Pregnancy, Air Transportation and Travel Insurance: What you Need to Know
François Sestier, MD, PhD, Blue Cross Medical Director
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has updated their guidelines for travel during pregnancy and stated that air travel doesn't represent any risk for a pregnant woman or her baby. However, with regard to travel insurance coverage, there are still limitations related to pregnancy.
When a healthy woman is expecting and the pregnancy is progressing normally, air travel poses no increased risk. However, some precautions must be taken prior to departure, especially if the mother has a medical condition, if she has ever had a miscarriage or an extra uterine pregnancy.
The World Health Organization's (WHO1) typical guidelines for a woman with uncomplicated pregnancy are:
- after the 28th week of pregnancy, a letter from a doctor or midwife should be carried, indicating the expected date of delivery and confirming that the pregnancy is normal;
- for a single pregnancy, flying is permitted up to the end of the 36th week;
- For multiple pregnancy, flying is permitted up to the end of the 32nd week.
These recommendations must be verified since they vary from an airline to another.
Blue Cross Travel Insurance: up to 32 weeks
Pregnancy isn't an illness but still represents a risk of
complications. Blue Cross covers the risk related to pregnancy up
to the 32nd week. Pregnancy and its
complications are NOT covered during the 8 weeks preceding the due
date of the child. Always consult your doctor before
investing any money in travel arrangements.
Health prevention for air travel during pregnancy
Advise your doctor that you plan on taking a trip by air
transportation. Depending on the progression of your pregnancy, an
ultrasound test may be necessary to verify the development,
position and viability of the foetus. This is especially important
if there is a history of extra uterine pregnancy or
If your doctor declares that you are fit to fly, it must be noted that:
1. Travel sickness symptoms can be stronger for some women
during pregnancy. If you suffer from travel sickness when you are
not pregnant, advise your doctor to get help to prevent
2. Immobility increases risks of deep vein phlebitis. The risk is higher for pregnant women up to 6 weeks after giving birth. Support hose or tights help blood circulation to prevent blood clot.
3. Moving during the flight is essential: stretch your legs, stand up and walk regularly.
4. Pregnant women must remain hydrated: drink plenty of fluids, either water or fruit juice.
If your doctor fears a risk of a miscarriage or advises you not to travel - whatever the reason - avoid travelling at all costs. Not only would you pose a risk to yourself and your unborn child, you would also not be covered by insurance for any accident or illness related to your pregnancy.
For more info
1 Travelling while pregnant: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/travelling-pregnant
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA): Pregnancy
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG): Updated guidance, air travel during pregnancy
World Health Organization (WHO): Travellers with medical conditions or special needs