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Should You Go At All? If So, When?

Ask your doctor.

Seriously. From the airlines' point of view, the closer you are to term, the more likely that you will either go into labor or have a serious complication that will require some sort of emergency assistance. Things to be especially concerned about include hypertension, a history of miscarriages, diabetes or bleeding.

Although it will cost you, a good souce is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and their guide, Education Pamphlet AP055—Travel During Pregnancy.

If you will be traveling in an area or by a method that suggests you might have diarrhea, discuss with your doctor the best way to handle it. Pepto-Bismol, a common relief, contains aspirin and bismuth, which pregnant women are generally advised to avoid. Water purified with iodine is also not safe for most pregnant travelers, as iodine can cross the placenta barrier. Indeed, look at any medication, prescription or not, with caution. Several months along with child at 40,000 feet is a bad time to learn about drug interactions. Check with your health care provider.

If you will be flying in a non-pressurized plane, and/or at high altitudes, or vacationing at altitude, be certain to discuss this with your doctor. Oxygen levels in your blood can decrease at altitude and affect the fetus.

When Should You Go?

You should check with the airline you're flying, as restrictions and conditions vary. Most airlines begin imposing some form of travel restriction around the 34th – 38th week.

Depending on circumstances, at some point an airline may choose not to board you, require a letter from your physician OK'ing the travel and/or require some form of waiver of liability from you before boarding.

Policies will differ depending on whether or not the flight is domestic, international, long or short. Our experience with flying pregnant is that we have not gotten accurate information from travel agents. Maybe you'll find a better agent to help you than we ever did.

If you need to present some form of letter from your doctor, find out when that letter must be dated. In some situations, I have seen the airline require the letter be dated within 72 hours of the flight. The letter should certainly include specific information about your due date, to avoid an unnecessary argument with a gate clerk over how pregnant you really are.

One Mom's Opinion

For me, flying in the second trimester (14-28 weeks) seemed easiest. I was over my morning sickness, past some of the scary times when miscarriages often can happen and I was not so big and round that sitting on a plane and moving around a strange city were really uncomfortable. I had to fly alone once more than seven months along and it was very uncomfortable for me, especially when the plane got delayed and I had to carry my own carry on luggage around the transit lounge. Sometimes pregnant ladies have a problem from all that weight pressing on our insides, and carrying the extra weight up and down stairs was very unpleasant. That was a long day.

Keep in mind you'll likely be flying home as well; check to see if any additional requirements will exist when boarding the flight back home (as you'll be in another country with perhaps different rules, as well as being a few weeks closer to delivery than when you left home, perhaps crossing a date-certain threshhold you didn't have to worry about at first). It would not be good to be allowed to fly from New York to Paris and then two weeks later have the airline refuse to board you departing Paris.

Airline Policy

I have looked at the airlines' web sites and have not found anything useful there on policies regarding flying while pregnant. You can find an on-line listing of airlines' policies on flying while pregnant. It is a good place to start your research.