If you are visiting Wellington, or any other part of New Zealand during your pregnancy, you likely have many questions on your mind, including:
- Is it safe to fly during pregnancy?
- Will air travel harm my baby?
- Can I take a plane at 32 weeks along, 38 weeks pregnancy, or a few weeks before my due date?
- Do I need any special documents in order to travel while I’m pregnant?
All of these legitimate questions, as well as the key points you must consider before travelling to NZ during pregnancy, are covered in this article. Read on to find the answers.
Is it safe to fly to NZ during pregnancy?
In general, flying on a commercial airline before the 36th week of gestation is considered safe.
Nevertheless, if you have a high-risk pregnancy, multiple blood clot risk factors, or a history of preterm deliveries, it would be best to consult your healthcare practitioner before you fly, even if an airline doesn’t mandate it.
Most airlines have certain restrictions that apply to pregnant women flying. They may vary from one carrier to another.
The intention of these restrictions is to lower the chances of women unexpectedly going into labour during a flight.
However, flying in and of itself —including cabin pressure— is not likely to kick-start labour. Therefore, rest assured that air travel will not automatically jump-start the process of labour.
Do take into consideration your due date, though, with the knowledge that it as more of an estimate than a guarantee.
How far along during pregnancy can I board a flight to NZ?
The simple answer is: it depends.
Most airlines restrict travel after 36 weeks of gestation for a single pregnancy. Women carrying twins or triplets are generally not allowed to board a flight beyond 32 weeks.
Your safest bet would be to consult with your physician as well as the airline you intend to travel with while you are planning your trip to NZ.
Different airlines have varying restrictions and regulations for pregnant women travelling on their flights, for instance:
- For a single baby pregnancy, a woman may board flights over 4 hours long until the end of the 36th week. Flights less than 4 hours long may be boarded up until the end of the 40th week.
- International flights travelling over water within 4 weeks> of your due date, will require a clearance issued by a special assistance coordinator. You will also need a letter written and signed by your doctor stating that you have been examined within 48 hours of departing and that they consider it is safe for you to fly
- For women expecting multiples, flights of 4 hours or more are permitted until the end of the 32nd week. Flying under 4 hours is permitted until the 36th week
Keep in mind that all pregnant women who wish to fly while carrying multiple babies are required to present a clearance letter issued by their doctor or midwife.
Guidelines for air travel during pregnancy
While flying during pregnancy is considered generally safe until the second term, there are several guidelines, restrictions, and safety measures you will want to check out with each airline before booking your flight.
Medical clearance before flying while pregnant
Women in any of the following conditions will require a letter of approval from their medical team prior to flying during pregnancy:
- If you are in the early stages of labour
- If you have a medical history of premature labour
- If you are carrying twins or triplets
- If your pregnancy is considered complicated in nature
Documentation required to fly to New Zealand during pregnancy
Women travelling to NZ by air while gestating are required to have the following requirements on hand:
- If you are more than 28 weeks along, you are advised to obtain a letter from a doctor or a midwife stating explicitly that they consider you are fit for travel. Other information this document should contain are your estimated due date, that the pregnancy is low-risk and that you have no known complications
- Additionally, you should verify whether your nationality is visa-exempt for New Zealand. In this case, you will need to apply for an NZeTA prior to your departure. If, on the contrary, you are required to apply for a visa, you may do so by visiting an NZ embassy or consulate in your place of residence
- If you are flying to the island country with your kids, make sure to go over our guide on travelling to NZ with children
- Pregnant women travelling to NZ with medical conditions will find our guide on the subject particularly useful
- Although it is not a mandatory requirement, you may wish to consider covering your trip with travel insurance
Now that you know everything you need about travelling while you are pregnant, remember to check the travel requirements for New Zealand. For instance, make sure your passport is up-to-date and that you have all the necessary documents to ensure a smooth entry and avoid delays upon arrival.