Check the fine print on your air ticket. An airline is well within its rights to refuse a seat to anybody at a certain stage of pregnancy.

An expectant woman is a staple character in most disaster movies, who would end up giving birth in the most inopportune of moments. The presence of an expectant woman creates a sub-plot that revolves around her, as a bunch of strangers struggle to find a doctor in the aftermath of a cataclysm that supposively has destroyed all primary health facilities, or they roll up their sleeves and help deliver the baby themselves.

Pregnancy also adds another very human dimension - it suggests that life can endure and replenish itself in the midst of death and destruction, and that perhaps we are more resilient than we credit ourselves. The pregnant woman might appear to be weak and dependant, but ultimately her inner strength and instinct to protect her child becomes apparent.

The plot device may touch on a 'Circle of Life' philosophy; the father of the child might have been the brave fireman who died turning off an intake valve on an exploding oil-rig. If this was the case and she was actually partnered to somebody else, then we have another sub-plot (does the cuckolded guy know? how will he react?). And it suitably makes the ideal for a date as it keeps the girls interested while guys get their fill of suspense and mayhem.

Don't try to perform an emergency delivery of a child using the techniques employed in these films. If male directors and scriptwriters make simple mistakes about technical subject matter (e.g.: you cannot fire a flare gun out of the window of the Concorde in full throttle in order to deceive a heat seeking missile), don't rely on their knowledge of gynecology.

Disaster movies that involve a pregnant woman include:

Gone with the Wind (1939) Ok, this classic is not a disaster movie, but a beseiged Atlanta is burning to the ground. With all the doctors attending to the dying Confederates, Scarlett has to deliver Melanie's baby herself, despite knowin' nothin' 'bout birthin' babies.

Airport (1970) (1970) In less enlightened years airlines would retain pregnant stewardesses (and call them stewardesses), like Gwendolyn Mehan (Jacqueline Bisset), who carries the child of the brother-in-law of Lincoln Airport, Vernon Demarest (Dean Martin).

Skyjacked (1972) Harriet Stevens Marianne Hartley suddenly goes into labour in the middle of a hijacking.

The Swarm (1978) Patty Duke plays Rita, a pregnant woman who falls in love with her doctor only days after her husband died from being stung by the avant garde of a swarm of African killer bees invading North America. I guess it's true what they say…that a woman sort of falls in love with her doctor at this time.

Air Crew (1980) This was the only disaster movie to come out of the Soviet Union; a blatant attempt to mimic the Hollywood disaster movie fad by the country that produced Eisenstein, Tarkovsky and Paradjanov. In Air Crew, a plane must escape from a remote town imperiled by earthquakes, flash floods, fires and even lava. The captain's daughter is pregnant and refuses to marry the father.

Threads (1984) Arguably one of the most shocking films ever produced, showing in graphic but frighteningly plausible detail what life would resemble following a nuclear holocaust. One survivor gives birth to a mentally retarded girl eight months after Britain is nuked with 80 megatons. Thirteen years later that girl would be raped and in turn deliver a stillborn foetus.

Cyclone Tracy (1986) Based on the real-life story of the destruction of the Australian town of Darwin in 1974, although I don't know if a woman really gave birth alone while the storm rained down, or if she bit off the umbilical cord.

Panic in the Skies (1996) The cockpit of a747 is struck by lightning, killing the crew. Somehow the passengers must land the plane themselves, while assist one of their own about to give birth.

Final Descent (1997) Another commercial airliner collides with a Cessna just after takeoff, causing its elevators to jam in the full climb position. The captain has to contend with a cabin decompression, a grudge with an airline inspector, the unethical manufacturer of the plane, his co-pilot (who turns out to be his girlfriend), and a woman about to give birth in first class.

Category Six: Day of Destruction (2004) A massive hurricane from the Gulf of Mexico meets a tornado over Chicago, which is plagued by power cuts. The pregnant woman gets stuck in an elevator, pelted with debris raining down from above, with an opinionated ageing female hippie for company.