Whew…we just came back from a week at DisneyWorld! It was a blast but traveling while 29 weeks pregnant is no easy feat. Each pregnancy I’ve gotten better at managing the expected discomforts of the gravid (pregnant) belly and body. But it doesn’t make it any easier. Try these tips the next time you’re headed out of town.
In your car, use your heated seats if you have them!
This was a no brainer when I lived in Alaska – it’s really cold for half the year and you need the warmth just to avoid freezing. But I’ve used heated seats to help with low back pain and sciatica pain outside of the Alaska winters in Virginia. The low or high heat settings are safe to use and will provide some much needed relief on those long drives.
For those that don’t have heated seats, take your rice sock along and use the free microwaves at the gas station to heat up those socks when you stop for bathroom, gas or snack breaks.
If you’re traveling via plane, consider taking a heating pad that plugs into one of the plane adapters if you have a long flight on your itinerary.
Do some in-flight or in-car fitness while traveling!
The big concern with long distance car travel or long distance air travel in pregnancy is blood clots. Pregnant and postpartum women are 4-5 times more likely to develop a blood clot than in a woman who is not pregnant or postpartum (American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, 2018). Usually these form in your lower legs and are called a deep vein thrombosis, but a blood clot can form anywhere in the circulatory system. Follow these tips from Stop The Clot to keep that blood flow moving and less likely to form a clot:
- Perform ankle circles while sitting. Lift one foot off the floor and rotate your ankle while trying to circles with your toes. Continue circles for 15 seconds, then perform in the opposite direction for another 15 seconds. Repeat the same motions on the other foot. Repeat as often as desired.
- Perform foot pumps while sitting. Place your heels into the floor, and flex your toes towards the ceiling as high as you are able to flex. Hold for a few seconds the return your feet to a flat position on the floor. Now do the reverse: lift your heels as high as you are able while keeping the balls of your feet on the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then return to a flat foot position. Repeat motions for 30 seconds or as long as desired.
If traveling by air, remember to walk before you get on the place while you are in the terminal (you’ll do plenty of sitting while in the air!). And if the seatbelt sign is off, you can walk the aisles or stretch near the bathrooms.
If traveling by car, try to do 20 squats or lunges every time you stop at a rest stop, gas station or place to eat.
Drink that water!
Dehydration in pregnancy causes increased cramping, constipation, contractions, and fatigue. It’s easy to get dehydrated while you are traveling because you know that the more you drink, you have to pee…and it’s hard to predict when those bathroom options are available.
Vacation also tends to favor drinks that aren’t water – soda, sweet tea, non-alcoholic treats. Prioritize water over soda, milk, juice or sweet teas while traveling when you can and aim to drink half your body weight in ounces while you’re traveling.
Try using a large thermos that keeps water cold for a long time to limit refills and to ensure you always have some water on hand.
Tip: The TSA will let you take ice through security as long as that’s the only thing in your water bottle. Also, Starbucks will usually give you a cup of ice for free if you’re looking for ice once you. go through security. #wins
Pack or plan for healthy snacks.
If you’re used to eating apples and peanut butter, nuts, larabars, and greek yogurt for snacks, then traveling can be a little tough depending on where you are headed.
Most gas stations will at least sell some nuts and fruit, but it’s easier to be prepared and pack what you can ahead of time.
Some mamas have instant hunger strikes and feel faint unless they refuel with nutrition quickly. Other mamas just don’t feel good eating fast food and high carbs or sugars multiple days in a row.
If you are able, look ahead at the kind of food available and plan out some of your meals ahead of time. You can even get groceries delivered to most hotels or B+Bs these days.
Pack your rice sock or heating pad.
I tell mamas this all the time when asked “What should I bring to the hospital?” I also recommend packing one or both of these if you’re traveling. Long car rides and air travel are really hard on a pregnant body. Body mechanics are out of whack, pregnancy discomforts (back pain, sciatica pain, swelling) are usually worsened, and sleeping can be a little unpredictable depending on the type of bed you’re planning on sleeping in.
Be prepared for the aches and soreness and pack some nice relief for those muscles. I like a heating pad for my lower back discomforts but love a rice sock for the lower pelvis or upper rib cage twinges!
Rest on your side.
When you are able, try to rest on your side and put a pillow between your legs. This is such a simple position, but you’ll find a lot more relief in your back and your hips instead of sitting or semi fowlers positions.
Pack your belly band.
You can barely see it in the picture, but even in 90 degree heat in Florida, I wore my band throughout the park because we were walking so many miles each day. I was also picking up my 30lb toddler – because he’s at that age where he really loves his mama and I’ll take all the hugs I can get.
Belly bands come in various shapes and sizes. You don’t need a fancy one and shouldn’t spend more than $30. The band should be on the lower part of your pregnant belly, almost like it’s scooping up the front of your bump. Most mamas find that wearing them during the day time and when they are most active provides the most relief.
Tip: If you have a mama friend, these are an easy thing to borrow and return after birth.
Take your rest breaks.
This may seem like a no brainer, but sometimes you don’t know you’ve pushed yourself too far until the point of fatigue, dizziness or the next day you wake up sore and tired.
In the beginning of pregnancy, rest may look like more naps due to normal fatigue, while later in pregnancy, you may be more tired from carrying extra weight, a large belly, or just feeling over-exerted. Or you have other little kids…
Regardless of the reason, take your moments to sit down for an extra 10 minutes, prop up your feet, and move onto the next activity when you feel a little relief set in.
Pack comfy clothes and shoes.
Truth: My sister in law is getting married this fall and asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding at 36 weeks pregnant. Other than my bridesmaid dress and heels, you can bet I’m packing flats, black stretchy pants, and long flowing tops – the softer the cotton the better.
With all the variables of travel, don’t discount how important comfort is. Regarding shoes, try not to pack flats and pack something with a little bit of a heel – this helps prevent back pain in pregnancy. Pack and wear layers if the temperature varies, especially if you are prone to pregnancy hot flashes. And don’t feel bad at all if the first thing you do when you arrive back to your hotel room is strip down to your comfy undergarments and look for your spouse’s extra large college t-shirt.
Tip: Try wearing your stretchy pants backwards in pregnancy and see if they don’t give you a little extra bump room!
Consider packing a paper copy of your medical records.
This is one of my favorite tips to recommend especially if you don’t have a patient portal to access your prenatal records.
You never know when you’re going to be in a car accident or need to go to labor and delivery triage; having a copy of your records makes caring for you and the baby safer and more transparent to the health care team taking care of you.
Those are the 10 tips! Comment below if you have any tips to share!
You can also check out ACOG’s tips on travel here:
Hugs and safe travels,
American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists. (2018). Thromboembolism in pregnancy. Practice bulletin. Number 196. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/practice-bulletin/articles/2018/07/thromboembolism-in-pregnancy