Looking to take a road trip while pregnant? Here’s everything you need to know about taking a long road trip while pregnant as safely and as comfortably as possible.
This summer is going to be weird.
Summer is usually the time for epic family road trips.
In fact, the last two years, we’ve taken long family road trips in May and this is the first spring we haven’t, as our planned trip to Baltimore for a blogging conference (which I was to speak at) was canceled due to COVID-19.
But, as states open back up, and businesses open up, and virtual school and homeschooling end for the year, slowly, there is still some hope that there will be something fun for families to do and see and partake in.
Or at least that’s my hope!
But, I am pregnant with twins, due at the end of the summer.
Any summer travel plans are even more complicated with the virus still affecting many areas heavily (like where we live in New York), and wanting to protect myself and my unborn babies.
But, I’ve taken long road trips while pregnant before.
They aren’t always super fun, but I’ve found doing certain things can really help ease the discomfort of sitting for hours, as well as keep you and your babies safe.
Should Pregnant Women Take Road Trips?
When it comes to pregnancy, there are a lot of recommended health guidelines in order to help mom and baby be healthy and safe, especially should an emergency arrive.
It’s why there is a general “36 Weeks Rule” where doctors do not advise traveling far from home from 36 weeks on. Some advise no travel from 34 weeks on.
This includes flying while pregnant, but also includes long car rides and long road trips while pregnant.
You don’t want to be 31,000 feet in the air and suddenly go into labor, nor do you want to be in the middle of nowhere’s land on a two-lane highway with no shoulder if you suddenly feel something is off with your pregnancy.
You want to be close to home, close to your doctors, and close to your hospital.
This even more true if you have any pregnancy complications like high blood pressure, severe anemia, hypertension, gestational diabetes, multiples, or have a history of pre-term labor.
The reality is, sitting for long periods of time is not good for pregnant women’s health. Prolonged sitting in a car can cause blood clots, extreme swelling, dizziness, cramps, dehydration, more aches and pains, and so on.
Perhaps the best time to travel and take long road trips while pregnant is the second trimester, or from about 13-28 weeks gestation.
Ultimately, ask your doctor what he or she thinks about any last-minute (or planned) travel plans you may have, especially as you enter into that third trimester.
Bumpy Road While Pregnant
Many concerns about road trips while pregnant stem from the idea that a bumpy car ride can cause labor to start or trigger a miscarriage.
But, this is generally held to be a myth, though it may make mom uncomfortable as she jostles around in her seat.
Baby, however, is protected by her ample amniotic fluid, your pelvis, and your stomach muscles.
I would still suggest avoiding backroads, off-roading, and potholes as much as possible all the same.
If you come across a pot-hole ridden road, go as slow and gently as possible, and if a passenger, hold onto the door and your bump to ease any pains that may come from sudden jostling.
Before you hit the road it is really important to make sure your vehicle is as safe as possible. It’s why I wrote up a whole post (with free printable) on a road trip car checklist.
In addition to the items on that checklist (which includes getting your car serviced), you need to also check to see if there is a vehicle safety recall on your vehicle.
Because, one of the worst things that can happen while taking a road trip while pregnant is getting into an accident or having your car break down somewhere! You can limit the chances of those happening by making sure your car is as safe as can be.
NHTSA also has a great Summer Driving Tips road trip checklist I highly recommend going over as well to make sure you are good to go as safely as possible down the road.
You can easily check for vehicle safety recalls by using NHTSA’s VIN look-up tool. If a vehicle safety recall shows up, the good news is that those repairs can easily be scheduled with your local car manufacturer’s dealership, and taken care of for free!
You’ll also want to make sure to pack a summer emergency roadside kit too.
And of course, always wear your seat belt across your chest and lap correctly, yes, even with your big pregnant belly! You cacn check out this seat belt pregnancy safety guide from NHTSA here.
But, should you get into a car accident, seek medical help immediately to check on your unborn baby!
Tips for More Comfortable Road Trips While Pregnant
Sitting for hours, while pregnant, is really hard on your body. I asked around in a few mom groups I belong to for their best tips and advice, and here is what I got for taking road trips during pregnancy comfortably:
- Take lots of stops and walk around for 5-10 minutes when you do.
- Stretch your legs and back when you take pit stops.
- Drink lots of water (even if it makes you pee more often: that’ll just mean more time to stretch your legs). Get a good insulated water bottle like this one.
- Avoid drinking caffeine and soda.
- Bring and eat healthy road trip foods and snacks, avoiding ones that are too salty or sweet or heart-burn inducing (but still be sure to pack these chewable antacids).
- Wear loose, comfortable maternity clothing, and maybe skip the bra too. 😁
- Opt for flip flops over socks and shoes (if not driving) and open-toed shoes with heel straps if driving.
- Wear maternity compression socks or leggings.
- Wear a belly support band.
- Bring along a travel pillow or two. One can be used to prop up for your feet.
- Bring a travel blanket for propping or in case you get cold.
- Don’t use the heated seat feature on its highest setting, nor use it for too long.
- Cold cans or bottles of waters can be held between your legs to help crotch discomfort.
- Adjust your position as you go so as not to get too stiff or stuck.
Other things people recommended, especially if traveling in that third trimester were:
- Mapping out pit stops and hospitals along your path
- Bringing copies of your medical records
- Bringing insurance cards
- Bringing the infant car seat
- Bringing your hospital bag
Lastly, if you are planning to travel during this 2020 summer, you may also want to bring the following as well:
You’ll want to have these when running into stores and using bathroom facilities.
I hope you have a great, safe, and awesome family road trip this summer, even if you are traveling while pregnant!
For additional helps planning your road trip, see these posts: