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Here are 7 tips for surviving a road trip while pregnant; especially if you’re in the first trimester when nausea is a common symptom.
When I was 6.5 weeks pregnant, I went on a fishing trip to Canada with my parents which involved an 8 hour car ride each way.
When I was 12 weeks pregnant, we drove out to Chicago so Matt could race in the Triathlon World Championships, which included a 9 hour drive each way.
I am someone who is sensitive to motion sickness even on my best day, so when I knew I would be taking these trips in the first trimester of my first pregnancy, I was nervous.
I didn’t know how badly I would feel in my first trimester to begin with, and adding road trips to the mix brought a whole new level of anxiety for me. Would I be nauseated or throw up the whole time? Would I be able to handle it?
Now that those trips have passed and I survived them both, I wanted to share a few tips that helped me during the long car rides.
*This post is obviously written from the perspective of being pregnant and in my first trimester at that. But some of the tips can also be helpful for people who aren’t pregnant and are just sensitive to motion sickness in general.
7 Tips for Surviving a Road Trip When You’re in the First Trimester of Pregnancy
1. Sit in the Front Seat
This tip is crucial for me, no matter if I’m pregnant or not. Back seats and car trips don’t mix well for me. If at all possible, sitting in the front passanger seat is the best place for me to be, and causes me the least amount of motion sickness discomfort.
If sitting in the front isn’t an option, the middle seat in the back is the second best choice.
The key is to be able to look out the front window and focus on the road ahead in order to help limit nausea from motion sickness.
2. Fight the Nausea
There are many ways to do this. I used several of the options in combination for both of my road trips. Here are a few choices:
— Medication: Zofran or Diclegis if you’re pregnant. Dramamine if you’re not.
Obviously you have to do your own research and see how you feel about taking medication while you’re pregnant, but I’m a firm believer in doing what needs to be done to feel your best, with the least amount of suffering and harm to all parties. For me, that meant taking diclegis [a prescription anti-nausea pregnancy medication] as prescribed.
— Peppermint: Peppermint has been proven to help fight nausea and ease stomach upset across the board, and there’s many ways to incorporate peppermint into your road trip.
Some people find chewing peppermint gum or sucking on peppermint candy helps keep their nausea at bay.
For me, I found the smell of peppermint essential oil to be very helpful. I wore a diffuser necklace and put a drop or two of peppermint oil on it before getting in the car, and as needed during the trip. If I had a nausea wave come, or if I smelled something terrible and needed a quick fix, I would sniff the diffuser and take deep breaths.
I’ve continued to do this in the months since; especially if there’s something really smelly like burned food stinking up my house. I’ve even resorted to tapping my finger on the top of the bottle and swiping the inside of my nose with the oil. It’s very strong if you do it this way, but desperate times call for desperate measures!
— Ginger: Some people find ginger ale to be helpful, and others find relief from sucking on ginger drops or chewing ginger chews. I didn’t try this, but it would be worth a try.
3. Sea Bands
Sea Bands are accupressure wrist bands that you wear to decrease nausea and motion sickness. Many people find them helpful for fighting morning sickness, and others find them helpful for motion sickness related to cars, airplanes, boats and cruise ships etc.
For me, I can’t really say whether they actually worked or not. I didn’t feel dramatically better when I wore them, but I also didn’t want to chance not wearing them either. So, I wore them in the car on both trips, to cover my bases and give myself the best chance of feeling as good as possible.
If you look on Amazon, there are very mixed reviews. Some people have great success with them and others don’t think they work at all.
I think they’re one of those things you have to try for yourself and see how they work for you. It sure doesn’t hurt to try them. And they’re cheap enough that it’s easy to try and if they don’t seem to help, no harm, no foul.
4. Frequent Snacks
I learned early on in my first trimester that I felt worse when I was even the slightest bit hungry. I needed to eat something every 1-2 hours in order to fight off the worst of the nausea.
This was also true during the car trips, so I brought along a good supply of snacks. Easy to eat things like crackers, granola bars, clementines and yogurt were good choices for me. If I went too long without eating, I started to feel bad fast.
I also tried to make sure I drank enough water during the road trips.
I’ve been really conscious to do this my whole pregnancy, in an effort to stay hydrated and keep my digestive system working properly. I don’t know that it necessarily helped me fight off nausea, but I think it’s important to stay hydrated and not let the car trip negatively affect your water intake.
5. Stop and Get Out of the Car as Needed
This goes along with drinking lots of water in the previous step. If you drink a lot, you’ll need to stop for the bathroom more often. This might delay your travel time a bit but it’s worth it.
Stopping not only allows you the chance to go to the bathroom, but it gives you a break from the motion of the car and gives you a chance to step outside and take a few deep breaths. It really helped me ‘reset’ and be ready for another long stretch in the car.
6. Sleep When Needed
One of the best ways to make road trips pass quickly and not have to fight nausea or motion sickness along the way is to take a nap. If you’re able to sleep in the car, this will help a lot!
7. Be Prepared for the Worst
One of my worries about morning sickness is being caught unprepared if I were to get sick in a place without a bathroom nearby.
Some people might not be worried about this, but if this is a concern for you, put your mind at ease by being prepared.
Bring along a couple bags to use as last resort vomit containers. Gross, I know. But even if you don’t need them, it’s better to have them just in case.
Especially if you’ve had issues with vomiting from morning sickness at other times before your road trip, it might be worth making sure you’re prepared for an emergency. Bags like these you see at hospitals and clinics would work well.
If you’re one of the lucky people who never have to worry about motion sickness in moving vehicles or morning sickness when you’re pregnant, you’ll likely never need to use these tips.
But if you do deal with motion or morning sickness, or both in combination when traveling while pregnant, you can help make road trips as bearable as possible by using a few or all of these tips.
I used them on two trips in the car, but they could easily be transferred to air or boat travel as well.
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