Traveling While Pregnant: Sitting, Standing, Or Lying?

These last few weeks I have been pretty uncomfortable. According to my doctor I am almost 38 weeks pregnant, and my belly is quite monstrous. I have definitely had a hard time getting comfortable, no matter what position I’m in… whether I’m trying to sit and read a book, stand while doing the dishes, or lie down to go to sleep.

What can be done about this problem of mission comfort impossible? Well, each woman is different and find comfort in different positions. However, there are certain tips and tricks you can use that will help with this dilemma.

This is a good example of a sitting position that encourages a good birthing position for the baby.

Sitting, standing, and lying are all things you will be doing on a normal basis while you are pregnant, but also come into play when you are traveling while pregnant. For normal sleeping remember you should avoid sleeping on your back or stomach. You can employ a full body pillow while lying on your side. When you are traveling, you might not want to lug one of those around. I actually lost my full body pillow because I insisted on bringing it while we traveled, and I left it somewhere. But no worries, I have been using a regular pillow between my legs, and a small wedge pillow my friend bought me for under my belly while laying on my side. It is a miracle worker! I also use it while sitting for back support with the non-pointy side of the triangle down. Something small like my wedge pillow is ideal for traveling, because you can slip it into your suitcase or backpack. You also want to consider getting a neck pillow for sitting long periods, or for sleeping while sitting up. Towards the end of pregnancy, heartburn might not be giving you any other options, and you don’t want your head bouncing all over the place while you are trying to fall asleep. If you are one of those doubters that think sleeping sitting up sounds impossible, you should at least give it a try if you cannot find comfort in any other position… I slept that way last night.

Are you going to be staying at someone’s house while you are pregnant? Instead of accepting the air mattress (a bad idea, speaking from personal experience!), opt for the couch. Not only does it provide great back support while you are a sleeping on your side, but you don’t have to worry about it deflating and causing back problems you didn’t have the day before. The couch has seriously been my refuge for the last two weeks! I just lay on my side, smash my wedge pillow behind my back, and voila, sleep overtakes me.

Let’s talk about sitting… you want to make sure when you are sitting for longer periods of time, you take breaks to get up and walk around, and since you are pregnant, odds are that these walking breaks are also doubling as potty breaks. Staying in any one position too long can cause stiffness in your legs and back. This is especially important to remember while on an airplane. It is also my sworn duty as a labor doula to tell you not to spend too much time sitting while reclined. You want your baby in the best birth position possible and that means you want to sit up, with good posture, so your baby’s butt will naturally be facing away from your spine. This will prevent serious back labor pain while you are in labor and delivering your baby. For me sitting back too often is extremely uncomfortable anyway, and it doesn’t help the edema in my feet (edema in pregnancy is swelling due to poor circulation caused by the pressure of your uterus on the blood vessels in your back).

Standing still can be extremely uncomfortable when pregnant because your center of gravity is off, and there is a lot of pressure on your back. If you have to stand for long periods of time, make sure you are moving around as much a possible (walking will help prepare your body for the marathon that is labor), and take sitting breaks. If you find that your feet and calves are swollen after prolonged periods of standing, make sure to put your feet up, and rub the swollen area out (or convince your hubby it is his duty as a future father). If you are traveling and you find yourself on a bus or train, make sure you take up people on their offer to give you their seat. It is much safer for you to sit while on a moving vehicle because your joints are lose and your balance is off (which I talk more in depth about here).

I hope you find these few tips helpful in your last few weeks of pregnancy. For more info on traveling while pregnant, check out other articles in this series.

What position do you find most comfortable for sleeping? What are some ways you deal with the physical discomfort of pregnancy?

Happy Travels,


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