Updated 31 August 2016

Travelling during pregnancy

You’ve probably heard all sorts of different opinions about travelling while you are pregnant. What are the facts about air and road travel?


You’ve probably heard all sorts of different opinions about travelling during pregnancy. What are the facts about air and road travel?

It is perfectly safe to travel by plane in your first and second trimester, provided there are no complications with your pregnancy. The second trimester is probably a better time to travel because you will not be plagued by morning sickness and will not suffer from the usual discomfort experienced in the last trimester. Travel on small planes is not as safe as they do not have pressurised cabins.

Most airlines don’t allow women to travel late in their pregnancy because of the possibility of preterm labour. Every airline has its own regulations. Check when you make your booking to avoid being turned away at the check-in counter.

SAA allows women to travel until the 34th week of pregnancy on domestic flights and the 32nd week on international flights. Nationwide allows travel until 28 weeks and between 28 and 32 weeks with a doctor’s certificate. On British Airways you can travel until 28 weeks. Between 28-35 weeks a doctor’s certificate is required. This applies to domestic and international flights.

Travelling by car
Long car trips are safe throughout pregnancy. Remember that pregnancy is not an excuse not to wear a seatbelt. The amniotic fluid and your body provide a cushion for your baby. Airbags are also safe but move your seat further away from the dashboard.

Safe and comfortable travel
Sitting for long periods of time can make your ankles and feet swell and can cause leg cramps. If you travel by car, take frequent breaks – you will probably need it to go to the toilet! In a plane, stroll up and down the aisle. Do stretching exercises: flex your foot to stretch your calf muscles, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes.

Thrombosis (blood clots) is a risk when you are travelling. Support stockings will help to improve circulation and will relieve swollen veins.

Avoid travelling to areas where malaria is a risk.

Read more:
Moms-to-be: diet and air alert

(Mandy Borrain, Health24)


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