By Alison Fox
July 29, 2019
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Going into labor can feel scary. And going into labor at 30,000 feet can be downright terrifying.

But that was the case for one woman who recently gave birth to a baby girl in the bathroom of a plane flying from Doha to Beirut. The flight was diverted to Kuwait, according to The Independent, and the crew took care of both mom and baby until the plane landed.

But let’s face it, that’s not an ideal situation. Doctors typically recommend pregnant women stop flying after 36 weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic, and take precautions when they do fly like walking around the aisles, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding gassy foods and drinks before the flight.

And airlines have their own policies as well: British Airways, for example, recommends women carry a letter from their doctor or midwife with their expected due date, confirming there have been no complications with the pregnancy. And American Airlines requires women to provide a doctor’s note if they’re flying within four weeks of their due date.

But what happens if you’re already up in the air when the baby decides it’s time? It gets complicated.

Flight attendants are trained to react quickly in emergencies, including in medical emergencies — one flight attendant told Business Insider that she “could deliver a baby if I have to.”

But if a doctor happens to be on board, they could be called into action. That was the case when a second-year urology resident at Cleveland Clinic’s Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute helped a woman give birth to a baby boy while en route from Paris to New York City. The woman’s contractions sped up so fast that the plane was unable to make an emergency landing in time so she was moved into first class to give birth.

Determining the baby’s citizenship, however, can pose a whole new set of questions, The Points Guy noted. While certain countries automatically give the baby its parents’ citizenship, if the baby is born over the ocean it may become a citizen of the country where the plane is registered, according to TPG.

And if the baby is born over land, some countries may grant citizenship — the U.S., for example, automatically grants citizenship to anyone born in the country's waters or airspace, according to CNN.

Ultimately, if you do end up having an air baby, it’s a good story to tell when the child gets older, and you may even get a plane named after you in the process.

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