Is the tropical sun calling out to you and your pregnant belly? Do not panic! Little Guest (collection of luxury family hotels) has compiled a list of various airline requirements for all future globe-trotting mothers and some « mum-to-be routines » to be followed before boarding and during the flight, depending on your pregnancy month.
First, let’s make it clear: air travel is likely to be safe for healthy pregnant women for the first 7 months. Although it is not advisable to travel by plane during the first trimester of pregnancy, note that you may suffer from the pains typical of the first few months of pregnancy under zero gravity. Travel becomes much more comfortable from the second trimester onwards. This period is best for long-haul flights. On the other hand, flying during the last trimester of pregnancy, especially during the last month, may pose some risks and is not recommended.
British researchers from the RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of the United Kingdom) stated in a report published in January 2015 that travelling by air does not pose any risk to the health of the foetus or the expectant mother. Experts explain that variations in atmospheric pressure would not affect the mother and child during any month of the pregnancy. Neither would the aircraft cause miscarriage, premature delivery or water break. Air travel is actually the safest means of transport for pregnant women!
Consult your gynaecologist or midwife before flying, to ensure that there are no safety concerns with you flying. These specialists will review the situation with you as it relates to your particular circumstances. In case of high risk or pathological pregnancy – history of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy – have an ultrasound scan done before departure to make sure everything is fine. Use the opportunity to request for a medical certificate. While flying, remember to drink plenty of water and move about as much as possible. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, do not eat too much salt and stay zen until arrival. Remember that contrary to what you might think, planes are safe for babies.
Flying can increase the risk of varicose veins and phlebitisis. Also known as venous thrombosis, phlebitis is brought on by prolonged sitting. Seat compression can cause venous stasis in the lower limbs that can induce a pre-thrombotic state. To ensure good blood circulation, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of the United Kingdom recommend to put on compression stockings before departure and state that the wearing of suitable stockings is sufficient to reduce the risk of thrombosis. At the time of booking, choose an aisle seat to allow you to move more easily. It is important to move as much as possible during the flight.
According to RCOG researchers, security gates are considered safe for everyone, including pregnant women and their fetuses. If you are concerned about X-rays entering your body and radiating your baby, you need to first stop watching science fiction movies as the detectors do not use X-rays but use electromagnetic fields, they emit to measure fluctuations in the presence of metals. Be aware that the amounts of radiation are minimal or negligible, and that low-level exposure is safe.
The great pregnancy adventure begins! There is nothing to show at the moment that a little fellow is growing inside you, except perhaps that your breasts are fuller, but who can testify to that? There are no obvious physical changes or actual physiological disruptions at this stage, so you can travel comfortably without posing any risk to your child’s development.
The embryo begins its journey to the endometrium (the mucous membrane that covers the uterus) from the fourth week of life and the placenta gradually sets in place. Pregnancy hormones multiply, doubling almost every 24 hours. By the fifth week, the embryo begins developing at a high rate, with mothers often feeling more tired. Mood swings are now part of your daily routine. Flying is not discouraged, but keep in mind that flying at this stage of pregnancy is not always pleasant and sometimes even stressful. Symptoms of the first few weeks: nausea, heavy fatigue, cravings, bloating and heartburn can increase tenfold during the flight. Here are some tips to relieve your aches and pains: split meals, hydrate, add pieces of ginger root or lemon to your drinks and wear an anti-nausea bracelet.
There are no problems with flying during this pregnancy phase, however, the third month is often synonymous with nausea and vomiting that can increase with altitude and make flying uncomfortable. Your uterus, which is now the size of a grapefruit, presses on your bladder, increasing the urge to urinate. Consider taking a seat in the aisle to provide easy access to the toilet in case of pressing need. Note that while the risk of miscarriage is higher during the first three months of pregnancy, the plane has no influence on this.
At this point in your pregnancy, you are increasingly less tired, you no longer feel nauseous and vomiting is already a distant memory. Your belly gets rounded, your nails and hair glow, your complexion looks good, your face lights up: you feel like you’re growing wings. This is the perfect time to fly! Make sure you drink plenty of water, stretch your legs regularly (about every hour) and sit comfortably in your seat to enjoy the flight.
You are now entering your fifth month of pregnancy and your fetus is constantly moving! « I turn, I swirl, I fly and twirl. Exhausted, I fall asleep. I wake up. A life molecule in a prime magma. The warmth, the softness stimulate me. I swim, I move, I turn around. » Fortunately for Mom, these grand gestures are tiring, causing the fetus to rest for nearly 20 hours a day. The little downside is that their sleep hours may not be in line with yours or flight hours. The fetus can start moving and kicking at any time. Consider reserving a seat with legroom. Rest at the slightest opportunity for calm, sleep is essential.
Pregnant women can travel by air during the sixth month of pregnancy without restriction. The body is adapting increasingly to the fetus, while the belly is becoming even more rounded. It is common for expectant mothers to be prone to hot flashes and to sweat unusually from the 23rd week onwards. Remember to wear light and loose clothing in which you are comfortable. Your comfort is more important now than ever because once the plane has left the tarmac there is no question of turning around. During the flight, make regular round trips between the front and rear of the aircraft to stretch your legs and improve blood circulation.
Your baby has grown considerably, its organs and brain continue to develop, it is becoming more sensitive to what is happening outside and is now able to hear the world around it. However, this does not mean that expectant mothers cannot fly. The trip has no impact on the baby. As a precautionary measure, take out insurance to cover health and repatriation costs before booking tickets. Like all passengers, be sure to fasten your seat belt under your abdomen. Place a cushion between your rounded stomach and the lower belt strap to avoid direct pressure on the uterus. Sit comfortably in your seat, with your legs stretched out to move your ankles and toes. Also try to walk as regularly as possible during the flight.
You are in your eighth month of pregnancy and are starting to think about giving birth as your baby is ready to point the tip of his nose. If you wish to fly at this stage of pregnancy, seek the advice of your doctor or midwife to make sure you are able to make the trip. If it is not recommended to fly at the end of pregnancy it is not due to an increased risk of water ruptures at altitude but because it is possible that the delivery may be triggered prematurely. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises against air travel for pregnant women after the 36th week of pregnancy or four weeks before the expected birth date prévue. Since labour can begin at any time during the last few weeks, it is recommended to avoid traveling during this period. It is also important to know in advance the flight conditions of the company you are traveling with.
Each company has its own policy on travel and pregnancy, although the majority do not encourage women to fly in the third quarter and generally refuse flights beyond the 36th week. Some companies invite expectant mothers to submit a certificate from the doctor or midwife indicating the expected date of the birth.
To take an Air France flight, you do not need a medical certificate. While the company has no restrictions, however, it recommends consulting a doctor or midwife before taking a flight. The French company also advises against travel from the 37th week of pregnancy onwards. See all the conditions to travel when you’re pregnant.
Until which week can I fly? 37th week
Do I have to bring a medical certificate? It is recommended to provide a doctor’s certificate
With British Airways you can not travel after the end of the 36th week if you are expecting a baby and the end of the 32nd week if you expect twins. You must also bring a medical certificate if complications are expected. See all the conditions to travel when you’re pregnant.
Until which week can I fly? 36th week
Do I have to bring a medical certificate? Yes, from the 28th week onwards
With Brussels Airlines, you can travel until the 36th week of pregnancy as long as you present a medical certificate stating that the pregnancy does not present any complications, mentioning the expected date of delivery and indicating that the flight is suitable for the patient. In case of risk, an authorization from a qualified doctor is required. See all the conditions to travel when you’re pregnant.
Until which week can I fly? 36th week
Do I have to bring a medical certificate? Yes
Emirates applies similar modalities. You can travel until the 36th week of pregnancy in the case of a single pregnancy and the end of the 32nd week for twins. After the 29th week of pregnancy, a medical certificate or letter signed by the doctor is required indicating that the pregnancy is simple or multiple, that it is uncomplicated, that the future mother is in good health and that she is suitable the flight. The company reserves the right to refuse access if in doubt as to the pregnant woman’s ability to make the trip. See all the conditions to travel when you’re pregnant.
Until which week can I fly? 36th week (32nd week for twins)
Do I have to bring a medical certificate? Yes, after the 29th week
Easy Jet authorizes travel until the end of the 35th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 32nd week for twins. Pregnant women are allowed to travel with a baby on their knees. See all the conditions to travel when you’re pregnant.
Until which week can I fly? 35th week (32nd week for twins)
Do I have to bring a medical certificate? No
KLM requires written authorization from the physician for women who have experienced complications during their pregnancy. If you have more than one baby, please consult your doctor first. The flight is not recommended for pregnant women beyond 36 weeks. See all the conditions to travel when you’re pregnant.
Until which week can I fly? 36th week
Do I have to bring a medical certificate? Only in case of complications
Pregnant women can fly with Lufthansa without gynaecological authorization until the end of the 36th week as long as the pregnancy is proceeding without complications. It is nevertheless recommended to provide a certificate from the 28th week of pregnancy (you can download it here, Lufthansa flight certificate). In the case of multiple pregnancies, access to the plane is possible until the 28th week. The company also recommends that future mothers wear compression stockings for the duration of the flight. The company stresses that it is not responsible for a rebuttal to enter a foreign territory because of pregnancy and advises pregnant women to learn about the legal provisions of the destination country. See all the conditions to travel when you’re pregnant.
Until which week can I fly? 36th week (28th week in case of twins)
Do I have to bring a medical certificate? Yes, from the 28th week
With Ryanair, it is necessary to submit a letter of proficiency (the medical confirmation template can be downloaded here in pdf format) completed by a doctor or midwife at the boarding gate. For single pregnancies, Ryanair records the trip at the end of the 36th week and the end of the 32nd week if you expect twins or triplets. See all the conditions to travel when you’re pregnant.
Until which week can I fly? 36th week (32nd week for multiple pregnancies)
Do I have to bring a medical certificate? Yes, a flight aptitude letter is required
With breathtaking views of Lake Geneva and the surrounding mountains, the prestigious Hôtel Royal Evian welcomes future mothers to its 1,200 m2 spa. The establishment, which recently won the « palace » award, has specifically designed an exclusive, tailor-made wellness program for young mothers and their babies aged 4 to 10 months. Mom learns how to massage her baby in the morning, and gets pampered herself in the afternoon by experienced masseuses.
Asia Gardens, a 5-star hotel, is only 10 minutes from the most beautiful beaches of Alicante. Surrounded by lagoon pools and Asian-inspired gardens, this family destination is renowned in northern Spain for its Thai-inspired spa. It provides free yoga, Pilates, tai chi or chi-kung lessons to parents, as well as traditional afternoon massages and tea tastings.
Located 800 meters from the Eiffel Tower and the banks of the Seine, the magnificent Shangri-La Paris hotel offers future mothers (from the second trimester of pregnancy or after birth) exceptional prenatal care. On the agenda: 2 hours and 30 minutes of relaxation in one of the sumptuous treatment rooms of the CHI spa with a relaxing back massage and foot draining. And why not conclude this wellness break with a luxurious manicure and pedicure? We are, after all, here to have fun!
Travelling by plane is not your cup of tea? You prefer to travel a little slower but still have the opportunity to observe the landscape? No problem, at Little Guest we have thought about everything. Have a look at our article on train travel during pregnancy! Spoiler alert: the train is pregnant woman’s best friend!
Audrey, 24 years old, journalist, from Brussels, Belgium