Flying during pregnancy

Published
25.2.2015 - 07:00
Flying doesn’t always feel comfortable when pregnant, but it isn’t unsafe for an expectant mother who is in good health and has a normal pregnancy.

Most airlines allow expectant mothers to fly up to the 36th week. After week 28, a pregnant mother is required to obtain a doctor’s letter that states that her pregnancy is proceeding normally. The same letter is valid for the remainder of the pregnancy.

At times passengers are asked to send the letter to the airline before the flight. You should always check your airline’s rules well in advance. For example, Finnair allows pregnant mothers to fly until the end of the 38th week on domestic and Scandinavian flights if their pregnancy is normal.

Healthy newborn babies can already fly at two days of age with all airlines.

In case of certain pregnancy-related complications, such as anaemia, pre-eclampsia, and hemorrhage, the safety of flying should be discussed with your doctor.

Just a few simple instructions

Sitting still for a long time can cause accumulation of fluid and swelling in the legs and feet. You should drink plenty of water during the flight and wear comfortable shoes that are roomy enough to accommodate any swelling.

A growing abdomen burdens the circulation, which makes it particularly important to get up and move around during the flight. For longer flights, flight socks would be a good idea. If you choose a seat next to the aisle, it will be easier to stretch your legs and get up.

There’s no need to worry about any cosmic radiation, because for those travelling only occasionally even a longer flight won’t result in a dose of radiation that could harm the mother or the baby.

The low air pressure in the cabin doesn’t cause problems for a normal pregnancy even though it decreases the blood oxygen content a little.

Upon arriving, remember to pay attention to proper hand washing and food hygiene. Follow your midwife’s advice on foods to avoid and also steer clear of raw fruits and vegetables because of the risk of toxoplasmosis.

A unique birthplace

It is extremely rare to give birth during a flight, but in November 2011 a Swedish mother had a baby girl during Finnair’s scheduled flight from Bangkok to Helsinki.

Two doctors and two nurses from amongst the passengers helped the baby arrive safely at an altitude of 11 km over Kazakhstan. MedLink phone support was also on hand. Aeroplanes are usually in contact with doctors through a medical phone service around the clock.

In Helsinki, the new mother and daughter were met by an ambulance, which took them for a checkup at a hospital, although they were both doing great.

Wishing you and your bump a nice, relaxing trip!

Travelling with children