New guidelines for flying during pregnancy now recommend it's safe for pregnant women to fly:
- before and up to 37 weeks - that means while you're 36 weeks but not when you're 37 weeks
- before 32 weeks if you're expecting twins and there are no pregnancy complications
The cut-off at 37 weeks is because you're more likely to go into labour beyond this point. You'll find most airlines won't allow you to fly at this late stage in pregnancy and it may be tricky to get travel insurance.
The advice comes from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), which has issued a new leaflet explaining the flying recommendations. It also suggests that during any flight over 4 hours, you should get up and walk around the plane, to reduce the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
Do you need a form to fly?
Yes - after you're 28 weeks pregnant or more. You'll need your GP or midwife to either complete an Fit to Fly form or write a letter confirming that it's safe for you to fly.
Do all airlines have the same restrictions?
No. Airlines can vary by a week or so, which means you'll need to do your homework before booking your flight. Current airline guidelines are that you can fly after 28 weeks with a Fit To Fly form signed by your midwife or doctor as follows:
- Up to 36 weeks - EasyJet
- Up to 37 weeks - Ryanair, British Airways, Virgin
Are there any side effects of flying when pregnant?
Yes, side effects of flying include:
- swelling of legs due to fluid retention
- nasal and ear congestion
- motion sickness
- Long-haul flights of 4 hours or more can also increase the risk of developing Deep Vein Thrombosis, when a blood clot forms in your leg or pelvis, and pregnant women are more susceptible to this