What are the problems with flying while pregnant?

Caitlin - Midwife at The Baby Academy

Flying can cause discomfort at the best of times. While pregnant, it can exacerbate the discomfort you’re already experiencing. Symptoms like a blocked nose or ears, swollen legs, and morning sickness can all get worse at 30,000 feet. Some airlines require a “fit to fly” letter to be available, this will state your due date and if there are any complications which make flying riskier for you. Your GP or obstetrician can arrange this. Midwives are unable to provide these certs.

Airport Security

Nobody likes airport security. It keeps us safe, sure. But it’s definitely not fun. The bad news is that you’ll still have to go through the full battery of security tests before flying. The good news: walking through the security scanner is not harmful for you or your baby.


Flying slightly increases your exposure to radiation. For most of you who only fly occasionally, this is nothing to worry about.

Anyone who flies is exposed to a slight increase in radiation. Occasional flights do not put you or your baby at risk. That said, you should speak to your manager about cutting down on travel if flying is a regular part of your job.

Deep vein thrombosis

Pregnancy increases the risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)- a blood clot that can form in the leg.

As you’d expect, this is more of a risk in longer flights.

To aid circulation and reduce risk of DVT:

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes
  • Get up and move around the plane where possible.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Wear graduated elastic compression stockings. Your midwife, GP or pharmacist will need to measure you

If you have other risk factors for developing blood clots, in addition to pregnancy, you need to discuss your flight with your obstetrician.

Pregnancy definitely makes flying more difficult, but by no means impossible. We hope, by now, you understand that the downsides are limited and, by following some of the practical tips outlined in this post, manageable.

Learn more

Are you currently pregnant? – Together, let’s get ready to parent. We have created a class tailored for pregnant women in their second or third trimester (Fill in the form below to get your free place today!).