Holidays, vacations, and long weekends call for road trips and exploring new places. But when you’re pregnant, traveling takes a bit more planning so that everything goes smoothly.
As long as you’re having a healthy pregnancy (and your baby is not due too soon), car trips are likely fine. Still, it’s always best to check with your doctor to make sure your trip won’t conflict with any prenatal visits. Also, if you have any underlying health conditions, your doctor may want you to limit your travel distance.
Before you start packing to hit the road, don’t overlook these tips. They’ll keep you safe and more comfortable on long road trips while pregnant. Then just hop in the car and buckle up — adventure awaits!
Get Your Car Ready for a Long Road Trip While Pregnant
Nothing ruins a vacation faster than breaking down on the side of the road. So before you start out on a long car ride, make sure your car is up-to-date on routine maintenance. Also, confirm that:
- Your tires (including your spare) are in good shape and inflated correctly.
- Your windshield wiper fluid is full.
- You have a set of jumper cables, extra coolant, and a flashlight in the trunk, just in case.
- Your roadside assistance plan (make sure you have one!) is up-to-date and handy.
- You have a full tank of gas, especially if you’ll be driving through more sparsely populated areas.
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In Case of Emergency
Hopefully, you won’t have a medical emergency, but it’s wise to prepare just in case. Have your OB/GYN and hospital phone numbers available on your phone, and check to see if there’s a hospital near your destination. Keep your health insurance plan card in your wallet, or snap a photo of the card with your phone.
And don’t forget to pack your prenatal vitamins and any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you might need. It’s also a good idea to keep a small first aid kit in your car. You can get one at any pharmacy.
Pack Healthy Snacks
Let’s face it, car rides are so much better when you’re not hungry and thirsty. So when you’re taking long car trips while pregnant, be sure to stock up on healthy snacks. It’s also essential to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
Healthy and portable snack ideas include:
- Fresh fruit
- Nuts or trail mix
- Yogurt (keep it in a cooler)
- Low-sugar snack bars or protein bars
- Peanut butter packets with whole-grain crackers
- Shelf-stable milk cartons
Try to pack a little more than you think you’ll need in case you’re delayed or can’t find a rest stop. If you prefer to pack meals instead of relying on roadside restaurants, plan those too. Jars of overnight oats and peanut butter sandwiches are easy to prepare ahead and will stay fresh in a cooler.
Skip the jeans and belt and instead wear comfortable clothes that are loose-fitting around your waist and legs. If possible, push your seat back and away from the dashboard so you have more room to stretch your legs. This will also leave more of a buffer between your baby bump and your air bag (if an accident were to cause it to inflate).
If you’ll be the passenger and might try to nap, a pillow can make you more comfortable.
Plan Stretch Stops
Even though you might want to get to your destination as soon as possible, it’s essential to stop and take stretch breaks. Sitting for extended periods slows down the blood flow in your legs and puts you at risk for blood clots. A good goal is to stop every two hours or so for a stretch break and a short walk.
Last, but definitely not least, make sure you wear your seatbelt whenever you’re in the car, whether you’re driving or a passenger. Position the belt across your lap and under your belly. It’s the best and easiest way to keep you and your baby healthy and safe.
If you do get into a car accident, or have any unusual pregnancy-related symptoms during your trip, don’t take any chances. Instead, call 911 or go to the Emergency Department so a doctor can check to make sure you and your baby are healthy.
About UPMC Magee-Womens
Built upon our flagship, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh, and its century-plus history of providing high-quality medical care for people at all stages of life, UPMC Magee-Womens is nationally renowned for its outstanding care for women and their families.
Our Magee-Womens network – from women’s imaging centers and specialty care to outpatient and hospital-based services – provides care throughout Pennsylvania, so the help you need is always close to home. More than 25,000 babies are born at our network hospitals each year, with 10,000 of those babies born at UPMC Magee in Pittsburgh, home to one of the largest NICUs in the country. The Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee in Pittsburgh as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health; U.S. News & World Report ranks Magee nationally in gynecology. The Magee-Womens Research Institute was the first and is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology, with locations in Pittsburgh and Erie.