With Australia being the vast, expansive country that it is, chances are you may have to fly from one state to another at some stage during your pregnancy. Then there’s those overseas holidays we love to take that are often booked months in advance, before we even know we are pregnant. Flying when you are pregnant is perfectly safe in most cases, although it can be a little uncomfortable in the later stages.
Each of Australia’s four major airlines have rules on flying, as do the international airlines, so always be sure to check directly with them before you go. Here are some top tips to flying during pregnancy.
Pretty sure I didn’t look or feel this happy when flying. Image: Babycenter.com
Check the airlines requirements
Australia’s four major airlines, Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin and Tiger Air, have the same requirements for flying when pregnant.
On flights of under four hours, you can travel up to the end of the 40th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 36th week for multiple pregnancies. On flights over four hours, you can travel up to the end of the 36th week for single pregnancies and the end of the 32nd week if you are carrying twins (or more!)
Each airline only requires a letter or medical certificate from your doctor after the 28-week mark, although it must be dated no more than 10 days before you fly. You will need medical clearance if you are having complications with your pregnancy, regardless of how far along you are. For more information, see the individual airline’s policy on flying, as listed below.
• Qantas – read more here. • Jetstar – read more here.
• Virgin – read more here. • Tiger Air – read more here.
International airlines may have different requirements, so check the policy before you fly.
The Australian airlines are pretty much in synch when it comes to flying rules.
What to wear
Compression socks are a great idea for reducing the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during the flight. DVT is a blood clot of the legs, and can be serious if the clot is large enough. Pregnant women are generally more at risk of developing DVT. The socks are expensive, at between $30 - $50 per pair, but can reduce the risks, and give you piece of mind during the flight. Wear loose, comfortable clothing during the flight and avoid getting too hot.
Compression socks. You might want to wear some pants, too.
Before the flight
Take your pregnancy records with you wherever you travel, just in case something does go wrong and you need to check into hospital. If you have any concerns at all, speak to your GP, obstetrician or midwife, who can answer any questions and hopefully alleviate any issues you have.
During the flight
If you are worried, let an airline attendant know you are pregnant (if it’s not obvious). They may offer extra water or a pillow to make you more comfortable, or in my case, extra chocolate, ‘just because I need it’.
It’s a good idea to move around and stretch your legs as much as possible during the flight, as this can also lessen the risk of DVT. You can read more about DVT, including symptoms, here. If you can, choose an aisle seat so you can get up and down as you please, which is also handy for emptying that pregnancy bladder. Drink plenty of water - easier said than done if you are struggling with the first trimester – but the fluids will also keep you hydrated and help with blood flow. If you are suffering from morning sickness, have a sick bag handy and try and lie down if possible.
Try and choose an aisle seat.
Keep other children entertained
Walking back and forth to your seat with a curious toddler is a great way to get up and move around, but remember to try and get some rest in between. Even if you don’t believe in too much TV, the in-flight entertainment system can be a godsend for keeping a toddler quiet while you rest or have a little nap. Take a couple of your child’s favourite toys, along with a colouring book – anything to make the journey easier for you. Pregnancy is taxing enough, and the stress of travel can only add to fatigue.
My toddler’s dream come true.
By being prepared, you can experience a stress-free flight during pregnancy, arrive at your destination safely and enjoy your trip, wherever you may be in the world.