For many, travel is a frequent part of their job, and it’s not always easy. Add pregnancy to that, and things get quite a bit more complicated! As you can imagine, being pregnant and traveling for work means a lot of adjustments travel-wise. Some women don’t have any issues traveling during pregnancy—lucky them! Unfortunately, I was not those women.
During my first pregnancy I felt terrible my first tri, nauseous and exhausted virtually all the time. The second trimester was pretty good (once the nausea wore off), but by the third tri I was pretty uncomfortable and moving really slowly. Double all of that for my twin pregnancy! There were a few things I learned that made business travel while pregnant easier, if not necessarily fun. Here are my tips:
Adjust your schedule as needed. One thing I learned early on is that day trips were just not going to work. It was too exhausting to only get 4-5 hours of sleep and then be gone for 18 hours. Flying in the night before meant I was well-rested, which meant an easier work day. I would still fly home in the evening after my meetings, which was tough, but doable. If you are really sick or exhausted, it may be better to fly home the next day. Also, if it’s available to you, think about spacing out your meetings more than you would otherwise. Again, it made me able to do quality work, instead of being a zombie.
Plan food ahead of time. During the first tri of both pregnanciesI had to eat constantly, as often as every thirty minutes. I brought a lot of stuff from home (pretzels, crackers, fig Newtons, fruit), and some things I made sure I could get on the road. By my second tri (and throughout my twin pregnancy) I had to have food all. the. time. This involved a lot of prep work, whether it was bringing food from home or knowing what the food options around the hotel and office were. I also had to be very cognizant of planning breaks for eating throughout the workday.
Stay hydrated. I preach about this a lot in general, but hydration is so important when you’re pregnant. If you can’t handle water, try Gatorade or juice. Just make sure that you are drinking at least 64 oz of fluid a day, and more if your doctor tells you more. Both pregnancies there were periods where water, normally my favorite beverage, tasted terrible to me. During my first I got so dehydrated I nearly passed out. I don’t recommend that! Something that really helped this last pregnancy was my Brita water bottle with a built in filter. I didn’t have to go searching for water to buy, which allowed me to easily drink much more.
Sit in the aisle. Whether it’s because you need to use the restroom, are feeling sick, or can’t handle being crowded in, I recommend sitting in the aisle if you can. It made me feel so much better when flying. Later in your pregnancy you will need to be able to get up and walk every hour or so—just another reason to choose the aisle.
Be comfortable. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes on travel days. Throughout both pregnancies I flew in dresses or yoga pants because it made me nauseous to have anything constrictive around my middle. And while not especially comfortable, compression socks may become your best friend. If I didn’t wear them during flights my ankles and feet got so swollen I could barely walk. Not a great way to start work in a different city!
Check your bags. Again, this is something I don’t usually push, but it may be easier if you go ahead and check your bags. This way you won’t have to lug heavy things around the airport when you’re already feeling terrible (first tri) or can’t lift your suitcase over your head (third tri). If you do check your bag, don’t be afraid to put your personal item in the overhead bin. Early on I was so nauseous I couldn’t bend over to reach my bag, and eventually I was too big to bend over and reach it. Once your baby is born you can go back to putting it under the seat in front of you.
Use the restroom every chance you get. One of the super fun parts of pregnancy—frequent trips to the loo. Make sure you take advantage of every opportunity you have, both on the ground and in the air. It’s no fun holding it on a flight where too much turbulence means no one can get up for two hours!
Ask for extra pillows. You will probably need more pillows than the hotel gives you. I usually need five—one for my head, two for my back, and two for my front. Otherwise I would have a backache the entire next day.
Don’t be afraid to preboard. On days where you feel especially slow, go ahead and preboard. It will give you that extra time to get settled without worrying about impatient people glaring at you for holding up the line.
Take assistance if you need it. If your connecting gate is too far for you to make without over-exerting yourself, use airline assistance. Either a cart or a nice person with a wheelchair will get you to your gate. Just remember to bring a few dollar bills for tip! Another option is to schedule more time than normal between flights.
Dress in layers. Early in my pregnancies I am colder than everyone around me, but by the end I am like a furnace. Either way, layers are critical to keeping a comfortable temperature! At one conference, I turned to the woman next to me and said, “Wow, they really need to get a handle on the air conditioning!” She said, “I know! It’s so insanely cold!” Oh. Totally the opposite of what I meant.
The most important thing is to be gentle with yourself. It’s okay that you can’t do everything the way you could before—your body is working really hard to build that baby! Give yourself extra time, since you may be moving more slowly than normal. Do whatever you have to do to feel better and take care of yourself.
Readers, what are your tips for traveling for work while pregnant?
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