Baby's First Desert Adventure
January 7, 2010 9:36 AM   Subscribe

My wife swallowed a breadfruit! We'll be 28 weeks pregnant when we take a vacation in late April. How active is she likely to want to be on the trip?

Some background on the proto-trip:

We're pretty outdoorsy. Normally on a trip like this we'd probably spend at least half the time hiking or otherwise being out in the wilderness somewhere.

We're likely to be headed to the four-corners area, with a few days visiting friends in Albuquerque built in. We've been to Albuquerque and Santa Fe before, and have done the Sandia Crest, Acoma Pueblo, Jemez region, and Petroglyphs National Monument.

My wife is prone to carsickness, but is willing to do a certain amount of riding in 1-3 hour blocks if there's a good reason. I've been thinking about a swing north through Taos and then up to Great Sand Dunes NP and Mesa Verde NP. Or maybe a run up by Grand Canyon and into Zion/Bryce/Arches/etc.

So- how much walking around is she going to feel like doing at 28 weeks? How much riding in the car? What will the weather be like? Will we feel like we've properly visited a place if her mobility is limited?

(also, she's an OB so we're entirely up to speed on what sort of activities are "safe")
posted by GodricVT to Travel & Transportation (21 answers total)
At that point judging from my own experience she'll be fine. She may tire a wee bit more than her nonpregnant self but the fatigue of first trimester will be long gone. I say go for it.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:44 AM on January 7, 2010

I took a trip this fall at about 28 weeks pregnant. I'm not especially outdoorsy or active, so it's hard for me to comment on that part, but I do have one tip regarding car travel (and I suppose it could be pertinent to hiking). Make sure you're traveling along roads with places to stop and use the restroom! We took a 4ish hour car trip, and our GPS had us on back roads with no place to stop for the last hour and a half or so. This proved to be a bit uncomfortable for me. It's easy to forget just how often you have to pee when you're pregnant, until there's nowhere to go.
posted by katie at 9:46 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

She will, of course, be the best gauge (duh). But to quote my similarly outdoorsy coworker, at the time in her 38th week or so, "Six weeks ago I was hiking. Two weeks ago, rock climbing. This week, hobbling around holding onto walls to get around." She'll probably be fine at 28 weeks, but you'll want to plan for the possibility of sudden changes.

You might look into these attractions and see what kind of accessibility they have for people with limited mobility. This is not to say that your wife will need a wheelchair or not be able to handle the exertion, but you can get a good idea of how steep trails are, etc. And it's possible, as you've noted, that she might actually end up with mobility limited in some way or another (sciatica, a need to go to the bathroom every half hour, etc.). So knowing this info ahead of time is probably a good start.
posted by Madamina at 9:49 AM on January 7, 2010

It all depends on her level of fitness and the safety of her pregnancy. I did a low key trip about that time (Dragoncon) where it was mostly walking. I was exhausted all of the time so it wasn't like my usual stay up to 4am trip. I was in bed by 9:30.
posted by stormpooper at 10:00 AM on January 7, 2010

My wife was a very active person before she got pregnant walking miles a day. She was able to keep it up, although at a slower pace, up until a few days before she gave birth. Doctor said that her exercise and walking was a significant factor in her not so hard delivery and very speedy recovery. Only gained 19 pounds for first kid and lost it all within weeks.
I would insist that your wife continue to be active.

My wife also got care sick. Pregnancy did not help. Needed to pull over often for combination air and pee. Or as she would say, "Can you find and A&P for me?" which the first time she said I assumed she wanted a grocery store for some reason.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2010

Nthing that she'll most likely be fine. For me, that point of my pregnancy was really smooth and the only side effect I noticed was tiring quickly. But I also think it's important to be flexible to whatever's going on, whatever she's feeling, etc, as that can change quickly. I'd say the most important part of your trip planning will be building such flexibility into your schedule -- for example, if you're making hotel reservations, can you cancel them if she's not up to that 4-hour block in the car and you want to stop at 2 hours.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:09 AM on January 7, 2010

Sorry -- just have to add that JohnnyGunn's idea: "I would insist that your wife continue to be active" is astoundingly thuggish and misguided. Do not do that. Please.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:12 AM on January 7, 2010 [10 favorites]

Her age might also be a factor. I had my kids in my early twenties and pretty much continued doing everything I normally did. In contrast, friends who've had babies in their late thirties or beyond don't seem to have as much stamina unless their super athletes to begin with.
posted by mareli at 10:15 AM on January 7, 2010

This is all personal anecdote, so take it for what it's worth.

I am 26 weeks pregnant today, over the holiday we did some minor traveling by car and I ended up getting sick after 2 hours. Previously to pregnancy I rarely got car sick, and never to the point of actual vomiting. As far as walking around goes, I'm much more easily winded now and prone to sharp back pain if I walk around too much, and have only gained about 15 pounds total at this point in the pregnancy. At the beginning of the pregnancy I was walking 1.5 miles a day, and now am only willing to commit to a walk around the block. We've had houseguests for the past 3 days and I find myself longing for naps and down time, and we're not even doing anything very social or exhausting.

In conclusion, I wouldn't put a lot of pressure on her for long hikes, or any hikes at all on some days. Going uphill is probably going to be extra bad, which should be kept in mind at the Grand Canyon because other than the Rim Trail, the uphill portion of the trails are at the end and pretty steep. Uphill is harder on the legs, and it's difficult to balance the belly.

Good luck!
posted by andlee210 at 10:17 AM on January 7, 2010

Yeah, good luck with the "insist" part on anything with a pregnant lady! If your wife has been relatively active in the past and is feeling well so far, I think you'll be fine but be prepared for anything as things really can change suddenly in any pregnancy. But if her doc doesn't have any concerns and your wife is okay with the idea, I think you're fine in planning for the trip. I agree that shorter trips with provisions for restroom availability and lots of snacks in the car!
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:18 AM on January 7, 2010

Also, I feel inclined to add that it's incredibly difficult to sleep continually through the night at this point, which adds to grumpiness and kind of cottonheadedness. If she's still sleeping well the no-nap thing might not be such a big of a deal. A vacation right around now would be most welcome, so I think you're on the right track.

This is really just to explain my poor grammar in my primary post.
posted by andlee210 at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2010

I did some adventurous travel around that time in my pregnancy in a developing country (i.e. shitty roads, shitty cars) and I was fine.
posted by k8t at 10:37 AM on January 7, 2010

For both of my pregnancies, 28 weeks was still the high point of activity and energy. I carried my toddler up and down the stairs of Hearst Castle at about that point in my second pregnancy, although I recall bowing out of a hike in Big Sur that happened later on that same trip.

Agree with just making sure you've got plenty of water and snacks (and maybe one of those contraptions that makes it easy for women to pee standing up?) and that you are both willing to roll with it.

I should also note that the same advice always applied for me pretty much anytime I left the house, not just in the wilderness. Roll with the situation and pack a snack.
posted by padraigin at 10:40 AM on January 7, 2010

Mom of three here.

I would avoid the Four-Corners area. It is beautiful and amazing and I usually recommend that people see it, but in this case I say stay away. That area is mostly Navajo Reservation and there is very, very little by way of places to stop for services. At 28 weeks the need to pee is pretty strong. At the very least she will probably need to go once or twice an hour. The Grand Canyon/Zion/Arches is going to be much easier on her.

Get her some kind of lumbar support for in the car, it will make a huge difference. Sitting for that long will be uncomfortable. I also highly recommend Preggy Pops. They were expensive, but worked amazingly well on my nausea and carsickness.

She will probably be okay walking on level ground, but you may want to carry one of those folding camp stools so that she can take frequent breaks. Even if she feels fine, you should try to have her rest every 15 minutes. Just have her sit and take a drink. Otherwise you could get half way into your hike and she could hit a wall. It's easy to overestimate what you can do. I also recommend really good hiking boots even for easy terrain. Some kind of walking stick for her would also be a good idea. Put twice as much water in your bag as you think you'll need, and double the snacks wouldn't be a bad idea either. Seriously, whatever your high estimate for the amount of water is bring double. And don't even think about her carrying any kind of backpack.

As general travel advice, bring a body pillow. Even if you have to pack it in its own suitcase. It will be so helpful for her when she's trying to sleep in strange beds, and if she gets a better nights sleep your side trips will be better.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:08 AM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, once the relaxin kicks in, joints get awfully loose and hyperflexible, and walking on uneven ground can become a sprained ankle waiting to happen. A friend of mine dislocated her wrist and elbow by throwing a stick for her dog at 22 weeks; I had my hips go out at 13 weeks (my pubis symphysis joint separated, slipped by an inch, and twisted through thirteen degrees) and I needed twice-weekly physical therapy after that to be able to walk to go get the mail. Not everyone experiences the joint thing to the same extent, but it's definitely a possibility to be aware of.
posted by KathrynT at 12:34 PM on January 7, 2010

I have always had my ass kicked by altitude the first few days in New Mexico or Colorado, even when doing nothing more strenuous than going out to dinner. It's possible that, even if your wife hasn't had trouble with it before, altitude+pregnancy will hit her and make her tired, headachy, nauseous, or otherwise miserable. I would make sure it was always an option to forego activities and rest.
Mesa Verde is cool, but you miss a lot of it if you're not willing/able to climb up and down rickety ladders and squeeze through little tunnels (full disclosure: I'm a total wimp and did not do any of those things. I enjoyed the ruins available on flat land, but I missed the most notable sights there).
posted by katemonster at 12:36 PM on January 7, 2010

My wife was active and pretty fit before we had a baby, but by 28 weeks, she had to pee all the time and had some significant swelling making travel minorly uncomfortable, and active travel extremely uncomfortable. Not everybody swells - and she definitely swelled on the "above average" end of the spectrum.

I'm going to say that her feet gained about a size and a half during pregnancy, and proably a significant portion of it was water. I spent probably 20-30 minutes a day moisturizing and rubbing her feet legs because she felt crappy by the end of it - moreso in the 30-40 week range but high 20's was probably the start of the daily treatment.

A 3 hour car ride was relatively normal for us (expect to stop 4-5 times - meaning it becomes a 4-5 hour car ride), so I can say that that is something that is doable - but there are a lot of things that are going on with women's bodies by 28 weeks and some might not feel up to heat, lots of movement, hills and whatnot.

If I really wanted to go to 4 corners - I wouldn't be expecting to do anything hard or tough, or anything you wouldn't expect a sterotypical empty-nester-aged couple to do on vacation. Yes, she's not an invalid, but to some extent - she might potentially be needing more assistance at that time. What you consider a hike for grandma may be all she is capable of. If both of you can be happy with that - then you are good to go.

If you're going for pictures and pampering, you'll have fun. If you're going for hiking, trails, climbs and abuse - well... be ready to scale back your expectations, decrease your scope, and otherwise not get out of the trip what you were expecting. You won't be more than an hour a way from a toilet at any time.

For some relationships, this means you can still go, spend a portion of the day together, then separate for a few hours while she takes a nap and do some things without her - but by 28 weeks, you'll probably want to be with her, and she'll probably not want you to wander off too far without her (no matter what she says).
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:40 PM on January 7, 2010

Every pregnancy is different. You can get a lot of good anecdotes here. Your wife's situation will surprise you anyway.

As for generalities, expect her to have to stop and rest pretty frequently. Other than that, she'll probably be able to get around and see stuff.

Also, don't feel like there's any way to take a vacation and do it "wrong". You can't improperly visit a place, as long as you have a good time in the process. (Short of destroying it, I suppose.) If you miss a few details, that just means that you have a good excuse to return when the little poopsmith is old enough for travel.
posted by Citrus at 12:56 PM on January 7, 2010

One other thing to keep in mind, that I haven't seen mentioned yet: A lot of the roads in NW NM/4 corners area are not well maintained/built, even the ones that are paved, and there are quite a few that aren't. I'm someone who never gets car-sick---except on certain roads up around Farmington. For someone who does get car-sick *and* is pregnant, there could be some extremely bad times. I'd check maps carefully beforehand, and depending on the parks, stop by a visitor's station on the way and talk to a ranger about road conditions beforehand.
posted by PMdixon at 1:02 PM on January 7, 2010

Agree with just making sure you've got plenty of water and snacks (and maybe one of those contraptions that makes it easy for women to pee standing up?)

Yeah, something that makes it easy to pee where there are no bathrooms would probably help.
posted by Lobster Garden at 1:14 PM on January 7, 2010

Yeah, it's going to totally depend, and you won't be able to predict it now. I have a friend who was still running 3+ miles at 35 weeks, which frankly horrifies me. I'm currently 33 weeks and I do tire fairly easily; I also have a small hernia which causes some pain if I try to do too much; and oh yeah, the peeing thing. That said, I have no swelling, carsickness, or joint pain to speak of.

So, my advice is to take it day by day. As long as you don't try to make a rigid agenda (especially now!) you'll have a great time.

Seconding ignore JohnnyGunn, ewww. If he were my husband I might insist he shut the hell up.
posted by miss tea at 1:40 PM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

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