At seven months pregnant, I took a business trip for my full-time job. This was a first for me in terms of work trips!
I’m no beginner to traveling, but business travel while pregnant has a few key differences worth mentioning.
For starters, when traveling for business, it’s expected to work when you fly and during your layovers. You also need to look somewhat presentable because going to a meeting right from the flight is sometimes necessary.
In this article, I’m going to share all of the pregnancy-related things that I prepared for during my business trip and some of the things that worked to my advantage. Adding a pregnancy to the mix of already-complicated business travel adds a layer of complexity! I’ll break down ways to be physically comfortable as well as ways to lessen stress during the work travel itself, below.
As a disclaimer, none of the advice given below is medical advice; it is solely travel suggestions based on my personal business travel while pregnant. Please keep this in mind while reading, and seek out professional medical advice if you have specific issues or questions relating to your health during pregnancy.
Things to do before leaving for a business trip while pregnant
Let’s assume you’re on your business trip flying alone, like I was. If you’re traveling with a colleague, that’s great! Hopefully you have someone who can help with any heavy bags and someone who will be trustworthy if you have any unexpected situations.
One thing to note for sure is that I recommend having a fanny pack for travel, and you’ll probably want to wear it as a belt bag because of your big tummy!
Here are my best actionable tips for when you’re booking your business trip during pregnancy.
If you’ll be taking a one-day or same-day business trip, check out these tips for success, which also guided me through a very short work trip even later in my pregnancy.
Make sure your colleagues attending the trip with you know you are pregnant
Communicate any limitations you have due to your pregnancy, but instill confidence that you’re fine to do your job and go on this trip (as long as you’re comfortable with the timing and your health condition).
Here are some example things to say to coworkers as polite disclaimers:
“I usually get tired at 8pm every night these days, so I’d appreciate if we could wrap up dinner with the client on the early side if possible.”
“I’d love if we could not make a huge deal about my pregnancy once we get to the on-site meeting, so that we can focus on the reason of the trip and do a good job.”
“If weather or other factors delay this trip for whatever reason, please keep in mind that my doctor doesn’t want me flying after 34 weeks, so I wouldn’t be able to attend a rescheduled date if it’s past (X date).”
Check with your doctor that taking a business trip is okay at this point in your pregnancy
I’m no medical expert, so it is suggested to talk to your obstetrician about “okay”-ing your travel during pregnancy. My OB advised me not to travel far from home starting at 34 weeks of gestational age.
Plan out some business-appropriate maternity outfits
For me, my business trip (and the tech industry I work in) was very casual. I packed two pairs of maternity leggings, a maternity tank, a maternity V-neck short-sleeve top, and a summer/fall scarf for each day and night of plans during the trip.
I packed a single pair of sandals, knowing that, based on my coworkers’ reports of the causal level of dress at the partner company’s facility, this would probably even be over-dressing.
If you’re headed to a conference, convention or more formal set of meetings on your business trip, try to plan out outfits the week before you are scheduled to leave. Make sure everything is comfortable and has space enough for another week of baby and belly growth.
I have had great levels of success asking around friends, family and neighborhood Facebook groups to ask about long-term borrowing maternity clothing in my size. This has worked out amazingly.
Make sure you’re fully packed with pregnancy-specific items
Being pregnant adds a few more must-have travel necessities to help with the flight. Here is a quick list of some of the things that have helped me during short and longer flights during my pregnancy.
A simple pregnancy belly band like this one helps support your back and give a little bit of relief from back pain. I started using one a little before my third trimester. As you can see, I’m also reading Bringing Up Bebe, a pregnancy book that came highly recommended.
This will help you be comfortable and take a quick nap if you need one. I recommend the BCOZZY neck pillow, which is lightweight and it’s firm enough to hold up your head so you don’t get a cramp. Check out a list of all of my favorite travel pillows!
I’ve been taking the Enfamom Prenatal Multivitamin and I pack them in a teeny tiny Tupperware with a rubber band in my luggage.
Compression socks for flying
I use these compression socks for travel from NxtStop and I recommend them!
Super comfy maternity clothes for traveling
I like the Blanqi maternity leggings and couldn’t believe how stretchy they were.
Any skin creams or belly oils
These should be in TSA-approved size containers. I left my belly oil at home because it’s messy and I didn’t want to risk any spills in my luggage. You can try this 1.7-oz pregnancy belly oil for travel, though, because it’s under 3 ounces.
If you are indeed traveling with medications, oils, serums or creams larger than the TSA-approved volume, you’ll have to check a bag. Then, to ease the stress on your mind about lost luggage or misdirected baggage during a layover, consider picking up AirTags for this trip and future ones, to be able to track the location of your valuables from your phone!
Any pregnancy or other medications
This will vary based on your situation. Make sure you have sufficient doses for each day, plus one extra dose in case you have a delay coming back.
Maternity wear for business meetings
My trip was pretty casual, so I got away with maternity jeggings from Motherhood Maternity, a V-neck short-sleeve tee from the Gap Maternity and a silky scarf.
For more ideas, these accessories for long flights also apply to your pregnancy, so you can aim for ultimate comfort while flying.
Book the flights early
To make sure you get the seat preference you want. With my business trip, we had to book only five days before our departure due to a time constraint. I didn’t really wind up with the seats I wanted because the flights were so full.
Also, avoid red-eye flights! Given your pregnancy and need for rest, a red-eye flight is not the way to go. Be liberal with your needs and book a flight that works.
Share your travel itinerary with your partner or trusted contact
This goes for the flight (all departures, arrivals and layovers) and hotel reservations. I always share my reservations and flight numbers with Dan and with my mom.
Turn on location sharing with a trusted contact like a spouse, parent or sibling
Dan and I recently started sharing locations with each other, just as a crutch for safety. In the rare occasion that I had a medical emergency while flying alone on a business trip while pregnant, Dan would be able to see exactly where I was and get me help if I were unresponsive. Gosh, this is really worst-case scenario!
Check for lounges at your departure airport
I’m a big fan of my Priority Pass lounge membership and it’s been saving my travel sanity since about 2017. If you’ve been having back pain or rib pain, you may want to avoid sitting in uncomfortable waiting area seats while you wait for your flight at the gate, or have a substantial layover. Lounges usually have comfy seats and more space in which to stretch out your back.
Check out my guide to airline lounges to learn more about getting set up with lounge access.
Before the flight (and tips for the airport)
Take a few extra precautions now that you’re carrying another life inside you during this work trip!
Wake up early to ensure you have a comfortable maternity travel day outfit
For me, this was a stretchy short-sleeve maternity tee on top of Blanqi maternity leggings (use this link to get $20 off on the Blanqi site), and an oversized zipper hoodie that still fits over my baby bump in my seventh month.
If you’re traveling on the flight with a colleague or several and prefer to look more professional than I did on my travel day, opt for maternity jeans and a maternity blouse. Bring a zip sweater for layering.
Go to the restroom before your transit to the airport
It can’t hurt! If you aren’t going to the bathroom all the time yet during your pregnancy, you’ll be there soon enough!
Check into your flight as soon as you receive a check-in notification
This helps speed up the airport process and will eliminate waiting in lines. Unless you have luggage to drop, you’ll be able to go right to security when you arrive at the airport on travel day.
Wear a face mask during transit to the airport and on the flight
I feel most comfortable wearing a high-quality mask, even if they’re no longer required by airlines, airports or ride shares.
Tips for arriving at the airport on your business trip
Being pregnant in the airport might be a new experience for you, like it was for me. Here are the best practices and helpful tips I employed.
Check into your flight, if you haven’t already
Check into your flight immediately when you arrive, if online check-in was not available. Ask about upgrades and seats at this time. Decide if you’ll be checking a bag.
Head to security with ample time
Take a bathroom break
By this point, you’ll probably need a bathroom if you’re anywhere in your pregnancy. I did.
Head to a kiosk or snack store to pick up healthy small snacks
If you’re on a business trip and you’re expensing everything you purchase, don’t be shy. Whomever reviews your expense report should know that you’re pregnant and that you are eating for more than one person, essentially. Remember to always get printed receipts for your expense report!
I opted for breakfast fruit, an assortment of bars and nuts. This was for making sure I got enough calories, fiber and protein on my travel day. Skip the junk, and forget about the prices. It’s all a rip-off because you’re in an airport, and hopefully your employer is covering all your trip expenses.
If you like, bring your own snacks as back-up options because you don’t want to go hungry at any point during your trip. You could risk fainting or other complications.
For snacks that pack a punch, I like TruBar protein bars, which have been a nice high-protein discovery during my pregnancy and travel. Hopefully my guide to healthy vegetarian and vegan snacks to bring on a trip helps you out with some ideas.
Slide on your compression socks
Switch into compression socks before boarding and make sure you leave sufficient time to remember to do this!
Why compression socks? They help promote blood circulation, which is crucial during pregnancy. They can help prevent varicose veins and can ease swelling in your feet, if this is something you become prone to.
Assess if you’ll want to wear a belly band on the flight
Every pregnant woman has her own preference with belly bands. I prefer to wear mine for back relief rather than preemptive wear. I read recently they should always go over a shirt or an under layer, rather than right against your skin.
See which kinds of flight upgrades are available (say you’re pregnant!)
Business travel is different from normal travel. I would rather spend a few more dollars on a business trip knowing that I have more space, and avoid being disheveled or worn-out for a long work day ahead of me. Also, I’m not the one paying. ;-)
When you’re pregnant, the booking agents might be able to upgrade you when you check in. It’s worth asking!
Ask to board early
Go up to the flight attendant desk at the gate and ask to board early. This works if you’re “visibly” pregnant (AKA you need more space to be comfortable and are already experiencing the discomfort of growing larger in your middle region). Show off that bump!
For both my flights home, I went up to the gate desk before boarding time and flight attendants didn’t even hesitate to let me board early in “pre-boarding” with military personnel and/or disabled passengers.
There’s a 99% chance you’ll be granted priority boarding. It’s hard for anyone to say no to you, because being pregnant is one of those times in your life where you can finagle special treatment. Almost every airline gives preferential boarding to families, people in the military and pregnant women.
If you’re me, you might be able to be the first person (!) to board the plane, and this will give you a chance to eat pickles before anyone sees.
On the flight and during flying
There are some extra precautions to take when you’re pregnant and traveling on business. Safety comes first.
Getting to your seat on the flight (and finding aisle seats)
Because it’s not a myth about having to go to the bathroom frequently, sitting on the aisle can help keep the peace between you and your seat partner.
Also, my doctor recommended that I get up and walk through the aisle frequently. Sitting in an aisle seat really helps with this.
I very unluckily wound up with a middle seat in an exit row when my colleague and I booked our business trip only five days before needing to be in our destination.
As it turns out, and confirmed by my research, there’s very little limitation on pregnant women sitting in exit rows. In my zipped-up hoodie, I don’t think the flight attendant even noticed I was pregnant when she asked the three of us if we were willing and able to assist in case of an emergency.
When I got to my seat, I didn’t bother asking the gentleman to my left if he’d consider switching with me, but I did say, “Hi, I’m pregnant and I’m going to be getting up quite a bit during this flight. Hope that is OK.”
He said it was totally fine, and said he, “wouldn’t be sleeping or anything,” even though he fell asleep immediately after takeoff.
With flights these days being VERY booked up and most flights being full, it’s challenging to:
1) get the seat you want if you’re not booking six months out, and
2) get an aisle seat, which is optimal in your pregnant state.
If you feel comfortable with the idea (and it helps to be visibly pregnant to help with the asking), you can always ask passengers around you if they’d consider switching seats because you need space.
Ask for help when loading your carry-on into the overhead bin
When I was boarding my flight and heading to my seat, I chose to ask a flight attendant to help lift my (small) Away carry-on suitcase into an overhead bin. I could’ve done it myself, but at seven months pregnant, I didn’t want to pull a muscle in the beginning of my trip and be screwed.
Increasing air flow to your seat
Adjust the air flow nozzles above your seat to direct air directly at your face. This will:
1) keep you cool and hopefully help relieve any flight stress, and 2) act as an “air umbrella” (I read this online).
Having the air flow on high helps keep air flowing around your face and will lessen the risk of airborne germs making their way to your face and body.
Get up to stretch every 30-40 minutes
Continue to stretch your legs and feet from your seat. If you can find some space, stretch your back and arms.
Bring a water bottle like the YETI, and fill it before the flight. While in-flight, ask for a cup of water and a can of seltzer during drink service, and don’t be afraid to head back to the flight attendant area to ask for more water whenever you need it.
Ask for more water or club soda, and snacks! Again, no one can really say no to you if you’re pregnant. It’s for the baby, and for you! No one wants a passed-out or dehydrated pregnant lady on a flight.
Go to the bathroom before the plane’s descent
Don’t be embarrassed about getting up often to use the restroom. Usually the flight attendants will even let you still use a bathroom after the “initial descent” announcement has been made, as long as you’re quick.
If you plan to nap, make sure to nap for under 90 minutes
To avoid sitting in the same position for too long (ideally less than an hour and a half), which can affect the blood flow to your extremities, plan to take short naps. Set an alarm if you need to. Stretch and walk around the plane cabin in between resting.
On the business trip and at business meetings
Business meetings look a little different when you’ve traveled far and you walk in with a baby bump. Try these tips to make things go smoothly and calmly.
Politely comment on your pregnancy, only giving as much personal information as you wish
If any clients or suppliers ask imposing questions about your pregnancy, reply simply that you’d rather not comment, or it’s information you’re keeping private at this time. This could include the baby’s gender, your health status, any complications you’ve experienced, baby names or plans for future pregnancies.
After my trip, I had our business contacts follow up with me and wish me best of luck with my pregnancy. It was so thoughtful! It’s easy to expect the worst, or to expect awkwardness, but the fact is that pregnancies make most people happy and they become happy for you, even if you just met under business circumstances.
Make sure to sleep enough (8+ hours)
Plan to get eight hours of sleep in your hotel room. Calculate backwards from when you need to be up for the morning meeting, and communicate to colleagues that you have to hit the hay at a specific hour as to rest enough. You’re growing a human in your body! It takes work and rest.
Treat yourself to a mocktail!
While everyone is having drinks at the hotel bar or taking the client out for beers, get yourself something special, as a congratulations that you’re taking a business trip while pregnant. You’re doing it, and you’re doing great!
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