Search icon


07th May 2024

Everything you need to know if you’re flying this summer while pregnant

Sophie Collins


If you’re pregnant and planning a trip abroad soon, you probably have lots of questions

Do I need a scan before I fly? Is it safe for me to be on a plane at this point in my pregnancy? Does flying heighten my risk of miscarriage?

The list of questions goes on and on.

Most women can travel safely while pregnant, according to the HSE, and flying does not increase your risk of early labour or miscarriage.

Here is everything you need to know if you’re planning a trip by plane in the midst of your pregnancy.

First things first

Flying may not be recommended if you:

  • have a condition affecting your blood cells, such as anaemia or sickle cell disease
  • have any condition affecting your heart or lungs that makes it hard for you to breathe
  • are at risk of premature labour, for example if you previously had a premature birth
  • recently had a vaginal bleed

Long-haul flights – anything over 4 hours – can be more uncomfortable as opposed to short haul flights. 

There is also a higher risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (clots in the legs) on long-haul flights.

Before you book

Here are a few things you should check before arranging flights, according to the HSE:

  • When it is safe to fly
  • If you are pregnant with 1 baby, the safest time to fly during pregnancy is before 37 weeks. If you are pregnant with twins the safest time is before 32 weeks.
  • It is a good idea to speak to your GP, obstetrician or midwife before you take any flight.

Airline rules

If you’re travelling after 28 weeks, the airline you are with may ask for a letter from your doctor or midwife confirming your due date.

This is to make sure you are not at risk of complications.

Many airlines do not allow women to fly after 37 weeks, so make sure you check before booking.

Medical facilities

Before you book, it’s highly recommended that you find out if there is a maternity hospital close to your destination. 

You should also know if there are facilities for premature babies in the event of premature labour.

Travel insurance

Check that your travel insurance covers you while pregnant. This includes if you need to be admitted to hospital abroad or have other associated costs.

For example, you may have to stay in hospital for several weeks if you develop ruptured membranes or threatened pre-term labour. 

You may also not be able to fly for a period of time after discharge from hospital.

If you’re travelling to Europe, get a European Health Insurance Card.

It is free and allows you to get free access to public health services in:

  • European Union (EU) countries
  • European Economic Area (EEA) countries
  • Switzerland
  • The card gives you access to any necessary healthcare you may need if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay. However, it does not cover private treatment.

Travel vaccines

Talk to your GP or obstetrician if you are travelling to a place which requires vaccinations. 

Make sure you get the correct vaccinations needed for risk areas.

What to pack

Make sure you bring:

  • any medicines in your hand luggage, including folic acid
  • a letter from your GP and medical notes, if you carry them

Common concerns

Concerns you may have include:

  • Worsened pregnancy symptoms
  • Pregnancy symptoms may get worse when you fly. These include a blocked nose or ears, swollen legs and morning sickness.

Airport security

You will have to go through all of the usual security checks at the airport. Rest assured, the HSE states that walking through the security scanner is not harmful for you or your baby.


Anyone who flies is exposed to a slight increase in radiation. Occasional flights do not put you or your baby at risk.

Speak to your manager or occupational health department if you:

  • are a member of a flight crew (like a pilot or flight attendant)
  • fly regularly as part of your job

Deep vein thrombosis

Your risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is increased when pregnant.

DVT is a blood clot that can form in your leg and can be very dangerous.

This is more likely to happen in flights over 4 hours (long-haul flights).

To reduce your risk and help your circulation:

  • wear loose clothing and comfortable shoes
  • take regular walks and do in-seat exercises
  • 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, an injection of heparin (blood thinners) may be recommended.