Many pregnant women make use of air travel, but what are the risks and what happens if your water breaks mid-flight?
Pregnant women flying for business or pleasure is not an unusual concept. Most women are given the go-ahead from their health professionals up to a certain stage, provided it's a healthy pregnancy and they're fit to fly.
But sometimes, pregnant women are declared fit to fly, but things don't always go according to plan. These videos give new meaning to airborne.
Free tickets for life
Recently, a woman gave birth to her baby boy on board a Buraq Air flight from Tripoli, Libya to Niamey, Niger. The flight is roughly three and a half hours long.
It was reported that mom and baby were all right. It was the first time a baby was born on one of the airline's planes – the baby boy was named after the pilot, Abdul Basset, and the baby was given a lifetime of free flights from the airline.
One million free flight miles
Little Abdul is not the first baby to be born in mid-air. Two months ago, a passenger on board a Cebu Pacific Airlines flight from Dubai to the Philippines posted about a woman who gave birth during the flight.
Missy Berberabe Umandal, the passenger, said the baby was healthy and very lucky. The newborn received one million free flight miles from the airline.
The pilot made an emergency landing in India in order to ensure that the mother and her newborn daughter were healthy and well.
Hiding pregnancy from airline to give baby birth rights
Last year, a woman gave birth on board a China Airways flight heading for Los Angeles from Taiwan. Cabin crew assisted the woman and the baby girl was born safely.
There has been some speculation surrounding the unknown mother of the baby's motives. She allegedly hid her pregnancy from the airline and it is believed that her intention was to give birth to her baby on American soil, which would result in her baby having an American passport.
If this were true, this woman would have been a lot closer to her due date, if not past it.
So you're pregnant, may you fly?
Stephen Forbes, public relations spokesperson for British Airways, told Parent24 the airline's policy for travelling when pregnant is that for a single pregnancy, the cut off is the end of the 36th week. For multiples, however, it is the end of 32 weeks.
The policy also states that after 28 weeks, you must carry confirmation from your health professional, in addition to your pregnancy record, which should be written seven to 10 days prior to your travels. It should also confirm your approximate due date, that you're fit to travel and there are no complications with your pregnancy.
It continues and says the letter covers you for your entire journey, unless there are any complications with your pregnancy that requires medical intervention. Only then would you be required to obtain an updated letter from the doctor who treated you.
Dr Johannes van Waart, obstetrician, gynaecologist and fertility specialist at Wijnland Fertility, told Parent24 that plane travel is reasonably safe in pregnancy, because conditions are well controlled.
"In some extreme circumstances, blood thinning medication might be needed as pregnant women are twice as prone to blood clotting compared to non-pregnant women. Therefore, if any other clotting risks are present, blood thinning medication should be discussed with the care-taking doctor.
"The other risk in pregnancy is premature labour and, thus, the care of the newborn on the plane with no resuscitation equipment present. The letter will take the blame off the airline company, but obviously any doctor will only give consent if the patient has to fly urgently or the risk of premature labour is low," adds van Waart.
One would think giving birth on a plane, more than 30 000 feet above sea level, could be hazardous and harmful to both the mother and the newborn, but van Waart says it's no more dangerous than delivering at home.
"This is due to the well controlled pressures in the cabin. The dangers are the lack of medical knowledge and support, if needed. The oxygen level in a plane is normally slightly lower – 19% versus 21% – than at sea level. This means that babies with underlying heart or lung problems could become hypoxic, which means they're short of oxygen, a bit easier than healthy babies, who should be fine," says van Waart.
The British Airways head office in the UK communicated to Forbes that all cabin crew are highly trained in advanced first aid skills.
"Cabin crew are also able to call upon the advice of a specialist ground-to-air medical service, which is staffed by doctors with experience in aviation medicine and remote medical care.
"If our cabin crew are advised to call upon the services of any medical professionals on board, they will take steps to ensure that they are appropriately qualified to assist. Our cabin crew are specifically trained in emergency childbirth and each aircraft carries a full delivery kit," adds Forbes.
Has someone ever given birth on a flight you were on? Do you know someone who gave birth mid-flight? What are your thoughts? Share your comments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.