Pregnancy App Article: "Flying when pregnant"

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Flying when pregnant
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Chances are you could do with a break, right? And as long as you consult your doctor, there’s no medical reason you shouldn’t fly - so now's the time to squeeze in one last nappy-free holiday.

What do the airlines say?

Every airline has its own policy, but typical regulations are in line with the RCOG guidelines. It is essential you communicate with your airline, if possible prior to booking, to confirm its exact requirements.

In a straightforward pregnancy, you can travel up to 28 weeks as normal. You don't even need to tell anyone, although it's a good idea to discuss your plans with either your midwife or doctor.
 
After 28 weeks, you'll need your doctor to complete a pregnancy information form, which essentially confirms your due date and that you are in good health.
 
After 36 weeks, you'll struggle to find any airline willing to carry you, unless there are exceptional mitigating circumstances (typically, urgent medical or compassionate reasons). In these cases, airlines will insist on a further medical consultation, and could request you travel with medically qualified attendants.
 
If you're carrying multiples, the rules are much tighter, with travel limited to 32 weeks.

Pregnancy information form

Some airlines provide template pregnancy information forms, or you can download a version online. Your airline will advise when they need to see this - it may just be at check-in, or you may be required to send a copy beforehand.

Each GP surgery has its own guidelines on things like charges, appointments and timings for filling in the form, so get in contact well in advance of your trip.

It's sensible to take your antenatal notes with you, too. Not only will you need them in case of an emergency, but they're also useful to prove exactly how far gone you are (better safe than sorry!)
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I almost went without a letter thinking I could get away with looking fat. But I’m glad I got one in the end because I felt really rough on the plane home and was legitimately able to ask the cabin crew for extra help without feeling embarrassed.
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I flew 10 hours non-stop in my fifth month. No problem as I was told to guzzle water and keep walking around. It was a doddle compared to now lugging a two-year-old monster on long-haul.
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Are there any risks?
While flying in pregnancy generally isn't risky, there are a few possible issues of which it's wise to be aware. 

The more common of these include:

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): Long-distance travel (more than five hours) carries an increased risk of blood clots (thrombosis), and pregnant women have a higher risk of DVT anyway. 

There are precautions you can take to minimise your risk, such as keeping hydrated, moving around as much as possible, doing specific exercises, and wearing DVT tights/socks - Mumsnetters also report that these are very good for varicose veins!
 
Jetlag: Mumsnetters say this can seem worse in pregnancy, so bear in mind you may need longer to recover.
 
Pulled ligaments: Lifting heavy objects is a big no-no during pregnancy, so now's the time to pack a capsule wardrobe. If nothing else, do ensure you won't personally be carrying on heavy hand luggage.
 
Premature labour overseas: This is the greatest risk – hence the restriction on flying once your pregnancy is at term (37 weeks). While flying itself won't bring on labour, babies can and do arrive early - so ensure you're happy with your decision to travel.
 
There may be some circumstances in which it is advisable not to fly, and you should discuss any concerns or existing medical conditions directly with your midwife or GP. For example, if your pregnancy has been deemed high-risk, or there is a higher possibility of you going into labour before your due date.

Finally, don't forget to read the small print on your travel insurance. Some insurers won't cover pregnant women over 30 weeks; others won't cover pregnant women at all. You must check you're adequately covered and depending on where you are travelling to, you might want to consider taking out additional cover.

How can you make the flight more comfortable?

As your pregnancy progresses, sitting comfortably for 10 minutes - never mind 10 hours - can feel like a challenge. 
  • Drink more water than usual - at least two to three litres in 24 hours
  • Move around the cabin during the flight (for once going to the loo frequently is a helpful reminder to get up)
  • Ask for an aisle seat if you can, to make getting up and out easier
  • Wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes
  • Adjust your seat belt so the strap lies below your bump
  • Take your own snacks to ensure you're prepared for pregnancy hunger pangs
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Discuss your antenatal travel plans
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