Pregnancy is definitely not a reason that should prevent expectant mothers from traveling and enjoying an amazing holiday experience. Considering that a soon to be mom will soon be structuring a daily routine around the baby and air travel may not be possible without further ado. Either way, even though flying during pregnancy is not a problem, there are a few rules you need to consider when booking. On top of that, we even fished out a few details on what to do in case contractions start up in the air and on the plane!
Until when can I fly during pregnancy?
Well, there are a few factors to consider and it comes down to how you feel, what week you are in, the airline regulations, and what your doctor has to say.
- You should avoid flying in your first trimester
- You should have your gynecologist give you a certificate detailing your pregnancy which you should carry in your hand luggage at all times
- You should know that most airlines will not let you board if you are beyond week 36
Even though we state week 36 above, it really boils down to the airline company policy. It is advisable to carry a medical certificate with you while traveling from roughly week 28 and onwards. As noted, as of week 36 most airlines will not even let you board, making it difficult to fly. Also not in case of twins (multiple births) this typically then comes down to week 32!
Airlines such as Iberia and Delta Airlines advise not to fly the last month of your pregnancy as the risk of contracting on the plane is very high. Carriers like Air Canada typically carry pregnant women up to four weeks before the expected birth date even without a certificate, but as stated it doesn’t hurt to have a medical note from your doctor. Nonetheless, most airlines, even with a medical certificate from your doctor may not let you board earlier than that. Make sure to check with customer service prior to booking. Get acquainted with the conditions of the airline in order to avoid any problems up front, before even setting foot in the airport. On top of that, knowing ahead of time what the rules are will ease the stress of traveling along the way.
Next, to that, make sure you inform yourself of the entry requirement of the respective destination country in regards to pregnancy. Even if the airline allows you to travel, there may be other laws in your country of destination. And albeit having a few weeks left to birth, having a medical certificate from your doctor may not be enough. You may need to prove that you have health insurance or something similar during your stay in the respective country. Check these details as well.
Birth over the clouds a fairy tale?
The simple answer – no. Births actually take place and happen every now and then. Should this be the case, the airplane’s crew will step in as a midwife replacement to help with the birth. There have been quite a few over the recent years including in 2004 on a Virgin Atlantic flight from Lagos to London and in January 2011 and March 2016 on Jetstar Pacific flights. A fun little sidenote for the Virgin Atlantic flight was that Richard Branson, the owner of the company, was so delighted to hear about how well everything went that he went on to gift Virginia (the girl born), 21 years of free flying with Virgin Air.
This does not mean every airline will gift you, however, it was a nice gesture on Branson’s part.
What nationality does a child born on a plane receive?
This is a tough question to answer directly. Which nationality and place of birth are given is something probably many of us have pondered about over the years. Again it is not easy to answer because it depends on the route and overflown territory and how this is handled.
If a baby is born while flying over the ocean (in international waters), then according to the United Nations, the place of birth of the child depends on the country of registration of the aircraft. Hence, if you fly across the Atlantic on a Lufthansa plane, registered in Germany, then you may be looking at a German passport. The potential consequences in regards to paperwork and relevant citizenship issues are something you may want to consider while traveling, especially towards the end of your pregnancy.
A few interesting notes about birth above the clouds
- If a baby is born in American airspace including the 18-mile zone, it automatically receives US citizenship. (Note that international waters begin 22km beyond a countries territory to that water).
- Despite the variety and numerous regulations, generally speaking, a baby born during a flight will receive the nationality of his/her parents.
- In accordance with international law, the birthplace should be registered with the latitude and longitude data.
Traveling while pregnant should not be a hindrance to enjoying the ability to soak in cultures, countries, meeting people, friends or family. However, by noting a few of the points above you now may have a bit of insight into what to be aware of while traveling when pregnant and what to make sure you inform yourself of. That being said, we wish all to-be moms an amazing trip and journey, safe travels, and all the best with your beautiful new-born.