flight.” – Hansa Bhargava, MD


“Avoid salty snacks.” – Corinne McDermott


“Minimize your salt intake, and not only on the flight; traveling means many restaurant meals which are loaded with sodium.” – Marjorie Greenfield, MD


Make yourself comfortable


“Maternity compression pantyhose are not as uncomfortable as they sound, and are great at keeping the blood flowing and reducing swelling as well. Stretch in your seat; elevate your feet as best you can on your carry-on luggage.” – Corinne McDermott


“You may be more sensitive to the motion of the plane, as many pregnant women are more sensitive to just about everything! To prevent nausea, try wearing Sea-Bands, which are wristbands with a plastic bead that puts pressure on your P6 acupuncture pressure point. You can put these on after you feel ill too.” – Liz Borod Wright


“If you are prone to nausea, wearing the sea bands around the wrist will help out. There is only pressure applied and no medicine to take so they can be used at any state of pregnancy.” – Tonia Sanders


“Always “listen to your body” and be sure to build some wiggle room in your travel plans in case you need to make accommodations due to how you’re feeling.” – Marjorie Greenfield, MD


“Pregnant women can be susceptible to colds. By having the vent at their seat directing air down directly in front of them, it can keep fresh air circulating away from them and hopefully decrease exposure to all the viruses their fellow traveling companions may have brought with them. Bring hand sanitzer. Bring a good book that will make the flight pass quickly!” – Janette Strathy, MD

Additional Resources:
Air travel and pregnancy travel tips – experts on many topics relating to raising a child or toddler, to pre and post-natal pregnancies


(Featured image: snype451)

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