Baby Bumps on the Road
Plan plenty of breaks during car trips while pregnant
There’s a romantic old adage about travel being more about the journey than the destination. Well, that doesn’t really apply to pregnant women on car trips.
Being cooped up in a vehicle for hours at a time can be uncomfortable for anyone, but especially so when you’re traveling for two (or more!). Here is some common-sense advice for making the best of being on the road in this condition.
Most importantly, plan your journey so you don’t have to pack too many road-hours in at a time. Five or 6 hours per day is about as long as you’ll want to sit in a car, whether your route takes you on the open road or in thick stop-and-go traffic.
It’s best to have a companion share the driving with you or take over the wheel altogether, as road fatigue is a real concern.
In the latter stages of pregnancy, make some minor adjustments to accommodate your expanded belly. Don’t sit too close to the dashboard especially if it equipped with an airbag (but never disengage the airbag!). If possible, tilt the steering wheel a little upward or downward away from a direct line to the tummy bulge.
It goes without saying but always wear your seatbelt, whether or not your vehicle is equipped with airbags. Buckle up under the belly with the lap belt on the upper thigh/hip bones. The shoulder belt should fit over the top of the tummy, between the breasts. Don’t put the shoulder belt off to the side – your safety and security trumps comfort. The baby is somewhat cushioned in the womb by amniotic fluid, so the best way to protect the baby is to protect yourself.
Take lots of breaks, at least every hour and a half (bathroom needs will no doubt ensure this). Get out of the car to stretch your legs, walk around, and get the blood flowing. Do some gentle stretches and take some deep breaths. Circle your arms to stimulate circulation. Extend the leg heel first to stretch out the calf. While in the car, point and flex your toes and rotate your ankles to help prevent leg cramps and swollen feet.
Bring a pillow for lumbar support in your lower back. Wear loose, comfortable clothes without a lot of buttons, belts and hooks. You’ll want quick and easy access for when nature calls (again and again). Passengers should opt for comfy slip on shoes you can easily take on and off.
Bring plenty of road snacks and hydrating (ie. non-caffeinated) drinks en route. Healthy options like fresh fruit, nuts, cheese and crackers make good energy boosters, and may quell the munchies enough to dissuade you from making burger and fry stops along the way. Be prepared for potential motion sickness by keeping a waterproof bag or bucket handy along with some baby wipes (might as well stock up on those now). As for bathroom breaks, roadside facilities are not always the most pristine places so you might want to assemble a survival kit complete with a roll of toilet paper, some antibacterial wipes and some hand sanitizer.
It’s best to travel with a cell phone in the car in case of a breakdown. Have the number of the auto club handy – it’s no fun changing a tire in this condition. Keep an emergency kit of warm clothes, a flashlight, some snacks and water in the trunk just in case. If you have the misfortune of having an accident, however small, do see your doctor immediately even if you feel just fine. Better safe than sorry.