Flying at 38 weeks Pregnant . . . Would you? 

Some pregnant women worry about their diet, exercise regiment, sleep schedule, and/or emotional heath.  To be honest, I haven’t really given most of those things a second thought over the past nine months. I just do what I usually do, with some modifications, of course. My main worry, during this pregnancy, was about traveling. This, too, I didn’t dwell on during my first pregnancy. My husband, Sean, and I traveled all the way to Sydney, Australia when I was 5 months pregnant with my son, Landon, and I flew (moved actually) to Los Angeles 8 months preggo. This pregnancy, however, I had a bigger date on the calendar that I did NOT want to miss:  my sister-in-law’s wedding in Austin, TX on May 9.  What’s the problem you ask?  My due date is May 25.  So, yes that’s right . . . you’re not “supposed” to be getting on a plane that late into your pregnancy.  Hence, my dilemma.  What’s a preggo to do?

The engaged couple, Maureen & Hans, called the entire family to make sure the date worked so they could book their venue . . . about 2 weeks before we found out we were pregnant.  Our first thought, of course, was, “We’ll figure it out. It’ll be fine,” so I actually spent most of my pregnancy feeling pretty optimistic about the situation.  Right at the beginning of my 3rd trimester, when I traveled to NYC, I became uncomfortable with some SI joint issues.  Let’s just say that feeling like you’re being kicked in the ass every time you take a step is not super fun (My heart goes out to any of my fellow preggers who have dealt with sciatica.), so at that point I definitely started to question traveling to Austin at 37 weeks pregnant.  Fortunately, the pain went away a few weeks later, and I was back to my usual routine and once again feeling optimistic.


The bottom line was this . . . I’ve known Maureen since she was fifteen (yes, that’s how long my husband and I have been together). Sixteen years later I did not want to miss the most important event in her life. Besides that, both Sean and Landon were standing up in the wedding. I knew that, ultimately, I would be more sad if I stayed home, than I would be about having a baby in Austin, which was Scenario #1.  I just thought, “Let’s’ face it – there are worse places you could deliver a baby, right?” Plus, what if I stayed in Santa Monica alone, and my son and husband went without me to the wedding, Scenario #2, and then came back and I still hadn’t had the baby? I would have been even more regretful and sad. Seeing that today is May 20 and I still haven’t had the baby, this would have been just the case.  Scenario #3 was that they go to the wedding, I stay here, they can’t get back in time, and I go into labor without them here.  For me, this was the worst possibility; I didn’t want to risk delivering baby #2 without Sean by my side.  I’d much rather just have the baby in Austin. And oddly enough, though everyone else seemed to be, I was never once concerned that I would have the baby on the plane, Scenario #4. It was a 2.5 hour flight, and I just felt like I knew my body wouldn’t do that to me.

**For more scenarios, check in with my mother & mother-in-law. I think they had lunch together and came up with every possible situation.

So what did my OBGYN say?

Well, legally, my OBGYN could not recommend me getting on a plane at almost 38 weeks, especially since she put me on the monitor 2 weeks before the wedding and saw that I was already having contractions. I left the appointment that day in tears.  Thank goodness for my sane husband, who when I called him balling about the prospect of not going to the wedding, calmed me down and said, “Let’s worry about names for the baby. That’s more important right now.”  He told me later that he just knew I wouldn’t allow myself to miss the wedding.  The dude knows me better than anyone – what can I say?

The day before we were supposed to fly, at just over 37 weeks, Sean went with me to see the doc. Sean, who has a much better read on people than I do, said to me “She’s not worried.”  My OB had asked me a few times how late I was with Landon (10 days), how big Landon was when he was born (8.4 lbs.), and voiced that she wanted this baby to be a little closer in weight before delivery (which meant I probably had 2-3 more weeks left in me).  Although she could not recommend that I go, what she did say was that if I was going to make the decision to go and wanted to make sure I did not have a baby in Austin, I would essentially need to be on bed rest while I was there to keep the baby inside and not risk ANYTHING happening.

So that’s what I did.

We flew Southwest (who by the way, actually allows women to fly up to 38 weeks, no doctor note needed).  Sean insisted I cover my growing bump with a big sweater, as if that would hide anything.  My game plan, if anyone asked, was to act horrified that they were questioning me and say “How dare you! I’m having twins!”

Fortunately, my mom was also meeting us in Austin. Not only was she invited to the wedding, but she was coming to  help with Landon and make sure her pregnant daughter stayed in bed (Thanks, Mom).  Plus, Landon couldn’t have been happier to have his Gram there.

The good news

I essentially stayed seated or in bed Wednesday through Friday and made it to the beautiful wedding on Friday night!

I got to see my husband and son dressed in their adorable suspenders.

Sean & Landon headed to the wedding.
Sean & and his “Mini-Me” headed to the wedding.

I watched Maureen, looking the most beautiful I’ve ever seen her, marry the love of her life.

The beautiful bride.
The beautiful bride. Breathtakingly gorgeous.

And I even saw donkeys delivering beers to the wedding guests. (Yes, that really happened.)

Miniature donkeys giving away beers to the guests & apple juice to the kids. Classic.

Landon walking down the isle, as one of Maureen’s ring bearers. How could I have missed this?

We weren’t leaving until Sunday, so on Saturday I did even less. I was terrified I had pushed my luck and would go into labor now that the wedding was over.  I basically laid in bed with my eyes open and prayed I would make it through one more day before flying home.

And now?

Well, here I am, back in Santa Monica, for over a week now . . . still pregnant. I will tell you that my 4 days of bed rest in Austin were a little torturous for me, who does not like to sit still. (And yes, I realize I have nothing to complain about compared to the women who are put on months and months of bed rest.), but more than anything, I am just grateful that the baby cooperated and stayed inside. If anything, it just reiterates to me how important it is to stay active when you can during pregnancy . . . you just never know what can happen or the decisions you’ll have to make. Balancing WHAT you love with WHO you love can sometimes really test you. This was probably the most challenging decision of my pregnancy, but I know I made the right one. What would you have done?  (Feel free to leave a reply below.)

17 thoughts on “Flying at 38 weeks Pregnant . . . Would you? 

  1. Brave Mommy! Im so glad everything worked out for you. Missing special occasions is so hard when you are expecting. You had your family with you so if anything happened you would ALL be together so you were in the best hands going with them. Hope you stay as comfortable as you can these last few days.

  2. I would have gone too! Labor on a plane…what a story to tell. Your a die hard so I bet you would have been able to do it no problem! Kudos to you!! I was booked to travel to Ireland at 5.5 months pregnant but decided against it in the end…my doctor was not against it at all…he even looked into hospitals in Ireland for me but with all the twin pregnancies complications I was having we thought best to stay back…I was so sad!! 5-7hr flight a bit different from 2.5.

    1. It was seriously such a hard decision. I went back and forth forever on it. And yes, part of it made it easier that I was just going to Austin. If the flight had been any longer I may have reconsidered. Great story to tell. 🙂

  3. Like all things pregnancy/new mom related, I think people should do whatever works best for them. I also traveled when I was pregnant, and I probably would have made the same choice that you did about not missing a friend’s wedding, even at 38 weeks. That was my first baby, now, I wouldn’t even consider flying that late during another pregnancy because I had some unexpected (and highly unlikely) complications when I delivered. The outcome would not have been good had I not been in a hospital.

    1. Agreed! Everyone has to do what’s best for them, and EVERY pregnancy is sooo different. All we can do is listen to our bodies (and our babies).

  4. I am so glad to have found your blog! I recently found out I am pregnant with baby #2, 7 weeks & 5 days to be exact. My best friends wedding, who I have also known for now almost 16 years, is getting married on May 29th in New York. We live in Los Angeles. My due date was given to me yesterday: June 17th. Of course my mother is very concerned that I am still hopeful about going to the wedding. But, like you, I really feel like this is something I can not miss. My first pregnancy was not normal, I was put on bed rest at 31 1/2 weeks because my daughter tried to make an early exit. But with the bed rest, she stayed in until 2 days before her due date. Also, I was not as active then as I am now, so I am so so hopeful that this one will hang in and allow me to fly to my best friend’s wedding. Thanks for giving me some more hope!

  5. i just flew this weekend to LA, 3 hour flight there and right back the same day 3 hour flight back. I’m 37 weeks. Nothing happened, just that when we landed my back did start hurting pretty bad. The pain lasted about 5 mins and that was it.

  6. Thanks for this! I need to fly at 38 weeks, also my second child and I feel a lot better reading about your positive experience….and my flight is only 30 minutes.c

  7. So I am 37 weeks pregnant and have an emergency flight from Florida to California. Well the part that has me nervous is I saw my obgyn yesterday and I am 1cm dilated, my flight is tomorrow and my mucus plug just came out. I am not having contractions nor pain but I’m nervous but trying to relax and need advice.

  8. I know this is an old post, but I’m glad I found it. I’ve been back and forth with the same issue – my best friend is getting married and I’ll be 37+2 at her wedding and have to fly from Chicago to NY. My OB obviously doesn’t recommend it. I booked an appt for the day before my flight and will have to make a game time decision. Bed rest while there sounds like a good option!

  9. I am faced with the same situation.
    I’m currently 14 weeks. Live in London. My dearest brothers wedding is in Ireland when I will be 37+4
    I would fly over at 36+6 and back to London at 37+5. Providing I am fit to fly an airline will do this – CityJet. This is my first pregnancy and so far feel great just a little tired.

    The flight is 1 hour 10 mins and the wedding is where I was born and grew up with family and friends all around me. As an Irish citizen I am entitled to medical treatment as normal and could fly back to London if I did have the baby, after 14 days. Certainly not the end of the world. My husband will be with me on both flights.

    The thought of missing my brothers wedding is too upsetting. I appreciate this is my first baby but tiredness, back ache, sickness will not stop
    me. My brother is like my first baby and I love him fiercely so can’t imagine missing it.

    I just pray thay me and the baby have no
    Complications – as this would stop me in my tracks. Advise online is varied. In the uk the NHS is great but like anything Doctors/ Midwifes have different opinions and some are more cautious than others I guess medically speaking they need to consider only the facts of me taking the journey.

    So glad it worked out for you x you made the right decision in my mind! You’re a brave woman and your kids will look up to No doubt x

    1. Hey Mama. Definitely do what you are most comfortable with. My OBGYN definitely didn’t say yes but she didn’t say no either – she left it up to us. It’s good that your hubby will be with you. Is this your first baby?

  10. Hi Sara – thanks for your reply! yes this is my first so blissfully unaware of what lies ahead. In the UK they are uber cautious and most forums I have discussed this on wouldn’t even consider this. They are incredibly risk averse and speak at length of complications.
    I am a tough cookie though and look at this from the perspective of probability of issues arising. I hope like you I remain fit and well as I have throughout the first trimester. Your Tory gives me hope x

  11. I know this is an old post, but so glad I found it. I am slightly crazy in that we have something very important happening in Las Vegas August 6-9 and I live in Canada, due Aug 30. I’ll be 36+4 when we fly down and 37+1 when we fly home. It’s a 4 hour flight, and the complication is that I have no medical insurance for the USA…. sooooo if anything happens it’s a giant medical bill! (From the Internet I’m guessing $10k – $30k) It’s my second baby, my first was 9 days late, so I’m confident that I will be fine. I went through the scenarios just like you, and what would be most devastating is if I stay home and go into labour and have a baby while my husband isn’t here. I’d rather be stuck with a medical bill.

    So I’m happy to hear that you had faith that everything would be fine (just like I do) and that it worked in your favour!!

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